Nurses honor tiny 'graduates' leaving the NICU

Courtesy CaroMont Health(GASTONIA, N.C.) -- A North Carolina hospital is celebrating babies who are ending their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The staff at CaroMont Health in Gastonia, North Carolina, honor their tiny patients with a special photo shoot and a graduation cap.

About six months ago, Nurse Melissa Jordan began the "graduation ceremonies" after she helped care for an infant who spent 62 days in the NICU.

On the day he was leaving, the baby's parents dressed him up in a "NICU Grad" onesie, which inspired Jordan to continue the tradition.

"It's an emotional roller coaster for a preemie," Jordan, 28, told ABC News. "One day could be really happy and then another day there can be several setbacks. You have to be there emotionally for the parents and celebrate every single, teeny milestone."

On the last day of the NICU stay, each baby gets a professional photo shoot and a foam cap with a message written by Jordan.

Bella Baby Photography takes the photos of each graduate free of charge.

"We thought it'd be a great experience for us to give back to the families and be a part of that milestone as the babies are being discharged," said photographer Amanda Meixsell.

Jordan will display the pictures of all the NICU grads on the walls of the unit to give hope to preemie parents, she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Saints fan with chronic liver disease to be honored at 2017 ESPYS

New Orleans Saints & Ochsner Hospital for Children(NEW ORLEANS) -- Jarrius Robertson, the teenage superfan of the New Orleans Saints who is battling a chronic liver disease, will be honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at this year's ESPYs, it was announced Wednesday.

The 15-year-old who has already undergone two liver transplants and 13 surgeries works as the official "hype man" for the football team. Robertson was able to meet some of the Saints players in 2015 when they visited the Ochsner Hospital for Children in Jefferson, Louisiana.

“When I first heard the news I thought I was dreaming!” Robertson said in a statement of learning that he was chosen for the ESPY. “The ESPYs? For real? The past two years have been a blessing in so many ways for me and my family. I have been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do."

Earlier this year, Robertson made headlines when he stole the show at the 2017 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in New Orleans.

The teen also appeared live on ABC News' Good Morning America last year, where he opened up about the lifesaving work you can do through organ donation.

“It takes lives to save lives,” Jarrius said on GMA in 2016. “That means if people go out and donate anything like blood, organ, kidneys or liver, then they can save somebody else’s life.”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in a statement that Robertson is "such an inspirational young man."

"His strength, determination and resolve along with his infectious energy and attitude should be an example that no matter the circumstances or adversity with a positive outlook and embracing the motto of ‘Don’t give up … Don’t ever give up’ there isn’t a challenge that cannot be conquered,” Brees added, quoting the late basketball player Jim Valvano, for whom the ESPY Perseverance Award is named.

The 25th annual ESPYs will air on Wednesday, July 12, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


How 4 technologies designed to prevent hot car deaths work

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- More than 800 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars since 1990, including 12 so far this year, according to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit focused on children’s safety.

The organization is working with lawmakers to put a stop to these preventable deaths. Last week Representatives Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Hot Cars Act to ensure that an alert system is standard in every car to prevent these tragedies.

"If there are technologies that can prevent that kind of tragedy, we should just do it right away," Schakowsky told ABC News.

There are several devices already on the market that are designed to prevent hot car deaths. "Good Morning America" tried out four different technologies: a car seat with built-in technology; an alert system already in some General Motors cars; a sensor system that can be put in a car seat; and a popular traffic app.

ABC News tried out four popular devices.

1. Sensorsafe is a technology found in some car seats from the brand Evenflo. There is a receiver that goes into your car’s diagnostics port, a socket located inside a vehicle that accesses various vehicle subsystems where small receivers can be installed to tap into a car's computer system. That receiver communicates with the car seat's smart chest clip – letting the driver know through a series of chimes whether a child is still in the seat after the car is turned off.

2. General Motor's Rear Seat Reminder System: This feature in some GM cars uses back door sensors that become activated when either the rear door is opened or closed within 10 minutes of the vehicle being started, or while the vehicle is running. Under these circumstances, when you reach your destination a reminder appears on the dashboard as well as an audible chime notification. When Faris opened the rear door before starting the car and then turned off the car, this reminder popped up on the dashboard: "Rear Seat Reminder. Look In Rear Seat."

But what happens if the driver stops and restarts the car without opening the back door? To test this scenario, Faris stopped at a gas station and the reminder went off again when she turned off the car. She got out and then, without opening the back door this time, restarted the car to continue on her drive. When she reached her final destination and turned off the car, there was no reminder.

GM told ABC News that its Rear Seat Reminder feature is "designed to remind drivers to check the back seat as they exit their vehicle under certain circumstances. The feature is intended to activate when either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is running."

3. Driver’s Little Helper Sensor System is a sensor system sold at several major retailers that can be put in a car seat. The sensor goes under the car seat padding where the child sits. The sensor is then attached to a battery pack and synced with an app. You can set when you want the app to send you notifications after you stop the car. You can set the interval for when you receive the notification -- the fastest being a minute. For our demo, Faris set the app to 1 minute notifications.

When Faris pulled into the driveway with her phone and stopped the car, a notification came through after 1 minute and 39 seconds. She tried it a second time, the alert took 1 minute and 6 seconds.

Driver's Little Helper told ABC News the alert was received "well within the threshold of safety."

Also, if you don’t respond to the notification, Driver’s Little Helper will send a text and email to your emergency contacts.

4. Waze, a popular traffic app, has a setting that will remind a driver to check his or her back seat when a destination entered into the app is reached. But it won’t alert a driver during an impromptu stop. As Faris pulled into the driveway for her Waze destination, she received an alert before she turned off the car: "Check your car before you leave."

In a statement to ABC News, Waze said: "You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of a loved one or a pet. Waze Child Reminder is one more step parents can take as added insurance, building a habit to remember to check the back seat."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


House clears major Veterans Affairs reform bill, sends to White House

United States Department of Veterans Affairs(WASHINGTON) -- The House overwhelmingly approved a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs Tuesday, sending the measure to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

The bill, passed on a bipartisan 368-55 vote, would make it easier for the VA Secretary to fire department employees, a move that advocates say would improve accountability at the scandal-plagued agency.

It would also boost protections for whistleblowers that report wrongdoing, and create an office within the VA to support whistleblower protections.

Congress set its sights on VA reform in 2014, after a whistleblower claimed that roughly 40 veterans died waiting up to 21 months for care at a VA hospital in Phoenix. That scandal led to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May of 2014.

“It’s common sense -– we need to hold our employees accountable for their actions if they violate the public trust, and at the same time protect whistleblowers from retaliation,” Secretary David Shulkin, who supported the bill, said in a statement.

Speaking on the House floor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), said the bill addresses the VA’s “culture of ambivalence” and “lack of accountability.”

“Fixing the culture at the VA requires us to acknowledge the great work of the many without leaving them tainted with the incompetence and scandal of the few," he said. "It requires removing the bad apples."

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minnesota), the top Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement that the bill “will bring real, long-lasting accountability” to the VA “in a way that will stand up to constitutional muster.”

The bill was criticized by American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 federal workers. The group claimed the measure is anti-union and would undermine due process for workers.

“To call this a dangerous precedent is an understatement," J. David Cox, the union’s national president, said in a May hearing before the Senate. "To anyone who cares about the apolitical and objectively qualified civil service this bill is a disgrace."

The Senate previously approved the bill on a unanimous voice vote.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Man, almost 90, serenades his wife while celebrating their 70th anniversary

Courtesy of Robin Vermeer Bobo(HOT SPRINGS, Ark.) -- Seventy years together sounds awfully sweet for this couple.

Paul Miller serenaded his wife Imogene Miller with a sweet rendition of Bing Crosby’s “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” at their 70th anniversary celebration on Saturday, while lovingly holding her hand.

“I started practicing so it would sound just right,” Paul Miller, 89, told ABC News. “I didn’t just reach up out of the clear blue sky to choose it.”

The lovebirds from Hot Springs, Arkansas, wed on June 15, 1947.

“She’s the only one I’ve ever had,” said Paul Miller. “It started out when I was 18 and it’s gone along just as great as ever.”

June 15 is also Paul’s 90th birthday.

Their granddaughter Sarah Saragusa said Imogene wouldn’t marry Paul until he turned 20, so they wed on his birthday.

“Their story is really cute. My grandmother is actually a few months older,” said Saragusa, 36. “She told my grandfather she wouldn’t marry him until he turned 20 so they got married on his birthday. She wanted him to be a mature man at 20 before they got married. They met at the Western Union, he really pursued her. He’s always been the outgoing one and she’s very sweet. He’s always said she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever known.”

The couple renewed their vows at The Vines at Shelly Lane in Hot Springs, a wedding venue their son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Caroline Miller, own.

“We had it all set it up and he had a microphone and he sang to her,” said Caroline Miller. “For someone that’s almost 90 to be able to sing like that is just amazing.”

Paul Miller’s advice for everlasting love?

“Pick the right girl,” he said.

The video of Paul Miller singing to his lovely bride has gone viral with nearly 75,000 views in less than 24 hours after the local ABC affiliate, WATV, posted the touching video to their Facebook page.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Police, strangers fix 95-year-old's air conditioner after Texas heat prompts him to dial 911

Jennifer and Christopher Weir (FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Police and strangers came to an elderly man's rescue last week after he dialed 911 to report his broken air conditioning unit.

On June 8, the Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department answered a call from 95-year-old Julius Hatley, who said his central air had stopped working in the 90-degree heat.

"I know we're not A/C repair people, but we got done with one call and went straight there," Officer Christopher Weir told ABC News Tuesday. "I started sweating immediately, as soon as I got there. [Hatley] said he woke up in sweat and didn't know what to do, so he called us."

Weir, 31, and his partner, Officer William Margolis, drove to a local Home Depot to purchase a window A/C for Hatley out of their own pockets. When they arrived, the store's managers insisted on contributing $150 toward the unit.

Weir and his colleagues then installed the unit in Hatley's house until they could figure out how to pay someone to repair his central air.

"He was grateful," Weir said. "His smile is infectious and he's a World War II vet and he shouldn't have to be with no A/C. Once in a while, we see people where we can do something that makes them feel better and it makes us feel better too."

Hatley's story aired on the local news in Fort Worth. Watching was Matt Ketchum, owner of the Lone Star Refrigeration company based in Red Oak, Texas.

"In the story, they were trying to figure out how to get the [central] air fixed," Ketchum told ABC News. "I called the Fort Worth Police Department that night telling them we'll donate our time and materials."

"My brother is law enforcement as well," he added. "My employees are veterans. Something clicked to have me help."

Ketchum repaired Hatley's central air system free of charge.

Hatley was appreciative of the kindness shown toward him over the two days, Ketchum said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Teen dances to the beat after lifesaving heart transplant

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A teenage heart transplant survivor is enjoying viral fame after he was captured on video dancing to celebrate both his heart transplant and his hospital discharge.

Amari Hall, 15, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, received a heart transplant in March at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Just six days after the transplant, he surprised everyone when he began dancing in his hospital bed.

As Amari started to dance, so did the nurses, doctor and relatives who supported him and saved his life.

“I picked up my camera, I wanted to show the world what a huge heart warrior he was,” said Amari’s aunt, Charawn Hunter, who posted the video on Facebook originally to share with family around the world. "He’s like a 50-year-old man in a 15-year-old’s body. He has such a whole spirit."

Amari, who also loves to rap, had been hospitalized since December awaiting a transplant. The teenager was born with a heart defect -- hypoplastic left heart syndrome -- that required him to undergo four surgeries prior to his transplant.

When Amari's health began to fail last year, it was he who convinced his more nervous parents it was time to move forward with the transplant.

"He stopped me during the conversation [with doctors] and he said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. I need to ask mom something. What are you afraid of? It’s my time. I need to have this done so let’s get it over with,'" recalled Amari's mom, Juaquinna Hall. "He’s always been this fighter, this go-getter."

Amari could not walk for nearly a month after the approximately 16-hour operation and required extensive rehabilitation to regain his strength. The sight of his literally busting out of his hospital room's door May 22 to go home was even more meaningful.

Recalling the sight weeks later, Amari's mom was left speechless. And Amari lived up to his reputation by dancing his way out of the hospital, too.

"That's Amari," Hall said.

As he recovers, Amari is looking forward to a future of doing more of what he loves, dancing.

“I want to be dancing with the ladies,” said Amari, who was strong enough to take his girlfriend on a date last weekend to celebrate her birthday.

Amari will continue to be closely monitored by doctors and undergo regular heart biopsies, in addition to taking medicine to prevent his body’s immune system from rejecting his new heart.

“It is critical that Amari comply and take his immunosuppression medications for the rest of his life,” Amari’s transplant cardiologist, Carissa Baker-Smith, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Amari and his parents know that he has to take it every day at the right time without fail. A few days of forgetting could be life-threatening.”

The positive feedback Amari, who plans to return to high school in August, has seen on social media has also helped the teen come to terms with his life-changing and lifesaving surgery.

"He would tell me he had regrets and once said, ‘I hate that I made this decision,’ because it was three months before an organ was made available," Hall said. "After all of this has been going on, he told [his aunt] yesterday, 'I’m glad I had my heart transplant.'"

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


European Union nurse applicants drop by 96 percent since Brexit vote

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- There has been a “sharp drop” in nurses registering to work in the U.K. since the Brexit referendum, according to the BBC.  

The Nursing and Midwifery Council saw only 46 registrations in April this year, compared to more than 1,300 last July, a fall of 96 percent.

Overall, there are 650,000 nurses on the register; 36,000 of these have been trained in the E.U.

The council said the introduction of English language testing in January 2016 for nurses may have played a role in the decline, but the Health Foundation, a British charity that funds health care research, said these findings should act as a “wake-up call,” according to the BBC.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC that the "unstable" circumstances surrounding Brexit are causing a "drain of talent" out of the U.K.

This comes as the National Health Service struggles with vacancies in the nursing industry. In May, the Royal College of Nursing said one in nine posts in England was vacant, adding up to a shortage of 40,000 nurses, the BBC reported.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


12-year-old who helped deliver own baby brother wants to be an obstetrician

Courtesy Zack and Dede Carraway (BRANDON, Miss.) -- A 12-year-old girl who was captured in photos delivering her baby brother now has dreams of becoming an obstetrician.

Jacee Dellapenna helped her mother’s doctor to help bring baby Cayson into the world on June 6.

Mom Dede Carraway told ABC News she was "extremely" proud of her daughter's actions.

"Every picture you see her face changing," added Dede Carraway of Brandon, Mississippi. "Just looking at her, there was not a dry eye in the room. It was so emotional."

Dede Carraway, a mom of three, said Jacee asked permission to be present in the delivery room for the birth of her brother. Dede and her husband, Zack Carraway, discussed Jacee's request and agreed.

The day of Cayson's birth, Jacee was upset that she didn't have a good view of him being born. It was then where obstetrician, Walter Wolfe, invited her to assist in the birth.

A spokesman at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center confirmed to ABC News in an email that the Carraway baby was born at the facility.

Jacee's stepdad, Zack Carraway, snapped pictures of the touching moment when Cayson was born.

The images quickly received thousands of responses on Facebook, Dede Carraway said.

"She's just like, 'Mama I'm famous!'" Dede Carraway said of her daughter. "If I didn't feel like she wasn't ready to do what she did or be in the room, I wouldn't [have] let her be in the room. Everybody's just real supportive of her.

"[A]fter she did this hands on she said, 'Mom, I want to be an OB-GYN."

Cayson Carraway was born weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces.

He joins big sister Jacee and 1-year-old brother Zadyn.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Republican senators float alternatives to comprehensive Obamacare replacement bill

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans continue to hammer away at a comprehensive package to replace the Affordable Care Act, but some of their colleagues are already looking beyond that bill, publicly suggesting other ways to at least score some points on an Obamacare replacement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week that he was looking to bringing a proposal to the Senate floor “in the near future,” likely before the July 4 congressional recess. But just because Senate Republicans come up with a bill doesn’t mean they have the 50 votes needed to pass it (with Vice President Mike Pence as the tie-breaker).

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has been part of a group of senators working on the draft legislation, said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that he was unsure he could vote for the bill based on what he has seen of it.

“It's not yet clear what it is going to look like, at the end of the day. I have some grave concerns about what we're doing so far,” Lee said.

While some senators like Lee are signaling they aren’t a “yes” yet, others are suggesting other, more piecemeal measures in order to rack up smaller wins on health care. Still other senators are floating different legislation entirely.

Here’s a look at some of the alternatives being presented:

Johnson: ‘Plan B’

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told reporters last week that he thinks Senate leaders should shift to a “Plan B” before the end of the month. “You really need to fish or cut bait here on something short term to stabilize the markets,” he said.

While Johnson’s office has not expanded on what he meant, it’s possible he is referring to the $7 billion in cost-sharing payments that insurance companies receive to keep low-income consumers on their rolls. Even under current law, the fate of these payments is in dispute: House Republicans filed a lawsuit in 2014 against them, saying the payments were illegal because Congress didn’t appropriate the money, but the Trump administration said in April it was willing to continue the payments.

Enshrining the payments in standalone legislation would at least grant insurers some certainty that the payments won’t disappear, according to health care experts.

Graham: Collapse and replace

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has long said he believes Republicans should simply let the Affordable Care Act collapse on itself, then, assuming it does, force Democrats to be part of the coalition to rebuild the system.

Appearing on CBS over the weekend, he outlined one of the pitches he would make to Democrats, getting them on board with a high-risk pool that insulates healthier people from the higher costs associated with sicker, older people. Democrats oppose that idea because they say it would lead to much higher premiums for such sick people.

“My advice is if we can't replace Obamacare by ourselves, to go to the Democrats and say this: Ten percent of the sick people in this country drive 90 percent of the cost for all of us. Let's take those 10 percent of really sick people, put them in a federal managed care system so they'll get better outcomes, and save the private sector market if we can't do this by ourselves. That's a good place to start.”

Cassidy/Collins: A different bill altogether

While they have both participated in the Senate GOP health care talks, moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have also never given up on a bill they wrote together. Their Patient Freedom Act would essentially wipe the slate clean, eliminating the defining elements of the ACA, including the individual mandate and the essential health benefits requirement.

But it would then allow states to decide whether to reimpose the Obamacare regulations or come up with their own system, with varying levels of government contributions based on what sort of programs they come up with.

Even as the Senate was gearing up to craft its own bill, Collins was pushing for Senate leadership to consider her and Cassidy’s bill. The two senators also met in May with a group of Democrats and Republicans to determine whether there was a bipartisan path forward on health care, for which the answer appears, at least at present, to be no.

“I urge my colleagues to support the comprehensive ACA replacement plan Senator Cassidy and I introduced that will allow more Americans to obtain health insurance, preserve significant consumer protections and help moderate the cost of health care,” Collins said in a statement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio