Latest Release: Killing Salazar with Steven Seagal

Latest Release: Killing Salazar with Steven Seagal

An elite team of DEA agents are assigned to protect a dangerous drug lord and take refuge in a luxury hotel while they await extraction. They soon find themselves at the center of an ambush as the drug lord’s former associates launch an explosive assault on the hotel.



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Transplantees have gathered in Durban to compete against each other and raise donor awareness.

Transplantees have gathered in Durban to compete against each other and raise donor awareness.

Organ transplants: Athletes’ true race is against time


Matthew Legemaate is waiting for a heart and double lung transplant. (World Transplant Games)

David Broit, manager of the Australian World Transplant Games squad, says organ trans­plantees “smile a lot”. In spite of the dark skies and inter­mittent drizzle, there were smiles and hugs all around as Broit, his team of 67 (ranging in age from 14 to 83) and hundreds of other athletes from around the world converge on Durban’s beachfront amphitheatre last Sunday for a walk that announced the start of the 19th edition of the games, taking place in the city from July 28 to August 4.

This is the biggest organ donor awareness event in the world with nearly 2000 athletes, all of whom had to participate in qualifying events in their countries and all of whom are transplant recipients of either solid organs or bone marrow.

It aims to give hope to those awaiting transplants and to encourage people to become donors. According to the World Transplant Games Federation president, Olivier Cous­tere, countries that have hosted the event have experienced increases in organ donation rates of 30% or more. Another central objective of the event is to show the difference an organ transplant can make to the life of an individual.

This difference is evident in Canadian Howard Dell, a former winter Olympian, professional footballer and basketball player as well as a TV actor who was diagnosed with the rare liver disease primary sclerosing cholangitis and Wilson’s disease, which is caused by too much copper in the liver, in 2006.

Dell, clad in a giant blue jersey and tights looks no different from any other American footballer. But he produces a picture on his phone of himself lying in a hospital bed, weighing only 67kg.

“This was just after my transplant,” he says. “When I was diagnosed, the doctors gave me three to six months to live. But I hung on to my liver for as long as I could – almost three years – because it took me a year and a half to get on to the waiting list before, finally, with days left to live, they informed me that a liver had become available and I had the transplant on November 17 2009.”

Since then, he hasn’t looked back. Seven months later he participated in the United States Transplant Games. He is in South Africa to compete in the 100m, 200m, javelin, discus and ball throw events. At last year’s US Transplant Games, Dell – who is 1.88m tall – won five gold medals, and he is not taking his trip to Durban lightly.

“I ain’t messing around. In the US, in some events, I have some fun and don’t take them seriously, but when you come to World you want to see competition. You want to show what Olympic level and what professional football competitiveness is.”

But for 16-year-old Hunter Messer, a liver transplantee from St Antonio, Texas, the games are more an opportunity to meet others like him than a serious competition. It cost the Messer family, made up of his two siblings and his father, $15 000 to travel to South Africa.

“It’s worth it,” his father says. “He’s really into meeting a lot of friends from other countries – that’s what this is about.”

Messer, who also suffers from kidney failure and is blind in his right eye, takes nine pills a day. But he is all smiles and high fives as he interacts with little children playing along the beachfront.  “I participate in the long jump, in the 100m sprint and the bowling, and I do it for the fun of it. I don’t train much but I always medal,” he says.

At the Westville Country Club where the squash event is taking place, the atmos­phere in the South Afri­can squad is more one of camaraderie than rivalry.

Alice Voigt, a 28-year-old double lung transplantee from Jo’burg, has just learnt that the only other person in her age division is fellow South African Catherine de Beer, a kidney transplantee.

But, although Voigt admits that she is nervous, she and De Beer are happily chatting and agreeing on a time at which to start their game. Kobus Weideman – also a kidney transplantee, who has won silver and bronze medals in previous editions of the games – confesses to being “very competitive”, though he admits he doesn’t think he would be able to play world league squash.

“That would be too straining on the body. There are a couple of people in the games who used to be world champs and Olympians before they had their transplants – they had to give that up.”

Coustere says the athletes’ training includes regular medical check-ups.

“They are on medication for control of organ rejection, to prevent the adverse effects of immunosuppression and to treat pre-existing or new co-morbidities like diabetes mellitus. Some of the medications are organo-toxic or may become so. Stresses of competition may cause the athletes to become dehydrated or hypertensive, so these athletes are faced with much more than just training for their sport.

“The World Transplant Games are a celebration of the human spirit. The determination of our transplanted athletes ensures that they never give up hope. They are grateful for every moment that they can do their sport and for them to just take part means that they are winners,” he says.

One person who hopes to compete in the games in the future is one of only six South African heart and double lung transplantees. Tina Beckbessinger was born with congenital heart disease. Now 32, she had the transplant two years ago – by which time she was bedridden, sleeping 18 to 24 hours a day and on oxygen most of the time. Now she cuts a cheerful figure walking around with her fiancé and cuddling a little dog in her arms.

At the Save Seven Lives walk she has strong words of encouragement for Matthew Legemaate (15) who is on the transplant list for a double lung and heart: “Don’t give up! Keep hoping and it will happen soon.”

Leggemaate has had five open-heart and many other related surgeries. But he is at the beachfront, mingling with transplantees.

“The physical tiredness he constantly feels affects him not only physically but also mentally, so every­thing is hard work for Matthew,” says his mother. “Despite all this, he will continue to push on and, in the case of the WTG, he was determined to be involved somehow, even if it was just to go to the walk.

“He was really encouraged by just how well the participants looked and generally the appearance of norma-lity of their lives.”


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Howard Dell Competes in Transplant Games

Howard Dell Competes in Transplant Games

Former Olympian and professional football player Howard Dell tries to stay cool in the hot sun while talking to spectators at the Transplant Games of America at Grand Valley State University Monday.

ALLENDALE, MI — As Howard Dell took to the track Monday, ready to compete in the, his mind turned to thoughts of what might have been.

Stepping onto the new bright blue track surface brought fond thoughts of Grand Valley State.

Yet he remembers it as a college, not a university.

“Strangely enough, when I was high school, this was Grand Valley State College and they recruited me for basketball,” Dell said. “I still have my recruiting letter from 1981.”

Things have changed in 30 years.

Grand Valley grew into a university in 1987 and Dell’s life has been filled with Olympic competition, professional football, athletics training and even acting.

It was more than he ever planned for.

What he hadn’t planned for was being diagnosed with the rare liver disease PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis). Then, upon further testing, he was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, which is caused by too much copper in the liver.

All of a sudden, time was something Dell didn’t have much of.

The attention he was used to getting from athletics and film turned to medical diagnosis and treatments.

“I had the same disease as (former Chicago Bears running back) Walter Payton,” Dell said. “And I’m the only person to ever have PSC and Wilson’s disease.”

Albeit odd that having more things wrong with him may have helped save his life, his double diagnosis got him fast-tracked for a transplant, but barely in time, he said.

Now, just two and a half years out from his successful transplant, Dell is still weighing all his choices on how to continue with his life.

“I’m still deciding what I want to do,” Dell said. “I’ll always want to train the athletes but I’m not sure if I’ll go back and do the whole film and television thing yet.”

In the interim, competing in transplant games has worked well for Dell.

Fresh off winning four golds in the Canadian Transplant Games last weekend in Calgary, Dell is working through a long list of events in these games, his fifth since his transplant.

As if competing in the 100 and 200 meter races, discuss, and the softball throw weren’t challenging enough, Dell is struggling with other things this week — his emotions.

“It feels somewhat unfair, I almost feel bad,” Dell says, referencing his experiences as a professional athlete, now competing against other recipients and donors as well.

Competing in doubles bowling Sunday was a great equalizer, though, Dell said.

“I have trouble getting two pins, let alone all of them,” he said.

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First he was broken down. And now he’s just plain broke.

First he was broken down. And now he’s just plain broke.

Howie gets his life back

By Paul Svoboda, The Intelligencer

First he was broken down. And now he’s just plain broke.

But Belleville native Howard Dell is happy to be alive and happy to start all over again.

Dell, 48, was hit with a rare liver disease three years ago, underwent a transplant in November and after leaving the hospital in Los Angeles at a frail 148 pounds, the six-foot-two athlete and actor (Detective Troy Hawkins on ‘Young and Restless; Agent Dobrinsky on ‘Once A Thief’ series, among others) is now a robust 210.

“The last three years I’ve been staying alive and now I’m starting at zero,” said Dell during a recent telephone interview from his home in Victoria, B.C. “But you know what? I’ve got a new liver.”

Three years ago, when he was flattened by a rare liver disease known as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) — the same ailment that killed former NFL superstar Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears — Dell sold all of his earthly possessions and hit the road in search of any kind of treatment that could keep him alive until he could get a transplant.

“I was pretty freaked out,” said Dell, a graduate of Bayside Secondary School who played football at McMaster University in Hamilton and had stints in the NFL and CFL. “The diagnosis is a couple of months. Walter Payton couldn’t get a transplant so if he couldn’t, how could I?

“So, I sold everything I had and literally went everywhere in the world to try to stay alive and I managed to stay alive for two years.”

Dell went to China and other parts of Asia, Europe and New Zealand seeking treatments and visiting clinics.

“Hey, if they were doing voodoo and it helped, I was showing up,” he said.

Eventually, with death staring him in the face, Dell returned to L.A. where he received a transplant.

“You don’t know who you get the transplant from but you’re allowed to write a letter that an agency gives to the donor family and they either write you back or they don’t,” said Dell. “I wrote my letter but haven’t heard anything back.”

Today, Dell’s training regimen is simple and so is his diet.

“I don’t get psychotic in the weight room anymore, just lots of standard stuff like we used to do in high school,” he said.

As for diet, Dell concerns himself more with what he shouldn’t eat.

“Stuff like sodas, which are death in a bottle, and no fast foods,” he said. “Hey, it’s not easy. I love Coke and Pepsi and I like a good burger just like the next guy. But I try to eat fresh food and I don’t eat as much beef as I used to because it makes you gain weight and then you’re looking at heart disease.

“If it comes from the ground, it’s good. If it comes from the farm, it’s good. It hasn’t been sitting on a shelf in a supermarket.”

To make ends meet on his road to recovery, Dell is writing a book about diet — Eating Left Because Right Didn’t Work — which debunks many of the myths about eating correctly that he says we were taught growing up.

“Remember when they said margarine was supposed to be OK?” he said. “The pun in the title of the book is that we’re going to eat left because what we were told about eating right, was wrong.”

Dell is also filming a documentary about his disease, transplant and recovery.

Though his strength and conditioning improves on a daily basis, Dell knows he’s nowhere near the former shape he was in while training and competing for the Canadian Bobsled Team. But he’s getting there.

“I’m not there yet,” he said. “After something like this, you have to redefine normal. I started off getting out of the hospital and taking 27 different medications a day. Now, I’m down to six.”

Dell’s progress has been encouraging enough to allow him to enter the U.S. Transplant Games July 30-Aug. 4 in Madison, Wisconsin.

“It’s like the Olympics for transplant patients,” he said. “There’ll be about 2,500 athletes there. I’ll let the ego compete. Oh yeah, the ego will be out there.”

Dell will compete in the 100m, 200m, shot put and discus events plus the softball throw. After that, he has targeted the Canadian Transplant Games Aug. 9-14 in Quebec City and the 2011 World Transplant Games next summer in Sweden.

He said his athletic background helped him get through some tough times prior to his liver transplant.

“Yeah, attitude helped, but I was in denial,” he said. “I looked great. I was in great shape — on the outside. But inside, I was dying. Only one in three million people get this disease and you think, ‘why me?’

“But you just don’t quit. You know it’s going to be painful, but you keep telling yourself you’ll get a second chance.

“Now, I feel great. I feel like Benjamin Button.”

Today, Dell said he looks at life differently.

“I think now with more urgency,” he said. “I’d like to say, ‘sure, the prognosis is good,’ but the reality is, how many people do you know who can say they had an organ transplant 20 years ago?

“I don’t know how much time I have. I just know what I can do with that time.”

For Dell, that includes becoming a spokesman for organ donation.

“Sign those donor cards,” he said. “You can help save a life.”


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Two former athletes are pushing a new treatment which they claim will save the healthcare system $100m a year.

Two former athletes are pushing a new treatment which they claim will save the healthcare system $100m a year.

Secret weapon


 Last updated 05:00 12/07/2009

Photo: Phil Doyle
Ray Columbus says the EECP treatment Will Hinchcliff offers gave his wife back her smile after she suffered facial injuries in a car crash.
Two former athletes are pushing a new treatment which they claim will help numerous Kiwis and save the healthcare system $100m a year.

Howard Dell and Will Hinchcliff have both been in their national bobsled teams and both played American football in the NFL. One has a former prime minister for an uncle and served a drugs ban (Hinchcliff), the other was a regular on the Young and the Restless and coaches elite basketballers.

Together, they own a company named Primary Heart Care. Five rooms of an old Auckland villa contain the healthcare system they claim to be the answer to heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s, diabetes, high cholesterol and, yes, erectile dysfunction. A former pop singer says it has even restored his high notes.

And they have the perfect pitch: “We can save the government and the healthcare system $100m a year. If you’re a politician, we’re going to save your constituents, get them back to work, help the economy and help you get re-elected.” (That’s Dell, by the way).

But while they have had a personal audience with John Key, the medical establishment doesn’t, yet, seem to think much of Howard Dell, Will Hinchcliff, or of Enhanced External Counter Pulsation therapy.

Inside the  old villa, and in the interests of research, I lie down on a chest-high bed while Hinchcliff attaches electrodes to my chest and straps blood pressure cuffs around my ankles, thighs and buttocks. This is EECP. In essence, the cuffs inflate, tighten, and push your blood back from your legs towards your vital organs. The clever bit, they say, is that it responds to your heartbeat, creating a reverse blood flow wave. The resulting increase in blood circulation, they claim, has huge restorative effects on the body that are particularly suited for heart patients and elite athletes: their two target markets.

Hinchcliff has absorbed all the science, and as he tinkers with the machine, keeps up a steady patter, telling me how EECP was first conceived in America in the 1960s, refined in China and has now spread to the UK and India.

“With this you can reverse almost every degenerative disease that’s circulation-related,” he says, testing my blood pressure and heart rate before the machine thumps into life. “We can improve your arteries, we can improve your nitric oxide… it’s a massive detox for liver, kidneys and colon… you get better blood flow to your brain, eyes, vital organs. EECP meets the gold standard: the outcome is, you won’t suffer a heart attack or a stroke. All the surgeries [on heart patients] don’t prevent you having another heart attack or a stroke.”

Hinchcliff says the increase in bloodflow from every one-hour treatment has a similar impact to running 35km, while reducing heart rate and blood pressure.

When I jump off the bed, I can’t say I feel very different. The next day, perhaps, there’s a slight feeling of wellbeing: similar to the after-effects of a good deep-tissue sports massage.

Not that Hinchcliff needs my endorsement. The bed already has an almost-improbable list of celebrity backers, from boxing legend Muhammad Ali to basketballer Shaquille O’Neal, and Hinchcliff wants to position EECP as the next elite sports “edge” by offering free treatments to leading athletes.

Darkly, he hints some established sports medical professionals aren’t in favour, but, despite that, he has already signed up Martin Crowe, Grant Fox, boxer Shane Cameron and ultra-runner Lisa Tamati, who used the beds as often as possible in preparing for this month’s 280km ultramarathon across Death Valley and describes them to me as her “magic ingredient”.

Hinchcliff says the reason EECP hasn’t become mainstream sports science is purely a case of the well-informed keeping secrets. “You don’t want to tell your competitors you have got the magic bullet,” he smiles.

And as for celebrity name-dropping? Well, he’s got Ray Columbus. You know, Ray Columbus and the Invaders of “She’s a Mod”? Sure enough, as I interview Hinchcliff, Columbus appears in the office, wearing a red leather jacket, a neat quiff and looking substantially younger than his 67 years. He embarks on an extensive tale of how he came to meet Hinchcliff and then of how Hinchcliff treated Columbus’ wife Linda, who has seven titanium plates inserted in her face after a 1992 car accident. She struggled to smile and when barometric pressure changed, suffered severe pain. Yet after 10 sessions, Columbus says, she was pain-free and after 13, regrowing arteries restored her smile. “It was a miracle; it was unbelievable,” he declares.

Columbus himself was treated for vascular disease, which he says is completely banished, but also suffered a stroke when he became so reliant on EECP that he stopped taking medication. That, he says, taught him that it’s a “complementary” treatment. Unperturbed, he adds that the treatment also helped restore the top-end singing range lost in his 40s by surgery on pre-cancerous nodules.

Columbus features prominently on Hinchcliff’s marketing leaflet. Keith Emirali doesn’t, but he’s an equally vital part of the promotional push. Hinchcliff says he met the 86-year-old World War II veteran when Emirali was undergoing dialysis and promised him better health. Emirali emerges from a treatment room to tell me: “Personally, I have cut my blood pressure medication in half. My doctor couldn’t believe how much my blood pressure had come down.” He’s a test case for EECP; Hinchcliff later waves a letter from Emirali’s GP in front of me, and has enlisted the RSA to plead his case with the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs that they should fund free treatments for veterans.

After an audience with prime minister Key last month, the result of extensive lobbying, Hinchcliff pitched for a 100-patient pilot involving heart patients on a surgery waiting list. He’s now waiting to see if that translates into any official backing. “I am hoping the law of gravity now takes over and it trickles down to the right people,” he says.

A few weeks later, Hinchcliff calls to tell me a government committee, which evaluates new medical treatments, will consider EECP’s merits on August 9. He explains the process, which appears remarkably tortuous even by bureaucratic standards, but it seems to have renewed his confidence.

I hope it has cheered Dell up. On the phone from Newport Beach, California, a few weeks after my initial conversation with Hinchcliff, his business partner had been less optimistic, railing against the Kiwi immigration department, our medical establishment and our insurance system.

Even the fact that the debonair, well-spoken Canadian-born soap actor is in the Californian sunshine not the Auckland drizzle is irritating him. He’s been out of the country for three months, part of a two-year campaign to persuade immigration to replace his visitors’ visa with a work permit.

“I’ve had some trouble with immigration. I just don’t know how they let overweight, obese people come into the country and they won’t allow me, with $750,000 invested into this country, to come in,” he says mournfully.

Both Dell and Hinchcliff hint they will take EECP to Australia if New Zealand doesn’t embrace the treatment, but Dell insists he’s still enthusiastic about a breakthrough here. But he also says: “New Zealand is a great opportunity. But it is like introducing penicillin to these islands. We’re bringing in something new and inexpensive that will save lives, and the Kiwis are like `Oh, I dunno’. But it’s hard for cardiologists to swallow. If you’re my patient, and I’m your cardiologist, our relationship might be worth $1m to me over the years once you consider a few stents, the drugs, the surgery, consultation hours. EECP costs $13,000 to $14,000 and you’re cured. $1m versus $14,000. What would you rather have?”

After talking about potential multi-million dollar savings in lost work time, insurance payments, expensive surgeries, surgeon’s salaries and hospital space, Dell goes on to say that most of the New Zealand medical establishment would, if they were in the US, “be in jail” for conflicts of interest such as sitting on the boards of drug companies and medical insurers. He suspects they actively dissuade patients from trying EECP. “But it’s already in the best hospitals in the world. These New Zealand doctors think they are smarter… they could at least have the decency to listen, to learn.”

Primary Heart Care do have a medical advisor, heart specialist Dr Gerald Lewis, who doesn’t reply to an emailed request for an interview, although Hinchcliff is vague on how often he visits the office. Hinchcliff himself is doing everything on the two occasions I visit, and says he has six months’ training as a qualified EECP technician. It appears that you don’t need a doctor’s referral for treatment, but he screens patients and the machines switch off automatically if your blood pressure or heartrate is dangerously high.

It was  Hinchcliff’s idea to introduce EECP to these shores. Nephew of former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer and son of AUT philosophy professor John Hinchcliff, Willie Hinchcliff was a New Zealand long jump champion who wore the black singlet at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, but was then busted for steroid use and banned for two years.

Hinchcliff’s athletic CV, however, was far from complete. He made the New Zealand bobsled team for a world championships in Canada, and there he met Dell, in the Canadian sled, and the American Olympic medal-winning sprinters Quincy Watts and Sam Grady, who were in the US sled. Dell secured Hinchcliff a season with a Canadian football team (the 1991 team picture of the Toronto Argonauts, including both men, hangs on Hinchcliff’s office wall). The other two got him something even better: a deal with their agent, Steve Feldman (the real-life model for the film Jerry Maguire). And Feldman got Hinchcliff a trial with the NFL’s LA Raiders.

Although he knew nothing about gridiron, he could run very fast, and that was enough. So for the next 10 years, he was a near-unique Kiwi presence in professional football, bobbing around the Canadian and American leagues, with an interlude at England’s London Monarchs.

Dell and Hinchcliff met again in 2001. Hinchcliff had retired, moved back to Auckland, and found little to amuse himself with. Back in California on holiday, he was in the fast lane of the 405 freeway when a car overtook on the inside. He glanced up, and saw Dell. “I chased him down the freeway and pulled up beside him, and he thought I was a lunatic. That’s how we reconnected.”

Dell, whose equally varied CV included college basketball, competing in the decathlon, playing gridiron for Cincinnati, Toronto and Winnipeg, and TV and film acting, was now working for a company which marketed EECP in the US and invited Hinchcliff to come back for some treatment.

Dell had discovered EECP years earlier when he was advising a group of world-class athletes, including sprinters Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon, John Drummond and Watts, when one said he was planning to try out EECP. Dell says he acted as the guinea pig and loved it. Hinchcliff had hit on it during his gridiron career, and credits it with adding five injury-free years to his career. Together, they saw an opportunity.

Given they have exclusive New Zealand rights to the concept, if they did get government support, they stand to make a hell of a lot of money. “By saving the government money, the business has an opportunity to grow profitably,” says Hinchcliff. “There is an opportunity to make money but the reality is, the equipment costs a lot of money.”

He talks about his gridiron career, where his first contract was worth seven figures and the sign-on bonus paid for a house, and says: “I won the lottery, I was blessed”.

“It’s given me the capital to invest in business. I could go buy three Ferraris right now, but I am creating a lifestyle of giving… [which gives] a lot of satisfaction. I can’t do wrong by doing right.”

Then he laughs. “And if they still don’t like that, I’ll move to Australia.”

– Sunday Star Times

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