Entries in Florida (21)


Awaiting Heart Transplant, Fla. Teen Celebrates Graduation from Hospital

Kelly Haberman(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Taylor Haberman may not have gotten to dance at her high school prom or walk down the stage to accept her diploma at graduation, but thanks to the help of an adolescent palliative care organization, she was still able to celebrate those milestones from the Gainesville, Fla., hospital where she is awaiting a heart transplant.

Through a five-camera stream, the 18-year-old from St. Johns, Fla., accepted her diploma from the principal of Bartram Trail High School in real time and saw her peers graduate on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a live video feed that broadcast the graduation to the hospital's conference room.

Taylor's peers also got a glimpse of their fellow graduate thanks to one of her sisters, who used video calling on her iPad to "walk" Taylor across the stage and once she had graduated, held up the device with Taylor on the other end so the senior class could see her face.

The entire graduating class even wore hearts on their gowns to honor their classmate.

"She was ecstatic. Just like any other senior, she did it," Taylor's mother, Kelly Haberman told ABC News. "While it was nothing like being with your own graduating class, it was the next best thing."

Taylor has been waiting to receive a heart transplant for six months at University of Florida Health Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville. She was born with congenital heart disease, her mother said. While Taylor had several corrective surgeries as a toddler, her condition worsened around the end of her junior year in high school.

"It was coming down to the last straw of what we could actually do for her," Haberman said. "[Being admitted] into the hospital was the last alternative."

Haberman said after months of treatments at home at the start of her senior year, Taylor was admitted to the hospital in January in hopes of getting a heart transplant.

"In order for [Taylor] to be pretty high on the transplant list, she needed to be in-patient," she said. "As far as organ donors, she could wait for years and years if she sat at home."

Haberman said adjusting to hospital life was a difficult transition for her daughter, especially because she realized she would have to miss out on the pivotal events that often characterize a teenager's high school experience.

"You look forward to your senior year, that's when all the fun is," Haberman said. "It was a huge transition for her. She's leaving all her friends, she's missing everything."

But thanks to Streetlight, a non-profit peer support group organization that partners pre-med students with young adults in the hospital, Taylor was able to still enjoy those events, albeit from within the hospital.

"When she couldn't go to the prom, they threw a prom there for her and brought the prom to her," Haberman said. "We were hoping that [her doctors] were going to let her out of the hospital for the day to attend graduation."

But when clearances fell through, Streetlight director Rebecca Brown told ABC News that the organization began to think of ways to help make Taylor's graduation just as meaningful as her prom had been.

"She really wanted the heart before her graduation. We were hopeful it would come in, but it didn't," Brown said. "So we started thinking about how we could do this."

Brown said Taylor told her she wanted her graduation live-streamed into the hospital so she could watch it, as well as accept her diploma virtually.

"Streetlight and Bartram [Trail High School] stepped in and made it all happen yesterday," Haberman said. "I'm blessed that everybody has made it as much of a senior year as possible."

Taylor's family as well as members of the Streetlight team gathered in the hospital's conference room Saturday to watch and participate in her high school graduation, which went off without a hitch.

"We were all there screaming and cheering for her in the room we had set up and decorated for her graduation," Brown said. "We had a really big party after the actual graduation. The room didn't clear out until 7:30 p.m."

As Taylor waits to be taken off the transplant list, her mother said she plans to take online classes to stay busy. She eventually wants to study nursing at the University of Florida in Gainesville, her mother said. For a graduation present, she's asked for a trip to New York City as soon as she's out of the hospital, Haberman said.

"At this point, it's just a waiting game," Haberman said. "We're waiting for that call to come in."

Copyright 2013 ABC NewsRadio


Florida Dentist Office Doubles as a Beauty Spa

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Scary lights, intrusive equipment and high-pitched sounds that make you squirm are what normally come to mind when one thinks of a visit to the dentist’s office.

Not so for the patients of Dr. Patty’s Dental Boutique in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., a dentist office that doubles as a beauty spa.

“There are about 30 to 40 million Americans who suffer from dental anxiety,” Dr. Patty, whose real name is April Patterson, told ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga.  “I wanted to do everything I can to make those clients feel like they are not at the dentist.”

To do that, Patterson created an office that is definitely not your father’s dentist’s office.  Her version features treatments you’d get at your everyday spa -- from facials to massages to eyelash extensions and a brow bar -- along with the typical dental work.

“I offer high-end, quality dental services along with a full menu of spa services,” Patterson said.

“I can give you a great example of how all the services kind of work together,” she said.  “A client is coming in to have their dental veneers done.  They come in an hour early [and] they can have a facial or a massage while their valium takes effect.  They come in to start their dental procedure and they’re nice and relaxed.”

Patterson said her combination dental office and spa is about more than just cosmetics.

“This is not just about teeth,” she said.  “This is also about building confidence and changing lives.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pet Therapy Pig May Get Exception from Coral Springs, Fla.

Ray Family(CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.) -- The city of Coral Springs, Fla., may reconsider its decision not to grant the waiver a local mother sought for her son’s miniature pet therapy pig.

Heather Ray got the tiny Juliana pig named Twinkie for her 8-year-old son, Kason.  She believes the animal helps Kason with the significant emotional problems he deals with as a result of his Down’s syndrome. And since her husband and oldest son suffer from severe allergies, she couldn’t get Kason a dog or other type of animal that would cause a reaction.

Her husband and son are not allergic to Twinkie, Ray said.

The city’s ordinances prohibit the keeping of pigs because they’re considered livestock.  Ray wrote to the city about two months ago to request a variance or an exemption, but the officials said they couldn’t grant her request. She bought the pig anyway, saying she did some homework and found that federal law governing people with disabilities would apply to her son having the therapy pet.

Now, the city may be softening its stance. On Thursday, Ray told that the city had written to ask her for more information in order to re-consider her request.

In a letter dated Nov. 27, 2012, City Attorney John J. Hearn wrote to ask her for medical records relating to her husband’s allergy and whether his allergy was triggered by the pig’s dander.

He also asked her for more documentation from her son’s pediatrician. Ray initially submitted a doctor’s prescription recommending a therapy pet for Kason but, in his Tuesday letter, Hearn asked Ray to submit a more specific prescription.

“To date we have not received a prescription for the pig, but rather a generic prescription for an emotional support animal.  If you have a prescription identifying the pig as an emotional support animal, please provide that documentation,” Hearn wrote. “If you provide the additional information, we will be able to reevaluate the applicability of the ordinance.”

Ray talked with Hearn on Tuesday and said they could arrive at a compromise. She added that he promised her the family would not be fined and that the city would not remove Twinkie from their home.

Ray had not been fined, but the city had made it clear that she could be charged up to $500 per day for keeping Twinkie.

ABC News attempted to reach several Coral Springs officials after hours on Thursday but did not receive a response.

After the city’s initial decision not to grant the Rays an exception, people vented their frustration online, including on the city’s Facebook page.

“What’s wrong with you people? Let this boy have his pig,” user Cari Robinson wrote.

When the city posted on its wall on Nov. 20 to wish its residents “a wonderful holiday season,”  user Kara Whitehead wrote in reply: “Tell that to the boy that you will not allow to have his pet.”

Even though the situation has dragged out for two months, Heather Ray is grateful for the apparent resolution. She plans to deliver the specific prescription to the city on Friday.

“You know, I’m happy,” she said. “I’m thankful that they’re … being sensitive about it. I’m happy that they’re looking at it as what it is and it’s not just a pig as a pet and they’re no longer ignoring me, I guess, ignoring the situation.  I’m happy that they’re willing to work.”

Twinkie is an indoor pet. When she grows into adulthood, she will measure about 12 inches tall and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Asks Women to Spill Their Sex Habits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Florida Department of Health is getting a little too close for comfort for some women in the state.  

The department recently mailed a survey to randomly selected women between the ages of 18 and 24 requesting intimate details about their sex lives.

The 12-page questionnaire, which was sent to about 4,000 women, is intended to help the state get a better grasp of the need for family-planning services in Florida.  But critics say the survey crosses the line.

Among the questions are, “How many sexual partners have you had?” “Has a man ever poked holes in a condom to get you pregnant?” and “Have you ever been raped?”

Paige Waugh, a student at the University of Tampa, told an ABC News affiliate that the survey is “a bit invasive.”  And the women who agree to take the survey, she added, are probably not going to be truthful.

“That’s private information,” Waugh says.  “So they are probably going to get biased results.”

The state says that the survey is completely voluntary and participants will remain anonymous.

There is, however, a small perk for women who agree to take the survey.  A $10 gift card to CVS to use on various health-related items is given to all participants in exchange for the intimate details of their sex lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Teen Survives Spear Through Brain

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- The first images of a Florida teen who survived a spear shot into his head show the key factors that likely saved the teen’s life, his doctors said.

Yasser Lopez, 16, was fishing with a friend at a Miami lake nearly two weeks ago when the spear gun they were using accidentally deployed and hit Lopez in the head, according to Miami-Dade police.

Lopez was rushed by paramedics to the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Hospital where he arrived conscious but with three feet of the spear protruding from his forehead.

“The tip, it didn’t penetrate the skin but you could feel underneath the skin on the back of his head so we knew that it went all the way through,” said Dr. George Garcia, an assistant professor of surgery at the Army Trauma Training Center who treated Lopez.

Doctors credited the paramedics who treated Lopez with saving his life by not immediately pulling the spear out of the teen’s head.

“The temptation if you don’t have experience with these things is, ‘Oh well, pull it out,’” said Dr. Ross Bullock, a neurosurgeon at Jackson Memorial.   “If you do that, most of the time it’s uniformly fatal.”

Paramedics used a re-bar tool and pliers to stabilize the spear and a hydraulic cutter to clip the steel spear so the teen’s head could fit inside a CT scanner.

The X-rays of Lopez’s head showed the spear went all the way through his head at an angle and exited the other side but just missed his eye and dodged all major blood vessels in Lopez’s brain.  It also traveled through the right hemisphere of his brain, less than one inch above the central brain that controls the senses, heart rate and breathing.

“All of these are structures that, if this had happened to affect those, he would not have been likely to have survived to even get to the hospital,” Bullock said.  “If you had to have a spear go through there [the head], then this spear chose the right path to go with the least damage.”

Doctors used the X-rays to plan the complex three-hour surgery in which they removed the spear from Lopez’s head.

Lopez was moved out of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on Monday.  Doctors say he is now sitting up and speaking a few words and that brain scans since his surgery show the spear caused relatively little damage to his brain.

The teen may have some lingering trouble with movement on the left side of his body, doctors say, but he is expected to make an otherwise full recovery.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twins Born to Dead Father Ineligible for Benefits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Twins conceived in Florida from the frozen sperm of their father who died 18 months before their birth are not entitled to survivors benefits, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The twins’ mother, Karen Capato, became pregnant through in vitro fertilization after the death of her husband, Robert Capato, from cancer in 2002. The Social Security Administration rejected her claim for Social Security survivors benefits, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in a 9-0 vote.

“Tragic circumstances gave rise to this case,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote.

But the Social Security Act Congress passed in 1935, she wrote, calls for resolution of Karen Capato’s application for child’s insurance benefits to come under state law. “We cannot replace that reference by creating a uniform federal rule the statute’s text scarcely supports.”

Under Florida law, a child may inherit property from a deceased parent only if the child was conceived during the parent’s lifetime.

Ginsburg’s ruling interprets the Social Security Act, signed 77 years ago, for an era in which sperm and eggs can be frozen and stored indefinitely.

“The technology that made the twins’ conception and birth possible, it is safe to say, was not contemplated by Congress,” she wrote.

The first “test tube baby,” Louise Brown, was born in 1978.

Ginsburg said other states may take a different approach, adding that posthumously conceived children can inherit property in California “if the child is in utero within two years of a parent’s death.”

A bill in the Maryland legislature would allow children born within two years of a biological parent’s death to receive inheritance, as long as the parent consented in writing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


Man Bites Car, Bath Salts to Blame?

Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office(SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla.) -- A Florida man showing signs of being under the influence of bath salts bit the hood of a police cruiser, scraping off the paint and causing nearly $600 in damage while officers attempted to restrain him, local police allege.

According to police reports, 47-year-old Eric Scott of Milton, Fla., had been knocking on neighbors' doors and asking them to call 911, saying he needed medical assistance. When officers from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's office arrived, Scott allegedly began to walk away from them while cursing to himself, before throwing his flash light at a nearby mailbox and screaming "over and over" at the officers to shoot him.

He already had several self inflicted injuries to his hands and blood coming from his nose, police Sgt. Scott Haines told ABC News.

Police allege that as they waited for emergency responders to arrive, Scott, then detained in handcuffs, began to scrape his teeth across the hood of their patrol car, digging through the paint down to the metal. Scott was transported to a local hospital, where he continued to ask police and hospital workers to kill him. Scott was released from the hospital but could still face charges of criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence.

Scott displayed numerous symptoms of using bath salts including, "erratic behavior, confusion, loss of direction, and aggression towards law enforcement," according to police reports.

"We unfortunately have to deal with [suspects on bath salts] pretty frequently and all of his actions were consistent with someone who was on that," Haines told ABC News.

A woman who answered the phone at Scott's residence -- and who could be overheard passing along questions to someone else in the room -- told ABC News Scott claimed he was not on bath salts.

"Just beer and vodka," she said.

Last June, an investigation that aired on ABC News’ 20/20 revealed the dangers of the then-legal bath salts, which have been linked to violent, sometimes deadly outbursts by users.

"They're selling time bombs," Louisiana Poison Control Center Director Dr. Mark Ryan told ABC News during the investigation. "We've had some people show up who are complaining of chest pains so severe that they think they're having a heart attack. They think they're dying... They have extreme paranoia. They're having hallucinations. They see things, they hear things, monsters, demons, aliens."

The synthetic substance, which has since been placed under an emergency ban by the DEA while a bill to permanently ban it awaits a vote by the Senate, has been linked to a number of bizarre episodes over the past year, including a New Orleans woman's arm being devoured by a flesh-eating disease in January and a West Virginia man dressed in women's underwear slaying a goat last May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Senator Wants to Keep Food Stamp Users from Buying Sweets

Hemera/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- In an attempt to cut down on purchases of junk food on the government's dime, Florida Sen. Ronda Storms is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the use of food stamps to purchase sweets.

The Republican lawmaker says she was appalled at watching people in supermarkets use their food stamps to buy soda, candy and other junk foods, and that if they want to buy unhealthy stuff, they should pay with their own money -- how it's done with tobacco and alcohol.

Storms' measure would prohibit all 3.3 million food stamp users in Florida from buying any candy, pre-made cakes, trans fats, Jello, Popsicles, ice cream, popcorn, pretzels, pies, muffins and all sweetened drinks.

Yet, even if the bill passes the Legislature, legal challenges would kill it -- since any changes in the law have to come from Washington because food stamps are federally funded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alleged Butt-Boosting Accomplice Attacked

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Anger over an illegal butt-boosting operation in South Florida spilled over on the set of a popular talk show during a Wednesday night taping.  An angry mother of one victim attacked a man accused of assisting in the buttock-enhancing procedures which allegedly employed Fix-A-Flat tire sealant to enhance a people's curves, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

The man, 40-year-old Corey Eubanks of Hollywood, Fla., allegedly worked with Oneal Ron Morris, who lives as a woman and is also known as the Duchess.  Police arrested Morris in November of last year on charges that Morris posed as a doctor, injecting a combination of super glue, Fix-a-Flat and other substances into the buttocks of an unidentified Florida woman, sending her to the hospital.  Shortly after the report surfaced, dozens more alleged victims came forward. Morris has pleaded not guilty.

Eubanks, who is charged with acting as Morris’ accomplice in the procedures and is out on bail, told the Herald that he appeared on the Doral-based Spanish-language television show hosted by Cristina Saralegui to clear his name. During the segment, a syringe that was to be used for demonstration purposes rested on a table on the set.

“I was sitting there talking to Cristina when the mother jumped out of the audience, came and grabbed the syringe and throwed it [sic], and it hit me in my forehead,” Eubanks told Miami CBS affiliate WFOR-TV.  “I wanted to scream loud as I could.”

According to the Herald report, the woman is the mother of Shaquanda Brown of North Miami, who also appeared on the talk show as one of Morris’ alleged victims. An inquiry left with the City of Doral Police Department as to whether charges had been filed in the incident was not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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