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Entries in Donations (6)

Saturday
Mar162013

Couple's Dream Honeymoon Comes True Thanks to Kindness of Strangers

Strangers donated over $60,000 to give one couple battling cancer their dream wedding and honeymoon. Photo Courtesy ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Marrying his high school sweetheart in his hometown of Kewanee, Ill., was a day Nolan Keane had dreamed of, but didn't know if he'd live to see.

That's because Keane, 28, has been battling brain cancer since 2008 -- fighting the disease for nearly four years longer than doctors originally expected.

"We have wanted to do this for a long time and we've talked about it for a really long time," his sweetheart, Morgan Carstens, 26, said of the wedding. "It's amazing that we get to see our friends and family and be together."

Keane, whom Carstens now proudly calls her husband, was diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer in 2008 and told he had one year to live.

The diagnosis of stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme was devastating for the Missouri State University grad and former Division I baseball player, but he was determined to fight.

Fight he did, undergoing eight brain surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy and trial treatments, with Carstens all the while by his side.

Carstens, a 26-year-old registered nurse, put her work on hold, moving in with Keane's family to care for him, helping him with the simple things like getting dressed, taking a shower or walking without his wheelchair.

"I didn't think twice about it. I knew he needed me and I would kind of feel guilty taking care of others," she said. "We just take it day by day and we make it work. ... You get put in a situation and you do what you have to do."

Last November, on a family trip to Disney World, Keane proposed to Carstens, getting out of his wheelchair and down on one knee, to her surprise.

"We went to go see the fireworks. Since there was so much walking, he told me, 'My back is really hurting. Can you get me out the wheelchair?' And then [he] got down on one knee and I forgot to say yes. I think he kind of knew by my response," she said.

After the results of a recent MRI had shown that Keane's cancer had spread and he had just months left to live, Keane told family and friends his final wishes were to marry Carstens -- something he considered long overdue -- and take their honeymoon to the place he proposed, Walt Disney World.

"He just loves that place and has gone every year growing up," she said. "He's a little kid at heart and when he goes it brings back so many good memories. [It is] a place to forget about all the bad things and enjoy every single moment."

Friends and family set out to make the couple's final days together as memorable as possible.

Carstens' sisters, Jaclyn Carstens and Lindsey Williamson, were determined to help give the couple the "dream wedding" they felt they deserved, but couldn't afford on their own. They rallied the community, raising money and awareness on Facebook.

Then, in late February, they set up a fundraising page on GiveForward.com, a website that specializes in raising money in medical crises, and the page went viral. The couple's story was first reported in the Chicago Sun-Times and quickly spread.

In only four days, complete strangers contributed $60,000 -- far exceeding their initial $20,000 goal -- to put towards their honeymoon to Disney World. Now, the donations have totaled $66,397, shocking Keane and Carstens.

"We have been only asking for support, encouragement and prayers, so when all of this blew up we all had every single emotion as possible about it. It's inspiring to see so many good-hearted and caring people out there," Carstens said. "We were kind of in shock. We'll sit up and we'll read [the comments], and sometimes we'll cry and smile. We are blessed."

On March 9, Keane got his first wish fulfilled. The two tied the knot in Peoria, Ill., surrounded by friends and family. Local wedding vendors donated everything, including the photographer, hair and makeup for the bridal party and food, to make their big day a fairy tale.

"It started with flowers and friends donating some food," Carstens said, "and then a wedding planner donated her time to get things together. It's been an outpouring from the community. They've made this whole day possible for us."

Their slogan, "Nolan Wins," which has been printed on wristbands worn by supporters throughout Keane's fight against brain cancer, was tweaked for the occasion: "Nolan Wins, Nolan Weds."

"He's been such a fighter. He's grown into such an amazing person. He was an amazing person and he's even more amazing now," the bride said.

Carstens said they plan to take their honeymoon to Disney World at the end of March and put the rest of the money towards medical bills and towards making the accommodations at Keane's parents' home even more wheelchair-friendly.

"This experience has made us look at life differently," she said. "We are extremely thankful."

Disney is the parent company of ABC News and ABCNews.com.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar232012

Pig Sells for $20K -- Money Goes to Cancer Patient

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(TRENTON, Fla.) -- One Florida 10-year-old had big plans for his 255-pound pig. Chandler Beach, with help from the Suwannee River Fair, has raised more than $20,000 from the sale of his pig, all to help an 18-year-old boy who is battling cancer for the second time.

Bids started coming in Wednesday after Chandler told a fair volunteer about his plan to donate the proceeds from his pig’s sale to Corbin Wiggins, an athlete at Trenton High School. When Chandler stepped into the arena, the auctioneer stopped to announce that the boy would be giving the money to a friend of his who is battling cancer. This was the first time Chandler had shown an animal.

“Usually, they go for about $3 a pound,” Jennifer Beach, Chandler’s grandmother, told ABC News. “It went to $8 a pound, and we thought it was over, but it just kind of exploded from there.”

“It originally sold for $8 and we were thrilled,” Angie Wiggins, Corbin’s mother, told ABC News. “I ended up leaving early when it was at $62 a pound because that was after an hour of people sending in bids continuously.”

And the bids are still coming. Chandler’s pig, which he has been raising since November, was at $82 a pound as of Thursday night, Beach said. Although the fair is over, bidding for the pig will be extended until Friday, March 30. A representative for the fair could not be reached for comment.

“It spread like wildfire, and everyone kept giving out love,” Beach said. “It was just amazing, absolutely amazing.”

Corbin’s battle began last June when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The Wiggins thought he was clear in November until a hit during a basketball game landed him in the hospital. A few days later, the family received the call that the cancer was back. Corbin couldn’t attend Wednesday’s bidding because he’d had a fever the night before.

“He was pretty upset that he missed it,” Wiggins said. “He is just so happy for what Chandler has done, because he’s been a godsend. He is definitely an angel.”

Four weeks ago, Chandler, who loves the rodeo, woke up giddy in his Trenton, Fla., home.

“I know what I’m going to do with my pig money,” he told his grandmother. “I’m going to give it to Corbin Wiggins.”

Beach said it was completely his idea. She asked if he had plans to keep a portion of the proceeds.

“No,” he said. “The good Lord said to give him all of it.”

Chandler and Corbin had never met before. Chandler learned about Corbin’s story in the local newspaper. Chandler’s mother, Misty, called Wiggins asking if it would be OK for Chandler to donate the money.

“I told her to talk him out of it, because that’s a lot of money,” Wiggins said. “But Misty said he was adamant.”

The boys met two weeks ago, and really hit it off, Wiggins said.

“Chandler is so kind-hearted and this has been so overwhelming what he did,” Wiggins said.

Corbin’s cancer returned just as he turned 18, so he missed out on a trip through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Wiggins said. Chandler’s goal was to raise enough money so Corbin could go to Disney World and be a kid for a few days. Wiggins says he will definitely get it.

"Give the money to Corbin and the glory to God,” Chandler said. “I’m just in the middle.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan112012

Women Skipping Both Banks for Free Online Sperm

Michael Abbey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Using a sperm bank can quickly break the bank. That’s why a growing number of women have turned to the underground, online world of free sperm donation.

There are websites such as knowndonorregistry.com that offer a list of hundreds of men willing to donate free sperm to thousands of women eager to conceive.

“It’s a weird blend of Facebook, Match.com and a traditional sperm bank,” said Tony Dokoupil, a reporter who spent months investigating the subject for a Newsweek cover story. “You get all [the] medical information, about the health and fitness of this person you might procreate with.”

Watch ABC's 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET for more on the new online world of free sperm donation

After finding a “match” online, women and donors often arrange to meet in public places such as a coffee house where the exchange takes place. The donor generally uses a sterile cup to make the donation in the bathroom. He then hands the sample to the recipient, who can inseminate herself using an “instead cup,” a disposable menstrual cup that fits onto the cervix, or she can take the sperm home or to a nearby hotel to inseminate with a drugstore syringe.

“Having a child is a big deal, and there’s a lot of people out there saying, ‘I don’t want to have a child with somebody that I haven’t talked to, that I can’t meet face to face,’” said Beth Gardner, who founded the Free Sperm Donor Registry website.

Gardner also emphasized the importance of having written agreements and knowing the health of the donor. “Make sure that everybody is writing down and putting their name on what it is that they’re agreeing to do,” she said. “We also highly encourage -- can’t even say how much we encourage -- STD testing.”

Fertility experts and those who monitor the websites caution women to be careful about whom they are meeting on the Internet. "Out there online, not everything is as it represents itself to be,” said Dr. Jessica Brown, a fertility specialist in New York who has helped dozens of women get pregnant.

It’s important to, “weed out men who may be doing this for bizarre reasons who may have some type of psychiatric illness or personality disorder,” she said.

Here are some of the main differences between sperm banks and free sperm donations:

Sperm Banks

  • Regulation:  Controlled by the Food and Drug Administration
  • Cost: A vial or unit of sperm ranges from $200 to $700. Insemination procedures start at $300 on average, with in vitro fertilization costing as much as $15,000.
  • Identity of Donors: Donors are anonymous. Open-ID donors allow their offspring to contact them once they are 18. A Directed Sperm Donor is someone selected by the woman or couple who voluntarily donates his sperm.
  • Parental Rights:  No parental rights
  • Sperm:  Frozen, which banks and doctors say is as effective as fresh
  • Method: Artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization
  • Screening and Tests: Tests are conducted for infectious diseases, STDs and genetic problems. Sperm is shelved for six months and then tested again before it’s available to recipients, as HIV and other STDs can take up to six months, after infection, to be detected. Some sperm banks conduct psychological screenings to detect pathological traits.

Free Sperm Donation

  • Regulation: Not controlled by the FDA
  • Cost: Free
  • Identity of Donors: Donors and recipients can meet face-to-face
  • Parental Rights: Recipients can ask donors to sign an agreement relinquishing parental rights. These agreements might not be legally binding.
  • Sperm:  Fresh
  • Method: Natural (sex) or artificial (syringe/"instead cup") insemination
  • Screening and Tests: Donors and recipients are responsible for their own STD testing and screening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec062011

More than One Sexual Partner? You May Be an ‘Elevated Risk’ Donor

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Proposed guidelines that would label organ donors who have had more than one sexual partner in the last 12 months as risky are for the benefit of patients receiving the organs and would not halt or ban donations, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said Tuesday.

The proposed guidelines, however, remained controversial in the transplant community.

“What we are trying to do is make sure patients are informed about the risks the organ might have so they can make the best decision about whether the transplant is right for them,” Dr. Matthew J. Kuehnert, director of the CDC’s office of Blood, Organ and Other Tissue Safety, told ABC News.

Under the new guidelines, which have not been adopted and are in the public comments stage, living and deceased donors who had more than one sexual partner in the past 12 months would be considered “elevated risk” donors because of the increased likelihood they could have HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, even if they did not show any risk factors.

Organ transplant doctors said they are concerned the proposed guidelines will lead to more deaths of the 112,000 people who are currently on the transplant waiting list because they will eat up valuable time and money conducting tests on organs for HIV, and Hepatitis A and C, even though the tests aren’t 100-percent accurate.

“If you game the system to prevent any possible transmission of an infectious disease, you will simply wind up with an increase of deaths,” said Dr. David Cronin, who is an associate professor of surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin and director of liver transplantation at Froedtert Hospital.

The American Society of Transplant Surgeons agreed with Cronin and issued a letter criticizing the new guidelines, decrying the lack of a collaborative process behind the scenes, which caused several of its members to withdraw from an advisory panel.

“[The guidelines have] a real potential to mislead the public regarding the risks of disease transmission through solid organ transplantation,” said the letter, which was directed to CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “These guidelines, if finalized in their current form, are likely to have significant consequences for the transplant community.”

Kuehnert said he “would be concerned about any factor that would deter a donor,” but added that there is education that needs to be done for donors and recipients. If implemented, these guidelines would be just that -- markers to guide the transplant process, and they wouldn’t be policy, he said.

He stressed that certain medical information from donors would be kept anonymous from recipients of their gifts.

“There is no exclusion of organs in any case, unless the organ tests positive for HIV,” which is a federal law, he said.

As of now, there are no specifics regarding how donors would be questioned about their sexual histories, Kuehner said, but it’s an area that Cronin finds deeply concerning.

More than 28,000 organ transplants take place each year, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

The public comment period regarding the proposed guidelines ends Dec. 23.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Diarrhea, Digestive Ills Relieved With Fecal Transplants

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Demonstrating that even in medicine, "one man's trash is another man's treasure," patients with debilitating diarrhea are finding relief, if not cures, after receiving bacteria-rich stool from the guts of healthy donors, usually close relatives.

Despite the gross-out factor, fecal transplants are simple enough to perform at home using such inexpensive tools as a bottle of saline, a two-quart enema kit from the local drugstore and a standard kitchen blender.

The approach, also called fecal bacteriotherapy, is hardly new.  Dr. Ben Eiseman, the longtime chief of surgery at Denver General Hospital, reported in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in 1958 that enemas containing feces from healthy colons successfully replenished good digestive bacteria in patients suffering from pseudomembranous colitis, a painful colon inflammation associated with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile.

Dr. Thomas J. Borody, from the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney, Australia, reported in the same journal in 2003 that "human probiotic infusions" reversed ulcerative colitis in six patients, each of whom had been sick at least five years with the inflammatory condition.  All remained disease-free in one to 13 years of follow-up.

In recent years, the number of chronic infections with C. diff has increased, often from prolonged antibiotic use and growing antibiotic resistance, especially among the elderly and those in hospitals and long-term care facilities.  That has driven renewed interest in fecal transplantation, although it's still not covered by health insurance plans.

North American gastroenterologists and infectious disease experts, mindful that the technique has been used in Europe, have been offering it as last-ditch therapy for patients wasting away from debilitating diarrhea that hasn't responded to even the most powerful and most expensive antibiotics, such as vancomycin.

Doctors infuse patients' colons using an enema or colonoscope (and sometimes the stomach using a nasogastric tube) with solutions of water or saline spiked with donor feces that have been screened for parasites, HIV, hepatitis, and other illness-causing microbes.  They suggest donors should be someone you know and trust, like a spouse, a parent or a child, although a few institutions are experimenting with donations collected from healthy men or women who have been tested and found free of major diseases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

New York Blood Center Seeks Blood Donors after 1,000 Blood Donations Lost from Blizzard

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 1,000 blood donations were lost due to weather-related cancellations prompting the New York Blood Center, which serves more than 20 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey, to request that communities donate blood and platelets.

O-negative and O-positive blood types are needed most, but all blood types are encouraged to donate.

"Mother Nature has delivered a hard slap to our blood supply," NYBC Vice President Rob Purvis.  "And the blizzard came on top of lower-than-needed holiday collections, so we're urging our neighbors to step up."

Eligible blood donors were asked to donate Monday and in the coming days, but should visit the New York Blood Center website before leaving home for information about cancellations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio