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Battery Powered Brain; Interview with Melinda Gates; A Place to Die Young

Aired July 7, 2012 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hello. And thanks for joining us.

On tap today, why the latest push by Bill and Melinda Gates may be setting up this fight with the Catholic Church.

Also, confronting the unthinkable. A teenage boy gets cancer and his father discovers this remarkable source of help.

But, first, "Under the Microscope": A new treatment for depression. It's a fascinating story.

It's a disease, as you know, that affects more people than coronary heart disease or cancer. The good news is that in most cases, it is treatable. Medications such as antidepressants can be effective and in milder cases, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to work just as well.

But, unfortunately, for many people nothing seems to help. That's why it's so exciting to hear about a totally new approach.

It involves a device that looks a little bit like a pacemaker. Two wires inserted directly under the brain and then on the outside, a doctor can literally flip a switch. It's a pretty radical approach, but in some cases, the results are astonishing.


GUPTA (voice-over): For as long as Edi Guyton can remember, she could not get the sad thoughts out of her head.

EDI GUYTON, DIAGNOSED WITH MAJOR DEPRESSION: My mother used to say to me, "Smile, Edi, why don't you smile?" And I would give a something like that, maybe, or just think, what's there to smile about?

GUPTA: At 19, the first of three suicide attempts.

GUYTON: For reasons that are inexplicable to me even now, got up and started playing with a razor, and --

GUPTA (on camera): You cut your wrists. You cut both your wrists?


GUPTA (voice-over): Over the next 40 years, she tried counseling, psychiatric drugs, and electroconvulsive shock therapy, but nothing worked.

GUYTON: The despair I think is what is the most powerful push towards suicide, because there feels like there is no hope.

GUPTA: But if could you look inside Edi Guyton's head today, this is what you'd see -- two electrodes, the thickness of angel hair pasta, powered by a battery pack under her collarbone.

GUYTON: I don't think about it, but I've l have electrodes in my brain.

GUPTA: It's an experimental use of deep brain stimulation --

(on camera): Sort of what we're looking at here.

GUPTA (voice-over): -- pioneered by neurologist Dr. Helen Mayberg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The X is where we're stimulating.

GUPTA: The target is called Area 25, a junction box for the brain circuits that control our moods.

(on camera): Here at Emory where I'm on staff, my colleagues have been using deep brain stimulation for more than 15 years to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. In that case, they are targeting the brain's motor system.

But Dr. Mayberg wanted to use DBS to target Area 25 for patients with severe depression.

(voice-over): It was a procedure just like this done on Edi Guyton. In surgery, patients are lightly sedated as a neurosurgeon drills two holes. With an instrument to guide him, he then inserts the electrodes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the contact on?


GUPTA: As a benchmark, the doctors asked Edi to rate her feelings on a scale of one to 10, starting with dread.


GUYTON: My sense of dread is getting worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your sense of dread is getting worse. Rate it.

GUYTON: Eight.

GUPTA: Two minutes later, they turned on one of the four contacts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel right now? Is it still high?

GUYTON: No, it's much less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the dread right now?

GUYTON: Three.

GUPTA: A drop from eight to three. But doctors would soon get an even better result.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to make some changes.

GUPTA: Up until this time, Edi could not connect emotionally, not even with her baby grandniece, Susan.

GUYTON: And somebody handed her to me, and I held her, but I was going through the motions and I felt really nothing.

GUPTA (on camera): Nothing?

GUYTON: Nothing. Nothing.

GUPTA (voice-over): That changed in the operating room --


GUPTA: -- when they tried contact number two.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me know if anything changes, just give a shout.

GUYTON: OK. Smiling. I just almost smiled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just almost smiled?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Describe that for us, would you please?

GUYTON: I didn't smile. I haven't smiled before, like, in a long time. Or laughed.

Right there in the middle of brain surgery, I felt feelings that I thought were gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say you almost smiled, did something strike you as funny or is it just sort of spontaneous?

GUYTON: It was -- well, I, it, actually, I was thinking of playing with Susan.

I started thinking about Susan, little Susan. And I thought I was holding her with her face to me.

GUPTA (on camera): What that is like to think a machine and electricity could transform your emotions like that?

GUYTON: It felt fantastic. I didn't care what was doing it. It just felt great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spoon that in there.

GUPTA (voice-over): Since 2003, Mayberg has studied 37 patients with two-thirds showing significant improvement.

GUYTON: Pretty good, huh?

I don't feel good all the time but this gives me the capacity that if I can, if there is joy in my life, I have the capacity to feel it.

GUPTA: But what exactly is DBS doing to the brain circuits?

(on camera): What do we and don't we know about why this works?

DR. HELEN MAYBERG, NEUROLOGIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY: To be brutally honest, we have no idea how this works.

GUPTA (voice-over): While Mayberg continues her research to unlock the secrets of Area 25 -- it's been five good years for Edi Guyton.

(on camera): If you hadn't had the operation, where would you think you'd be right now?

GUYTON: I really believe that I would have committed suicide.


GUPTA: I'll tell you, the difference in Edi is just amazing and this research is still in the early stages. But so far, it is encouraging. Dr. Mayberg has not seen any significant side effect and it's exciting to be sure but still years away from widespread use.

Still ahead, Bill and Melinda gates, they have this new plan to promote birth control, and it's landed them in hot water with the Catholic Church.


GUPTA: You may know the world population is expected to hit 8 billion in just over a decade. And this week, population experts are going to debate in London on how to make sure this is a sustainable and healthy population.

The International Family Planning Summit is organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has already started to get pushback, especially from the Catholic Church. The issue at hand as you might guess is birth control. In this battle for hearts and minds, Linda Gates, a Catholic herself, told me her side of the story.


GUPTA (voice-over): The foundation that she runs with her husband bill is about solutions for the most serious global diseases -- aids, malaria, polio. So what's next on the agenda for Melinda Gates? Birth control.

(on camera): I think a lot of people may not know that. I didn't. But with regard to the foundation's efforts, contraceptives was actually an earlier starting point than vaccines.

MELINDA GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: It was. But you haven't really seen us go really big on this and say, it's got to be one of the hallmarks of the foundation. We've always been doing some work on contraceptives all along.

GUPTA: Was there a moment where you said, OK, we have this here in the United States but around the world they don't get to plan families the same way?

GATES: A great discussion I had with a group of women in this slum outside of Nairobi, literally the name of the slum is (INAUDIBLE), which translated means "standing shoulder to shoulder." So, you can imagine what this slum is like.

One woman summed up the conversation so beautifully. She said, "I want to bring every good thing to my child before I have another one." And I thought, that's it. That's universal. That's what every woman cares about.

GUPTA: What's the importance of this to the world? What's the importance of this to the economics of these various countries?

GATES: If a woman can plan and space her children, it starts this virtuous economic cycle. You see it in country after country after country, all over the world. And when you start that virtuous economic cycle, what we know is it ends up leading to healthy communities, healthy cities, and healthy nations.

GUPTA: You're a practicing Catholic. You've been very open about that. Your own bishop in Dallas has said basically conception is sacred. And it's God's greatest gift. And artificial contraception violates the meaning of this gift.

First of all, how do you wrestle with that?

GATES: You have to be willing to speak your mind. I have to be able to say to me the contraceptive piece is not controversial. My roots, part of why I do what I do in the foundation, comes from that incredible social justice upbringing I had, this belief in that all lives, all lives have equal value. So, we're not going to agree on everything but that's OK.

GUPTA: If you were meeting with the pope -- what would you tell him?

GATES: I would tell him that I think this is right for all women, that if you believe in helping poor women, if you believe in children living and thriving, I think this is a necessary tool in this day and age.

GUPTA (voice-over): Another charge from Catholic bloggers that birth control amounts to population control.

(on camera): Is this population control?

GATES: No. And I think that's where we have gotten ourselves also in trouble on this issue. Deciding about a family is a decision that needs to be made inside of a family. The population is coming down in countries where there's widespread access to contraceptives but you've got to start at the bottoms up.

To hear a poor woman say to me, "I can't find the means to feed this child, and if I have seven children, there is no way I can feed and keep alive seven children", I think somebody needs to give voice to that and I think it's important that I do that.

GUPTA (voice-over): Giving women access to contraception comes with a steep price tag, $4 billion. That's the estimate for providing family planning tools to 120 million women worldwide.

And it's Gates' mission this month in London getting world leaders to commit resources to this issue.

(on camera): Did you talk about these issues with your kids?

GATES: Absolutely. We talked about these issues all the time, whether it's HIV/AIDS -- family planning was just a big dinner table conversation just recently.

GUPTA: Is that right?

GATES: Because they're asking about the summit. What are you doing, mom? Why are you going to Senegal and Niger? Why is that important? Why is this important issue to you?

GUPTA: So the discussion of the birds and bees in the gates household is a totally different -- you're talking about family planning at the global level.

GATES: At the global level. That's true.

GUPTA: People will say, look. You're talking about contraception. Could that increase premarital sex? Could it increase promiscuity? Do these conversations take place?

GATES: We tell our kids to follow their conscience and I also think about what would I counsel my own children to do? And to me, that guides me on what do I think is right for women around the world?

GUPTA: How much of your time do you spend thinking about this?

GATES: To say, what's the thing that really I want to make sure is my lifetime's work at the foundation -- it really is this family planning.

GUPTA: That is quite something to say. Given all the various things that the foundation does and you have done personally, this is the one that you want to hold up and be remembered for?

GATES: This is the one.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GUPTA: Still ahead, he was a troubled 13-year-old boy when he finally found a home. He had parents and siblings who loved him and embraced him. Charles Daniel would live only three more years. It was enough time, though, to change everything and everyone.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: And all the struggle over Obamacare, one emotionally charged fight was over the term "death panels". I can tell you there was never any such thing in the law, but it did get us looking at this issue which is, how do you care for patients at the end of life? What's needed for them? What's appropriate for them?

It led us to a place I never expected. The George Mark Children's House in Oakland, California, is one of just three centers in the country where children with terminal illness can go with their families.


FOREST THOMPSON, CHARLES' FATHER: When I was a kid some of my favorite toys were broken toys. And so, you know, with Charles in this situation I was not going to give him up for any reason no matter what.

From what the doctors and the nurses have told us, it could be a couple hours. It could be a couple of days. You never know especially with Charles. He's shown super human abilities through all of this.

TREMICA THOMPSON, CHARLES' MOTHER: We adopted Charles. I didn't have him, but I love him like he's mine. My cousin called us collect. He spoke to my husband and he asked them if we could step in and take care of his children because he wasn't able to do so being in jail.

So we told him, yes, without a doubt. Family is family. You always take care of family, no matter what.

TRAYSHAUN KINSEY, CHARLES' BROTHER: He would say, "Hello, world. I'm Charles."

SHAUNEE THOMPSON, CHARLES' SISTER: "Hey, how y'all doing? My name is Charles. Charles Daniels. Yes. That's my name."

F. THOMPSON: He's a comedian of the family. He's our Mr. Brown.

DR. BARBARA BEACH, PEDIATRIC ONCOLOGIST: Charles is a young man who has a brain tumor for which it is quite clear there is no cure. What we've been able to provide here is an environment where the kids can be totally themselves at the same time that they're able to participate in Charles' final weeks and days.

KINSEY: We first found out, they got all the family together and told us what was going on. S. THOMPSON: She told us very calm and she told us he was sick and he had brain cancer.

KINSEY: They told us that Charles is dying and we have to go somewhere where it's nice and beautiful for him. So we just don't want him passing in the house, and everything being sad. We want him to be comfortable in a nice place.

T. THOMPSON: Being here at George Mark allows us and our entire family to be here together at all times. No visiting hours, none of that. No restrictions. We're free to be with him any time of the day or night.

KINSEY: Since I'm the older brother, I feel like I need to be in there with him. So when he wakes up, you know, if he can still remember us, he knows I'm right there and that I'll always be right there with him.

S. THOMPSON: There's nothing he could do about it or nothing we could do about it. We just have to just be strong.

F. THOMPSON: I never thought my kids would be as attentive as they are. You know, it's not just me and my wife taking care of Charles. It's everybody.

T. THOMPSON: It's all of us. It hurts us to have to see them go through it. It's hard.

F. THOMPSON: It is hard.

T. THOMPSON: We know it's the best for him because he's fought a battle and in the end, he's still going to win because the cancer will die. The cancer will not win.

F. THOMPSON: He deserves a rest now.

You know, we'll forever be changed. He gave -- he gave me something that most fathers don't get, you know? I'm going to carry it with me forever.


GUPTA: Dr. Barbara Beach who is a children's cancer specialist started this center after she treated this boy who died miserably at her hospital because the insurance company wouldn't pay for a nurse to come to his home. And not all children at George Mark have a terminal illness. Some are just recovering from severe injuries or sickness.

Now, as we continue to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend, you're going to meet a wounded warrior riding his bike across the country to raise awareness for injured vets. It's an amazing story.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: It's almost a 3,000-mile journey from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic. It's a ride that can take several days in a car. But imagine doing it on a bike and peddling with only one leg. See for yourself.


GUPTA: When did you know you wanted to be in the Army, being a military person?

MAJ. DAN GADE, U.S. ARMY: My dad had fought in Vietnam. My older brother was a '94 West Point graduate. I'm a '97 West Point graduate. My younger brother is currently serving in the Army.

GUPTA (voice-over): But it wasn't until January 5th, 2005, when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb when he realized just how dangerous war could be. Three weeks after the incident, Gade woke up in a hospital bed recovering from many injuries and missing his entire right leg.

GADE: I'm laying there and just thinking oh, my gosh. How much worse could this get?

GUPTA: He spent some time feeling sorry for himself, to be sure. But it was his 2-year-old daughter who snapped him out of it.

GADE: She's 2 and she wanted to play with me on the ground. I was in a power wheelchair with a broken pelvis and all this stuff. And she said, "Daddy, can you play with me?" I said, "No, baby, I can't, you know, I can't sit on the floor."

She turned around and said under her breath, "My daddy can't do anything." And I crawled out of the power wheelchair and I sat on the ground on my broken pelvis and I played Legos.

GUPTA: Since that day, Gade has become an Ironman triathlete, competed in a 100-mile swim and just finished a relay bike race across the United States, peddling six hours a day with just one leg.

GADE: It's a neat ride because you kind of are going through the rural parts of America and that's, to me, that's the heartland.

GUPTA: The ride was grueling, yet for Gade, it was about more than just finishing.

GADE: You have a setback and it could be something dramatic like the setback that I had when I got hurt in Iraq and the important thing is that you kind of find a new normal and that you go forward from wherever you are and do the very best with the things that God has given you.


GUPTA: Now if you're still celebrating the 4th of July this weekend, you're in luck. Chasing life. I'm sharing a tip to remember as you fire up the grill.

Remember this: Don't char the meat. You see, when meats are grilled at very high temperatures, they can develop these carcinogens. These are chemicals that can possibly cause cancer. Now, I don't want you to panic because this is a problem that's easily solved. I don't personally eat meat excessively but when I do see it's done I take it off the grill right away. You want to make sure it's cooked thoroughly to prevent bacteria. That's as simple as using heat thermometer.

But I'm mindful not to let the meat get to a point where you see those black charred areas forming. If it happens simply scrape the area off before eating. Don't char the meat.

That's going to wrap things up for SGMD. See you back here next weekend.

In the meantime, stay connected with me at And let's keep that conversation going on Twitter @SanjayGuptaCNN.

Time now, though, to get you a check of your top stories from the "CNN NEWSROOM".