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Friday
Oct202017

Heart transplant survivor runs half-marathon with her team of doctors

Kristin Marx(MILWAUKEE) -- Kristin Marx finished the Milwaukee Half-Marathon Sunday, surrounded by family, friends and her cardiac-care team.

It was a huge accomplishment for Marx, 37, who said she'd come up with the "crazy idea" with her sister-in-law one day in July.

"We thought, 'Hey, wouldn't it be fun to do a half-marathon.' It was kind of in a joking way and I wasn't sure if I wanted to commit to it because I have never run a half-marathon in my life," Marx said.

It was also a huge deal because more than 16 years ago, Marx had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and was in and out of the hospital in Wisconsin, desperately awaiting a heart transplant.

In 2000, Marx was a healthy, 20-year-old college sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Then, she got very sick. Marx thought she'd come down with a cold. A chest X-ray later revealed that she had an enlarged heart.

"Right away that night, I was admitted to the hospital," she said. "In my 20 years of life, that was the first time I was ever in the hospital. I never had a surgery, a broken bone, nothing in my life, until that very moment. It was my first hospital stay and it was terrifying. At the doctor's office, they told me that I would need a heart transplant."

For the next 10 months, Marx said, she was in and out of the hospital, as she awaited a new heart.

"I had to take a leave of absence from school," she said. "I literally couldn't walk 10 feet without having to stop and rest."

In January 2001, she received her new heart. She said her donor's name was Mindy. Eventually, Marx's good health returned. She returned to college in August of that year and finished her schooling. And, she got married and traveled.

Since her transplant, Marx said, she has remained a very active person.

"I felt like running a half-marathon would be a great way to honor my donor because I have been taking such good care of myself and the doctors have been taking such good care of me. ... This would be a great way to honor her by how strong my heart is -- our heart, I guess! And what better way to do that then run a half-marathon," Marx said.

Before she could run, Marx got medical approval from her doctors at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The staffers were supportive and encouraged her to run. Some of her doctors even decided to join her.

"When you come across a person like Kristin, who is post-transplant and trying to do half-marathons, you're, like, all of the sudden, looking in the mirror at yourself and saying 'OK. Where are you, mister?' ... I decided, 'OK, this is a good chance to run alongside her and start taking better care of myself,' and I only have Kristin to thank for this," said Dr. Asim Mohammed, who ran as well and was right beside her at the finish line.

Marx's time: 3 hours, 1 minute.

Not a day goes by that Marx doesn't think about her donor family or about Mindy, she said.

"Everything I do is with purpose and to give thanks to them for letting me live my life. ... Every Thanksgiving, people talk about how grateful they are,” Marx said. “That's my every day.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Oct202017

6-week-old baby boy's smile will brighten your day

Deanna Alfano(MIAMI) -- Meet the baby boy whose smile has been viewed more than 1 million times on Facebook.

His name is Cruz Muse, born six weeks ago during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Miami, his mother, Lidia Muse, told ABC News.

"We didn’t lose power -- thank God -- because I’m in a new house so they built the electricity and everything underground," she explained of giving birth. "I was so worried that I would have a newborn in the heat with no air."

Lidia Muse, 35, said every morning she sings to her son, whom she and her boyfriend of three years, Antoine Williams, welcomed.

A video of their morning routine, with baby Cruz showing off his winning smile, went viral on Facebook recently with 1.6 million views.

"I just wake up and say, 'Good morning, Cruz' and he's just smiling," she added. "He's my first. He's a blessing."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Oct202017

More cancer patients are now insured because of health care law

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Affordable Care Act has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of adults with cancer who lacked health insurance, new research shows. But whether future changes to this law could reverse the trend remains to be seen.

 “We wanted to understand what the ACA did, especially for vulnerable populations,” according to Aparna Soni, a doctoral candidate at the Kelley School of Business of Indiana University whose research on the topic was published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology. “Cancer treatment can be expensive or unaffordable for people without insurance.”

She and other researchers used data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program. They compared pre-ACA (years 2010 to 2013) to post-ACA (2014) data from more than 850,000 adults (ages 19 to 64) without health insurance at first-time cancer diagnosis. They found that the uninsured rate dropped from 5.73 percent to 3.81 percent after the law's implementation – a 33.5 percent relative decrease.

Past research has revealed that numerous socioeconomic factors can determine whether cancer patients live with or die from their cancer; one such factor is insurance coverage. The ACA Health Insurance Marketplaces and state-specific Medicaid expansion significantly reduced the number of uninsured Americans – including those with cancer – after going into effect in 2014.

 “[We thought] the ACA would have increased insurance coverage for people with cancer, but we weren’t sure by how much,” Soni said, adding that she was surprised to discover that after the ACA took effect in 2014, “uninsurance among adult patients newly diagnosed with cancer fell by one-third. It was greater than we expected.”

In fact, the percentage of uninsured patients with all types of cancer studied – breast, prostate, colorectal, lung and thyroid – dropped. And this change was seen across all cancer stages as well. Among the races the researchers evaluated, they saw the greatest drop in Hispanics, who had a nearly 40 percent relative decrease. The uninsured rate declined most dramatically in states with Medicaid expansion.

These findings echo those of an article published last month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, where researchers at the American Cancer Society looked at over 1.7 million adults with the 17 most common types of cancer in the National Cancer Data Base. They found that the number of uninsured among nonelderly adults with newly-diagnosed cancer declined significantly after the ACA, particularly among low-income adults living in Medicaid expansion states.

But as questions loom over the future of the nation’s health care system, Soni said it is uncertain what will happen to the rate of uninsured adults with cancer if parts of the ACA are repealed or replaced.

“There are multiple ways it could go,” she said. “Our hypothesis, based on these findings, is that it could reduce insurance coverage for adults with cancer … but we don’t really know by how much. It is more important now than ever to study the impacts of the Affordable Care Act, in order to understand the implications should the ACA be repealed.”

One of Soni’s next research goals is to examine how health insurance status influences treatment options in relation to cancer stage and mortality. Prior studies have shown that a lack of insurance is associated with higher cancer stage at diagnosis, worse clinical care and increased risk of death following a cancer diagnosis.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Oct202017

Closing your bedroom door at night could save your life in a fire

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fire safety experts are urging people to close their bedroom doors before they go to sleep, saying the simple task can potentially save lives in the event of a fire.

“When you can’t get out, the most important thing you can do, close that door between you and the fire," Stephen Kerber, the director of the UL's Firefighter Safety Research Institute (UL FSRI), told ABC News, adding that the simple act "could save your life.”

Alexis King told ABC News that she survived a house fire in Corpus Christi, Texas, that killed her parents and brother when she was only 10 years old. Her family home's smoke alarm battery was not working, and King said she credits closing her bedroom door with saving her life.

"The door helped me to still have clean air ... and to really figure out a way to get out," King said.

Following devastating wildfires in northern California earlier this month that left 42 people dead, the UL FSRI is re-launching its safety campaign, "Close Before You Doze," calling on people to always remember to shutter their doors before they go to sleep.

Approximately half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to a 2017 joint report from the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Researchers with the UL FSRI found that during a fire's spread, closed-door rooms had average temperatures of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while open-door rooms had average temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The UL FSRI used a model home to serve as a test facility in order to demonstrate how crucial it can be to close the door. The model home was outfitted with cameras and sensors to track temperature and gas levels, and all of the information was fed into a control center where the UL FSRI monitored the data.

During the demonstration, which was overseen by the Philadelphia Fire Department, a fire was started in the living room and two bedroom doors were closed, while one bedroom door was left open.

When fire experts opened the model home's front door to feed more oxygen to the fire and increase its strength, part of the window in the room with the open door flew off.

After 10 minutes, the UL FSRI and the Philadelphia Fire Department put the fire out and examined its aftermath.

The bedroom with the open door reached temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to melt the TV that was inside. Carbon monoxide levels soared to 6,000 parts per million. An industry standard carbon monoxide machine would go off at approximately 70 parts per million.

Meanwhile, the bedrooms with the closed doors reached temperatures of up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and carbon monoxide levels were 10 times lower than what was recorded in the room with the open door.

The UL FSRI called a closed bedroom door versus an open bedroom door the difference between "life or death" in a fact sheet on its website.

King told ABC News that she wishes her brother had known this information.

“Every day I wish my brother had closed the door,” she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Oct192017

How this bride found out her husband is a real-life Ethiopian prince

manifeesto/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When one woman met a young man in a popular D.C. nightclub, she had no idea she'd go onto marry him, much less become part of a royal family.

But that's just what happened when Ariana Austin met Joel Makonnen in Pearl Nightclub 12 years ago.

Austin told ABC News it was "days before my 22nd birthday" and she had no idea the relationship would last. "We were just so young; that's the thing," she recalled.

But for Makonnen, 35, the great-grandson of Ethiopia's last emperor, Haile Selassie, he had a feeling right away that Austin was different, noting that "within five minutes, I said, 'You'll be my girlfriend.'"

"It was more like an assertive question," he added with a laugh. "I just had a really good chemistry with her right away. I felt like I already knew her."

Still, the prince was hesitant to reveal his royal heritage to his new girlfriend.

"We were with some friends ... and one of my friends brought it up and said, 'You know, you're lucky. Your boyfriend is a prince!" Makonnen recalled. "And I always kind of like had my own way to introduce it, but he just put it out there and I kind of laughed it off."

"But then she turned to me and said, 'What? Is he serious? What does he mean?'" Makonnen said, explaining how his friend told his future bride, "I am serious. He's the great-grandson of Haile Selassie."

Although his humility tried to downplay the importance, Makonnen said it was Austin's reaction to the news that confirmed what he already knew -- that she was the one.

"She kind of got it right away in the most respectful sense," he explained, "where she was like, 'Wow don’t shrug. It’s a big deal. I’m really impressed and it’s amazing.'"

Austin, 33, told ABC News she was "pleasantly surprised" by the news. "I obviously knew of the emperor, but I didn’t know the full scale of it then."

The two wed in front of more than 300 people on Sept. 9 inside Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Maryland.

Wedding planner Yodit Grebreyes told ABC News, "They chose to get married on the Ethiopian New Year because it’s about new beginnings and they were creating a new life together."

Austin, whose grandfather was a lord mayor of Georgetown, Guyana, and Makonnen are "still in the process of moving," the prince said, adding that they've chosen an apartment in the Washington, D.C., area.

Right now, they're both looking forward to starting a royal life together.

"It feels pretty weighty but I’m excited," Austin said. "It’s the world’s oldest monarchy and there’s just something pretty powerful about that. Of course I'm happy to be a part of it and I hope I can ... be of service and take all this good will and all this good energy and just turn it back and do good work in our countries."

Makonnen added, "I just look forward to being with Ariana all the time and kind of continuing this journey."



Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Oct192017

Southwest flight celebrates 1st 'unmanned' flight with all-female crew

Jevgenij Kulikov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Southwest Airlines has marked their very first "unmanned" flight.

The company tweeted photos on Oct. 18 of the all-female crew posing before takeoff on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

 



The plane was headed from St. Louis to San Francisco.

Four flight attendants took a photo in the main cabin area along with the female pilot and co-pilot.

The pilots also posed for a picture inside the cockpit.

According to 2016 data from the Federal Aviation Administration, there were an estimated 39,187 active women airmen certificates held out of 584,362 pilots total.

Southwest followers replied to the company's tweet on the crew, commending the women working the flight that day.

Southwest Airlines has not yet replied to ABC News' request for a comment.

 



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Thursday
Oct192017

Parents' photos show before-and-after transformation of having kids

(Mike Juliannelle) Mike Juliannelle, 41, the author of Dadandburied.com, poses with his two sons in this undated family photo.(NEW YORK) -- Mike Julianelle, a blogger and father of two, gained internet fame by posting photos of all the things kids can ruin, like when his kids turned a coffee table into a train set.

The 41-year-old Brooklyn dad, is now sharing photos on Instagram of how kids have changed the parents themselves.

 



Julianelle, who writes at DadandBuried.com, posted his own photo this month of how he looked in 2006, before having two kids, compared to 2016, after several years of raising two sons, who are now seven and one years old.

“It’s funny to make fun of yourself and kids and how much your life has changed and what they’ve done to you,” said Julianelle, who noted the change is also “obviously” because he aged.

Julianelle, who works full time as a marketing writer, said he has received hundreds of submissions from other parents to share on his Instagram page.

“People like to know they’re not alone,” said Julianelle, who started his blog as an antidote to the blogs portraying parenthood as perfect and complete joy. “It’s the solidarity of it and there’s a contingent of parents who like poking fun at the idea of parenthood.”

One of those parents, Kate Cortelyou, sent Julianelle her before-and-after photo.

 

 



Cortelyou, 32, from Nashville, said she finds herself “laughing out loud” at Julianelle’s take on parenthood. The before-and-after photos, she said, resonated with her experience.

“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, who is this person,” said Cortelyou, who has a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter with her husband, Justin.

“Not to say we never dress ourselves up but there are days, especially in the early days and with two toddlers, when you’ll go a week without showering and not even notice it,” she said. “These first several years of your kids’ life are just so dead exhausting.”

 

See below for more parents' before-and-after photos:

 

 

 



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Thursday
Oct192017

Man overcomes paralysis to run half-marathon with his surgeon and the driver who hit him

(Courtesy Dean Otto) Dean Otto; Will Huffman, left, the driver of the truck; and Dr. Matt McGirt, the surgeon, participated in the Napa Half Marathon to celebrate Otto's rehabilitation.(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Dean Otto of Charlotte, North Carolina, was riding his bike one humid morning in September 2016 when the unimaginable occurred: The husband, father and marathoner was struck by a truck.

His spine was fractured. His pelvis, tailbone and ribs were broken. And he could not feel his legs.

After surgery, Otto's surgeon Dr. Matt McGirt gave him a one percent to two percent chance of ever walking on his own again.

But, after months of grueling physical therapy, Otto was taking his first steps with the help of a walker. Slowly, he picked up speed, eventually climbing stairs and then running.

"As far as my recovery goes, it's been a really long, rough road," he told ABC News Wednesday. "I've worked really hard but I've had a lot of great support from my doctors, my physical therapists as well as my family and friends supporting me."

During Otto's rehabilitation, he was also visited in the hospital by Will Huffman, the driver of the truck. The two became friends.

Otto says that forgiveness had been key to his recovery.

"To be able to forgive Will immediately after the accident has been paramount in my positive attitude, in my recovery from this terrible accident," he said.

Dean Otto's spine was torn in two and dislocated, his doctor said. He also had no movement in his legs. "The odds were stacked against him," his doctor said.

Eventually, Otto invited Huffman and McGirt, with whom he'd formed a friendship as well, to run a half-marathon with him. Neither men had run in years but felt motivated by Otto's perseverance.

On Sept. 24, a year to the day of the accident, the three completed the Napa Half Marathon in California.

"To be able to do that with my doctor Matt McGirt as well as Will Huffman, the guy who was driving the truck that morning on Sept. 24, was fantastic," Otto said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Man overcomes paralysis to run half-marathon with his surgeon and the driver who hit him

Wednesday
Oct182017

Woman carries sister's 'rainbow baby' after loss of twins: 'I'd do it for her'

(Courtesy Beth Gaudino) Sisters Anna Howat, 29, and Beth Gaudino, 32, photographed with their doctor, Andrea DiLuigi. (TOLLAND, Conn.) -- A selfless woman is carrying a child for her sister who experienced the heartbreaking loss of newborn twins.

Anna Howat is due to give birth to her niece, Charlotte Grace, on Feb. 2. Howat offered to carry her sister Beth Gaudino's baby when Gaudino had difficulties conceiving after losing her son and daughter at 20 weeks pregnant.

"She's healthy, she's beautiful, so we are getting really excited," Gaudino told ABC News Wednesday of the upcoming birth of her daughter. "My sister says to people, 'Well, wouldn't you do that for your own sister?' To her, it's not a choice that had to be made. Of course she would do it. I think it's amazing and I'd do it for her."

Gaudino, 32, of Tolland, Connecticut, unexpectedly went into labor halfway through her pregnancy, in August 2015. Both babies died.

Due to complications from the pregnancy and a struggle with endometriosis, Gaudino underwent several surgeries on her uterus. She and her husband tried getting pregnant again via IVF from December 2015 until the last transfer failed in April 2017, she said.

"I would always say, 'I don't think I want children' just because I am a very career-oriented woman," Gaudino said. "And then I met my husband. I was like, 'I'm so in love with you. I want to have a mini Justin [her husband] and Beth running around.'

"Dealing with that emotion [losing the twins] and trying to heal from it and look to the future..then having all these medical issues, it gave us so much stress and it literally ruled my life."

Gaudino's sister, Anna Howat, 29, was still pregnant with her own daughter, Penelope, now 1, when she told Gaudino that she'd like to carry a child for her.

Howat said she had suffered three miscarriages before having Penelope.

"I feel like it's not the same losing babies at 20 weeks as opposed to my miscarriages at 8 weeks, but I could know what she was going through in a sense," Howat told ABC News. "Seeing your sister struggle even harder, of course you would do it."

In May 2017, Howat underwent a successful embryo transfer and became pregnant. The Gaudinos will name the baby Charlotte "Charlie" Grace Gaudino, after their twin baby girl, Grace, whom they lost two years ago.

Kathy Varkal is a registered nurse the third-party program coordinator at the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services in Farmington, Connecticut. Varkal worked with the women during the transfer process.

"I think their closeness and the way they interact is going to make this usually very tumultuous process a breeze because these two, they finish each other's sentences, joke with each other and they have each other's support," Varkal told ABC News. "It's been really hard for both of them, but they laugh at every visit and they carry each other through."

On Sept. 30, Howat and Gaudino both participated in a photo session with women who are expecting their own rainbow babies.

Photographer JoAnn Marrero invited the sisters to be part of her project after they hired her for maternity, birth and newborn pictures.

"I called Beth and Anna and I said, 'I'm doing this rainbow thing do you guys want to join me? and they said, 'Absolutely,'" Marrero told ABC News. "It's such a beautiful story. They both had such losses, but were happy to join in."

"It was nice to hear people's stories and how they're getting to their happy endings," Gaudino said of the photo shoot.

Howat said she is looking forward to helping her sister welcome her daughter, Charlie, into the world. She hopes Charlie will be close to her cousins, Penelope and Finley, 11 months.



Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct182017

11-year-old girl inspired by Flint water crisis creates cheap kit to test lead

(Courtesy Bharathi Rao) Gitanjali Rao, 11, works on her lead testing device at home in Lone Tree, Colo., in an undated handout photo.(LONE TREE, Colo.) -- An 11-year-old girl inspired by the Flint, Mich., water crisis has been named “America’s Top Young Scientist” after she developed a device that can quickly detect lead levels in water.
Interested in Flint?

“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” Gitanjali Rao told ABC News. “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water and I wanted to do something to change this.”

In Flint, elevated levels of lead were found in the city's water supply after the city disconnected from Detroit's water line as a cost-cutting measure and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014.

Gitanjali, a seventh grader, also saw firsthand how complicated it can be to test water for lead by watching her parents, Bharathi Rao and Ram Rao, try to test the water in their Lone Tree, Colo., home.

She said she found a way to help solve the problem while browsing the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering’s website, a site she said she checks weekly to see “if there’s anything new.”

The website featured an article on new technologies used to detect hazardous substances, which Gitanjali figured she could adapt to detect lead.

Gitanjali reached out to her parents, both engineers, her teachers and experts at local colleges and universities for help.

“We had to learn as she asked questions,” said Ram Rao. “Our first question was, ‘Is this what you really want to go after? Because it’s a sizable problem.’”

He continued, “Then you go one day at a time. There was no real expectation that she would necessarily finish, but the journey itself would be the learning experience. It turned out she had a lot more determination.”

Gitanjali spent months trying to convince local high schools and colleges to give her lab time to continue her experiment.

At home, Gitanjali worked on her project in the “science room” she asked her parents to create for her when they moved from Tennessee to Colorado.

“I have a room with green walls and black polka dots and a huge white table for all my experiments,” said Gitanjali, who also plays piano, swims, fences and dances. “Most of my code was done there. Most of the spills and failures were made there.”

When Gitanjali was named one of 10 finalists in the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge earlier this year, she was able to partner with a 3M scientist to help develop her innovation.

The result is Tethys, a sensor-based device designed to detect lead in water faster than other techniques currently on the market.

The device utilizes carbon nanotube sensors –- similar to the technology Gitanjali saw on the MIT website –- to detect lead. It can then send the results to a smartphone.

Gitanjali presented Tethys to a panel of judges this week in a live competition at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn.

She was named the grand prize winner and received a $25,000 prize.

"It's not hyperbole to say she really blew us out of the water," said Dr. Brian Barnhardt, an Illinois school superintendent and one of the seven 3M judges. "The other nine kids, they were also such amazing kids, so for her to stand out the way she did with a peer group like this is like an exclamation point on top of it."

He added, "She is the kind of young person that we can all look forward to what she’s going to do for society."

Gitanjali plans to continue on her goal "to save lives and make the world a better place."

The woman whom Gitanjali said inspired her to pursue science and follow her passion to develop the lead testing kit believes Gitanjali can do it.

"She really wants to change the world," said Jennifer Hartsell Stockdale, an attorney who was Gitanjali's STEM program teacher in Tennessee. "She has the intellectual capacity to learn anything she wishes, the confidence to take on every project ... and the perseverance to complete anything she starts."

Gitanjali plans to invest most of her 3M prize money back into her project to make it commercially available. She also plans to save some of the $25,000 for college.

"Advice I would give to other kids would be to never be afraid to try," Gitanjali said. "I had so many failures when I was doing my tests. It was frustrating the first couple of times, but towards the end, everything started coming together."

"I knew all these failures, which were learning experiences, would make my experiment better."



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