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Saturday
Jul132019

After losing husband to rare neurological disease, a widow tries to raise awareness

Debbie Feldman(AVON, Conn.) -- Debbie Feldman lived the American dream for most of her adult years -- she married her best friend (a prominent attorney), succeeded in her career working as an accountant and raised their two sons in the highly desirable suburban town of Avon, Connecticut.

For nearly two decades, the happy family-of-four thrived in their loving home. But in 2004, things unfortunately took a drastic turn when Sam, Feldman's husband, was unexpectedly diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP): an uncommon, degenerative brain disease that has similar symptoms to Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Over the course of three years, Sam was quickly afflicted by the crippling symptoms of the disease. PSP affected his gait, often causing him to take painful tumbles in various locations. Sam's vision also declined and swallowing became a challenge, among other paralyzing symptoms.

His body began to succumb to the neurological disease, though ironically, his thoughts remained sharp as a tack, even up until his final days. Sam's wit was fierce and his laughter became infectious -- a memory the family cherishes dearly to this day.

He passed away at the young age of 52 in June 2007.

“At the end of my husband’s life, while he was in hospice, I realized that life became simple,” Feldman told ABC News. “It wasn’t about our possessions, but rather, our connections. I love and miss him dearly and cannot quantify my love for him.”

In wake of her husband's passing, Feldman yearned for a creative outlet to memorialize his legacy as well as her father, who died after a battle with multiple sclerosis (MS). After much consideration, she channeled her entrepreneurial prowess and developed a keepsake jewelry collection, called Linked, in an effort to bring comfort to customers who could empathize with Sam's story. She began planning for the business in 2012 and started selling wholesale in 2015.

Each charm in the collection is coined with a phrase -- such as "Be Brave," "Can't Measure Love" and "Let the Light Shine Through" -- that reflects on a memory Feldman shared with her husband.

“I created this line of jewelry to give words to the person who has trouble expressing themselves,” Feldman said. “Each piece of jewelry is linked to a personal sentiment. I want the jewelry to connect people with heartfelt emotions.”

In an effort to help raise funding for research, 10% of the proceeds from Linked's pendants and bracelets can be earmarked either for the fight against PSP or MS. Funds are given to psp.org or nationalmssociety.org.

Feldman continues to devote her life to raising awareness about the disease.

What is PSP?

PSP, also called Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, is a neurological disease that results from deterioration of cells in areas of your brain that control body movement and thinking. The disease, which worsens over time, affects the majority of one's senses and overall well-being.

Statistics show about three to six in every 100,000 people worldwide have the disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

At this time, there is no effective treatment for PSP. The most common cause of death is pneumonia.

Researchers, however, are continuing to investigate why brain cells degenerate in those who suffer from the disease, according to Dr. Jeff Bronstein.

"I think it's really encouraging that we are getting more and more of an understanding of PSP," Bronstein told ABC News. "It really makes the studies a lot easier to do. They're more readily available and are multi-center studies. We are getting closer."

What are the symptoms of PSP?

Symptoms can vary between patients who are diagnosed with PSP.

Typically, a person suffers from loss of balance, blurred vision, uncontrolled eye movements, unexplained falls, stiffness, slurred speech and has difficulty swallowing solid foods and liquids, according to Bronstein. Changes in mood and behavior -- such as irritability, forgetfulness and outbursts -- may also appear. Additional symptoms include depression, urinary problems and constipation.

PSP can often times be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease because it shares many of the same symptoms. Problems with eye movement, behavior changes and memory loss are all key identifiers that help a physician or neurologist diagnose the disease, according to Bronstein.

"It can be very hard to make the diagnosis very early on for that reason," Bronstein said. "There is no blood test. We treat the symptoms specifically. Since the disease is very variable, you need to kind of customize therapy for each person having the problems."

Medication usually helps to mask symptoms, but it does not actually change the disease progression, according to Bronstein. Patients are predisposed to head injuries, fractures, choking and pneumonia.

Non-pharmacologic methods can also help remedy discomfort. Walking aids and devices such as chair lifts, can help to reduce the chance of patients falling backwards, according to Bronstein. Bifocals or prescribed glasses, called prisms, can help fix problems with looking down. Physical therapy may help with stiffness by keeping joints limber and occupational therapists have utensils that can help people feed themselves as swallowing becomes more difficult.

How long can you live with PSP?

PSP is a progressive, degenerative disease, so prognosis varies for each patient.

It is possible for a person diagnosed with PSP to live six to eight years after the first symptoms of the disease appear, according to Bronstein.

Onset of PSP is usually seen around the age of 60, but could occur earlier in one's lifespan, according to NINDS. The disease typically effects men more than women.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jul122019

Migrant children in detention facilities could face long-term health struggles: Pediatrician

Saul Schwarz/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Migrant children living in U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities will likely face long-term physical and mental health challenges, a top pediatrician told ABC News.

Sally Goza, the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said detained children face unique stress levels.

“That kind of stress makes children be on high alert, red alert, where their brain can’t do the things that are really the work of childhood, which is learning and playing,” Goza said on ABC News’ “The Debrief.”

These children could face prolonged “toxic stress,” which can cause life-long depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, developmental issues and behavioral problems, Goza said.

Goza, like delegations of Congressional lawmakers and groups of lawyers and doctors, recently visited children at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas and the Donna Temporary Holding Facility in Donna, Texas.

The CBP facilities smelled like “a mixture of sweat, urine and feces” and were mostly silent, besides the sound of rustling mylar blankets.

“The children’s eyes were just bloodshot," Goza said. "They obviously were not getting much rest. And they were bug-eyed. That fear of what’s going to happen next, what’s happening to me?”

Goza does not advocate for children being held in border detention centers, but said they “need to be able to be taken care of by a pediatrician or a pediatric-trained provider.”


Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jul122019

Teen shark attack victim opens up about 'healing' after losing a leg 

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The North Carolina teen who was bit by a shark earlier this summer is now out of the hospital after losing her leg and two fingers, but maintaining a positive attitude, saying "I'm not forgetting my other responsibilities and hopes and dreams and all that."

Paige Winter, 17, was attacked while swimming in waist-deep waters off the coast of North Carolina on June 2. She lost two fingers and her left leg was amputated.

She has been undergoing several types of aggressive physical therapy every day, including mirror therapy, which she told ABC News' Good Morning America is to help "reduce phantom pain in my leg."

Her physical therapists have told GMA that she is doing phenomenally well, though Winter says she's "a little nervous about my hands and the therapy I have to do with them."

"It's going to be pretty rigorous," she added, saying that she has been told she should have 95% function in her right one, but "I don't know how much" in her left.

Despite the injuries she sustained during the harrowing shark attack, Winter's positive attitude has inspired many.

"When I was in the water, I did not see my life pass before my eyes," she said. "I saw my future flash before my eyes, and all the things I wanted to do, and that’s why I got out of there."

Her attitude after the shark bite and efforts to bring awareness to marine conservation even caught the eye of Ironman actor Robert Downey Jr., who sent her a special message inviting her to be a part of his new sustainability initiative.

Winter says they are in regular contact now.

"He said we are going to check in every so often and talk about what we're going to do because I can tell he’s all for this," she said. "He is all for helping the ocean."

Winter says she has received hundreds of cards and a gifts and bowls of candy from well-wishers.

When she left Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, last week, there was even a small party celebrating her recovery.

Her father, Charlie Winter, admits that there are still some tough times as she works towards her recovery.

"It's not so much a bad day she has ... bad moments," he said. "She has moments when she's overwhelmed ... but she's got a really amazing uncanny ability to pick herself up."

The teen said she is also working to not forget her goals as she works towards a physical recovery.

"The main focus right now is my therapy and my healing," she said. "I'm not forgetting my other responsibilities and hopes and dreams and all that."

"I cannot change that I don’t have a leg, I can’t change that I cannot use my hands right now," she said. "I can control what happens in the future, I can do that and that’s what I want to do."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jul122019

Study: Cutting only 300 calories a day can cut your risk of diabetes, heart disease

AndreyPopov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- It’s no secret -- watching what you eat can help keep your heart healthy.

But new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has reached a surprising conclusion: even those of us with a healthy weight might benefit from cutting out a relatively small number calories from our daily diet.

“We wanted to investigate the effect of calorie restriction on disease markers in healthy, young humans,” Dr. William Kraus, preventative cardiologist and lead author of the study, told ABC News. “We found that a small calorie reduction -- around 300 -- appears to be beneficial to the heart.”

Researchers studied two groups of healthy people, all under 50 years old, over a period of two years. One group of 71 people continued a normal, unrestricted diet. The other group of 188 people underwent calorie restriction. In the beginning, the second group was asked to cut 25% of their daily calories.

“We didn’t alter the proportion of carbohydrate, fat or protein -- we just reduced the calorie content,” Kraus told ABC News. This was done by teaching study participants the essentials of calorie restriction, such as calorie counting and portion size.

People were asked to maintain the diet over two years, but the average person in the calorie restricted group managed to cut down only 12% of their calories, equivalent to roughly 300 calories per day.

That’s a modest decrease -- just a fraction of the 1,600 to 2,400 recommended daily calories for women, and 2,000 to 3,000 recommended calories for men.

Three hundred calories is equivalent to a slice of apple pie, 30 potato chips or “cutting out a snack after dinner,” Kraus told ABC News.

Even with this limited reduction, there were striking benefits: people lost over 11 pounds of fat and had reduced levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), increased levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and lower blood pressure. They were also more sensitive to insulin, a key blood sugar hormone, potentially reducing the risk of diabetes.

“Clearly what surprised us was the magnitude of response in people that already have normal parameters, are young and have a normal weight,” Kraus told ABC News.

Researchers found that even in young, healthy adults, a moderate calorie restriction can improve cardiovascular risk factors with a potential long-term benefit for heart health.

The next step is exploring why the benefit is so big.

“We expected some improvement in their biological parameters because they were losing weight,” Kraus said to ABC News, “but the weight loss only explained 25% of the improvement.”

Dr. Kraus has some theories about where the remaining 75% comes from.

“The effects of calorie restriction on DNA methylation is something we want to study in the future,” Kraus said. Methylation is a type of chemical modification made to DNA in response to environmental changes -- including nutrition -- which alters how genes are expressed.

Dr. Frank Hu a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, called the study “groundbreaking in several respects,” but remained cautious.

“One practical challenge of translating calorie restriction is reliably counting daily calories and establishing optimal levels of calorie restriction,” said Hu.

He added that calorie counting alone is “unlikely to curb the global obesity epidemic.”

“Creating a healthy food environment and changing social norms…can make it easier for individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight,” Hu said.

Nevertheless, inexpensive and effective methods like calorie restriction could be invaluable in addressing some of issues surrounding the obesity epidemic.

The bottom line according to Kraus: when it comes to cutting down on calories, “anything is better than nothing.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jul122019

Hilary Duff mom-shamed for baby having pierced ears: Here's what parents should know

ArtShotPhoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A seemingly innocent moment Hilary Duff thought she was sharing with fans has ignited unexpected controversy on Instagram.

The actress-singer recently posted a photo of herself holding her 8-month-old daughter, Banks, who appeared to have ears pierced.

Duff's prior posts show the child earring-free, which could be what caused the so-called mommy shaming against the mother of two.

"We usually recommend the youngest being 3 months due to risk of infection from a process like piercing," Dr. Julie Capiola, a pediatrician with Premier Pediatrics in New York, tells ABC News' Good Morning America. "It's a cultural or personal choice to whether or not parents want to pierce [their] child's ears."

Some Instagram users gave Duff flack for her daughter's studs, while most fans came to her defense.

"They pierced my ears 2 days after I was born," one follower said.

"[Cause] you were not given a choice," another replied. "It is dangerous [especially] when they get to toddler age and could pull [the] earring off and swallow it."

"Can we maybe NOT permanently scar babies for no reason other than accessorizing them?" someone commented. "That would be great."

A fan chimed in with a different approach: "We love you Hilary, you’re doing amazing sweetie, please don’t let these internet trolls ruin your day."

"Keep being the fabulous mother u are!" another said.

Many people commented how they had their ears pierced as a newborn, but Capiola advises against it, adding how there's a lower risk for infection after the appropriate vaccinations have been given to a child. Plus, the child's immune system is stronger at 3 month old and after, Capiola said.

Capiola says as long as they're 3 months or older, ear piercing is OK for kids.

Here are safety guidelines and more:

A sterile environment is advised

Capiola says a pediatrician's office will be a safe, sterile environment -- should they perform piercings. If you choose a jewelry store, make sure it is reputable and safe.

Choose an appropriate metal

Capiola said sterling silver or 14-karat gold metals are nickel-free, which could cause an allergic reaction. Medical plastics are also an alternative, she says.

Use a screw back

If parents are fearful of earrings being a potential choking hazard, screw backs may be the wiser choice.

Will my child feel any pain?

There are nerve endings in the ear, so baby is likely to feel some pain.

"It's usually brief," Capiola said.

Watch for signs for infection

Redness, swelling, fluid drainage or warmth on the ear are all signs of infection. If your child appears to be in pain, or has a fever (pain being a later sign of infection), call your physician.

Avoiding infection

The American Academy of Pediatrics says rubbing alcohol could minimize the chance of infections. Do not remove the earring for four-to-six weeks and gently rotate each day, the AAP states.

"Follow the advice of the piercer or doctor for cleaning techniques," added Capiola

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jul122019

Mom who investigates drownings posts viral plea to parents on water safety

Courtesy Natalie Livingston(NEW YORK) -- A mother who investigates drownings is raising awareness with her viral tips on water safety.

Natalie Livingston, vice president of Oostman Aquatic Safety Consulting (OoASC) in California, posted her expert knowledge on Facebook, where it has been shared 33,000 times.

People commented by the thousands, thanking Livingston for her clever advice.

"I see moms and users hungry for actionable information," Livingston told ABC News' Good Morning America. "If the parents were educated and the kids were educated, we'd have a way safer environment all around."

Livingston spent 25 years as a lifeguard and worked as the general manager of a water park for 10 years. She trains lifeguards, consults in both private and public operations, and is hired as an expert witness in drowning cases.

Here is Livingston's post in full, reprinted with her permission:

10 Water Safety Tips: From a Mom Who Investigates Drownings

I investigate drownings. I understand the realities of what can happen, often so quickly and quietly.

I read a lot about water safety and tips telling parents [to pay] attention to their children and not being distracted, which is so important. We see so many news articles about drowning during this time of year, but a lot of the advice isn’t practical and just highlights the problems, so I decided to write my own list of tips to help. Here is a list of 10 random things I do to keep my own kids safe in the water.

1. Safety Briefings


This actually started with a swim lesson procedure of making sure they always asked permission before entering the water. I have expanded it by having a little meeting about expectations. My kids now know to wait (sometimes impatiently continually asking me “Mom, what do we need to know…can we go yet?!?!?”) until I give my briefing.

I outline where they can swim, jump in, how they can jump in, and anything else safety related. A great time to do this is while applying sunscreen. They also know the consequences if they don’t follow the safety rules.

These meetings are a way for me to teach my kids respect for the water. They obviously know it is dangerous, knowing what I do for work, but sometimes aquatic centers, waterparks, beaches, and pools look so fun and enticing, that it is easy to forget.

I think as parents we need to be just as concerned with the safety as we are with the fun, but that takes effort. I think some people may not want to ruin the fun by adding in rules, but I know rules create boundaries, which gives freedom in safety. I also love including my children in the safety briefings. What do they think the rules should be? What do they see as dangerous? They have some amazing insights too and sometimes see things I didn’t think of right away!

2. Depths of Water vs. Height

My kids know depths of water and how to read them on the pool deck, and they know what it means related to their height.

My 6 year old knows that 4 ft of water is over his head, and 3 1/2 ft of water is up to his eyes, which is still over his airway. My 8-year-old daughter knows that 4ft of water is at her eyes and she will need to tread and can’t have her airway out at this depth. This piece of knowledge helps them to make good decisions and helps them to understand how water depths are different for each person. Their taller friend may have no problem in the 4ft area, while they would need to tread or have trouble touching.

Awareness of depth in relation to their body is important. This keeps me away from the “But mom, Jayden gets to go over there…”. Yes, he does, he is also 6” taller than you are buddy!

3. How to Get Away

I jumped in last weekend fully clothed with my phone in my hand at my 8-year-old daughter’s all-star softball hotel swim session after a tournament. It was instinct, a 5-year-old boy panicked and grabbed onto a 4-year-old girl and they were both struggling. He was holding her down and trying to keep himself above the water.

In I went and scooped both of them out. They were both naturally scared, and a little burping of water/air, but they were fine. We see this all the time in drowning events, swimmers who are okay on their own, have someone grab onto them because they are struggling and they can’t get away.

 I have taught, and I am still teaching my kids how to get away if someone grabs onto them. My daughter is a great swimmer, but I still don’t think she can tread water and keep her and another kid above the waterline.

I’ve taught them to suck, duck, tuck: Suck in air if you can (get a breath), duck under the water (the struggling person doesn’t want to go there), and tuck (use your arms and legs to push away) -- and then yell for an adult immediately to help the other person.

I’ve also taught them to be very careful of who they touch/grab onto in a pool. Even adults can be weaker swimmers and may have a hard time with them hanging on. Personal space is key.

4. Distraction Reminders

I ask my kids to keep me accountable. They know either myself or my husband should be watching them at all times. We have told them that if we aren’t watching them, they need to get our attention and help us because as humans we get distracted naturally.

I try to stay involved in their activity and also tried to keep my phone away, but I was still distracted with other kids, food, talking, you name it…life is full of distractions. I changed my tactic and downloaded a reminder app, and I set reminders for every minute.

I turn my phone into airplane mode and then use the app. Every minute it alerts me and I have the notification say “Kids Breathing”, so I confirm my kids are ok and then clear the notification.

Obviously, my goal is constant supervision, but sometimes my brain starts to wander to something I am thinking about and the notification checks me back in.

There are tons of campaigns about designating a “water watcher” with a specific tag indicating you have the responsibility of watching the water. I think these are great tools, and we also need to make sure the water watcher is not distracted.

Alerts can keep you focused as long as you stay off your phone for all other purposes. I put my phone in airplane mode, but you can still have the tendency to look at.

Be aware of your distractions both internal and external. If the phone is a distraction all together, maybe alerts aren’t for you.

Find what works to keep you focused and stick with it for the entire swim time.

5. Designate Breaks

We swim for a designated time, usually 30 minutes, but it varies depending on where we are and the activity taking place. Regardless, we always have breaks. I need these breaks more than my kids. They would swim endlessly for hours if I let them, but they need to rest and so do I.

As a lifeguard, we would rotate every 20-30 minutes with the premise being to give our minds a break and so we could stay fresh.

The same thing applies to parental supervision. I need to use the restroom, I need to do other things, I need a break too! So, we give time warnings and take swim breaks.

Sometimes the breaks are also unscheduled, if I have to make an emergency restroom visit or answer the door, everyone gets out, every time!

6. Limited Trust

This may sound harsh, but I don’t trust other people to watch my kids in the pool. It is me or my husband, that is it.

If they are swimming at Grandma’s they have to wear a lifejacket. If they are going in the water at the beach on a board with their cousin, they have to wear a lifejacket.

I see so many events where trust was placed in another person, watch my kids while I go do XYZ, or grandpa took them to the pool, or a neighbor invited them over. I may love these people, and they may love my children, but I don’t trust them, nor do I want them to have to own that responsibility if something were to happen to one of my kids in their care. It just isn’t worth it.

Do my kids whine, yep. Do I care, nope! They know the other option is they just don’t go. Same goes for school pool parties and camps with water activities, it just isn’t worth it for me.

Same goes for lifeguarded swimming areas. I know I am my kids' primary source of supervision and the lifeguard(s) are there for back up and emergencies. I do not rely on them for basic supervision.

I only have two children and I can supervise them much more closely than a lifeguard who has divided attention between 25 or more people.

7. Life Jackets are Cool

Culturally we seem to have a negative attitude towards lifejackets. I don’t think there is anything wrong with lifejackets, in fact, there are so many games and activities you can do with them. We just need to make them cool again.

If there are a bunch of kids I’m watching, I’d rather have everyone be in a lifejacket. It can be a cousin lifejacket pool party. Having everyone in one makes it much “cooler” and doesn’t embarrass the littler kids or weaker swimmers.

When I ran camps, even the counselors would wear them, be cool like them! Having rolling log challenges in the life jackets, water balloon tossing contests, have relays to pass rings from your toes...the games are endless, and the safety is higher with everyone in a life jacket. Now there are times that my kids will even say they would rather just be in a life jacket. Awesome.

 **Just an added side note that when referring to “life jacket” I am referring to a USCG approved life jacket (check the inside of the jacket or vest). Noodles, Inflatables, baby circles, tubes, and all other items are not safety related and should not be used or trusted to keep your child safe.

We see countless videos of kids who flip over in an inflatable ring and can't right themselves and are stuck underwater upside down, or are in arm floaties and can’t get their head out of the water because their arms aren’t strong enough, or who lose purchase of a kickboard they were holding onto for floatation.

Even in a lifejacket, you need to diligently and constantly supervise as children can get in positions that can still obstruct their airway especially if they are younger or weaker.

8. Educate

My kids know what drowning can look like. They know water is dangerous. They know good swimmers can drown. They know medical events can happen without warning. They know that drowning can happen quickly.

I talk about how events happen, about what their weaknesses are.

They know they can’t breathe in the water, they know why we take breaks from swimming, they know why they enter the water feet first, they know why we don’t play breath-holding games or activities. It isn’t just because I said so, I try to give them real reasons to my rules.

A healthy fear of the water is a good thing.

9. Hey, Watch This…

Phrases like “Hey, watch this…” usually are the beginning of something dangerous or a little crazy about to take place.

This is a kid's way of announcing they are pushing the boundaries or are going to show-off, and I take these phrases as a time to talk about danger and pushing boundaries. Are they just showing me something or are they about to do something risky? There is a difference and I try to talk about good decisions around the water.

Phrases like “Hey, watch this…” are ways to cue into other people’s behaviors and intentions. They now alert me when others use these types of phrases too. I always say we can have fun without being dumb.

10. See Something, Say Something

My kids are part of my safety team. They are buddy watchers for each other and I ask them to look out for other kids.

I’ll often ask my son where his sister is, or what the other person is doing. I want to train them to look at others and make sure they are okay, to know what they are doing.

My daughter the other day said, “Mom, I almost called you…that boy was under the water and I counted from 5…5, 4, 3, 2, 1 but he popped up again before I got to 2.”

I asked her, "What would you do if he was still underwater when you got to one?" and she said, “I’d say something to you or an adult until you responded.” Perfect.

Kids are an additional layer of protection and they have good instincts.

My kids know not to assume someone is playing. If they see someone underwater, they start counting.

So often, in drowning investigations we see kids (and adults) swimming over or around someone who is underwater and they don’t do anything. They assume they are okay, they assume they are playing, they assume they are doing it on purpose. Don’t assume.

Teach them the 5-second rule (check out Mel Robbins' book on the topic) and if they see something [teach them] to say something.

Other Water Safety Tips:

  • Swim Lessons Save Lives
  • Learn CPR -- Drowning patients need oxygen -- give air first!
  • USCG approved lifejackets only -- no arm floaties or inflatables
  • Designate A Water Watcher / Swim with a Lifeguard
  • Always use pool barriers and layers of protection
  • Enter the water feet first
  • No running
  • Stay hydrated / protect yourself from the sun
  • No drugs / alcohol
  • All water is dangerous -- even inches
  • Always swim with a buddy
  • Lost / Missing kids -- always check the water first

I hope this helps and gives you some practical tips to improving safety during your water-related activities. Share this information to hopefully prevent any more drownings.

Stay safe and vigilant!


Like Livingston addresses in her post, a water watcher is a helpful solution for keeping children safe. An appropriate water watcher, according to Water Safety USA, is at least 16 years of age, but adults are preferred. That person must have the skills, knowledge and ability to save a person in distress, or can immediately alert someone who has those capabilities.

More tips for designating a water watcher from Water Safety USA:

  • The water watcher should be rotated every 15 minutes, with a new person taking on the job to avoid losing focus
  • Knows CPR or can immediately alert someone nearby with that skill
  • Has a working phone to be able to dial 9-1-1
  • Has a floating and/or reaching object that can be used in a rescue
  • Is alert and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol

For more safety tips, you can follow Livingston's Facebook page, Aquatic Safety Connection.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jul112019

Nearly 120 people in Minnesota reportedly became sick after boating on July 4th weekend

studiodr/iStock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- July 4th weekend often brings an influx of people to large lakes across the U.S., but celebrations took a turn for some people who went to Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

An investigation was launched by the Hennepin County Public Health Department after nearly 120 visitors reported getting sick.

The department received 116 calls from lake visitors experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea, according to Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, a regional government agency.

“It is unfortunate that some people that recreated on the lake over the 4th of July holiday reported becoming ill,” the organization said in a statement. “We want everyone to be safe and healthy while enjoying the lake, which is why certain regulations and measures are in place.“

The public health department has since sent water samples to a lab for testing and is still awaiting the results.

A majority of people who reported getting sick were celebrated near an area of the lake called the "Big Island," according to Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

Beaches are only closed when high levels of concerning pathogens or contaminants are found, according to the Hennepin County Public Health Department. A small number of beaches are currently closed on the lake.

“There is no reason to believe the lake cannot be used,” the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District said in a statement. “Further, it is unlikely that if a pathogen was introduced and existed at the time, that it would still be present due to natural destruction and dilution.”

The Big Island area of Lake Minnetonka is not a beach and therefore is not an area where the public health department performs a routinely test, according to the agency.

One man who visited the lake during the holiday weekend said he received his test medical results back, and was negative for E. Coli and norovirus, according to ABC affiliate KSTP.

“The definitive source of the illness has not been identified at this time,” Hennepin County Public Health epidemiology manager, Dave Johnson, told ABC News.

“We have been interviewing ill persons to evaluate all potential exposures, including water exposure and foods that were consumed...We have been asking people who are reporting illness to submit stool samples so we can determine the pathogen responsible.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jul112019

Win for pregnant women! Moms ask city to issue 'Baby on Board' buttons to remind subway riders to offer their seats

Courtesy Megan Nufer(CHICAGO) -- Moms who have had enough of being forced to stand on the subway while pregnant instead of being offered a seat have inspired a new campaign that could transform transportation for pregnant women in Chicago.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) confirmed to ABC News that it is planning a campaign that will be "specifically targeted" toward pregnant riders and will include "buttons that pregnant riders can wear" to let other riders know they need a seat.

Details of the campaign, including the launch date, distribution and button messaging and design are still being finalized, according to the CTA.

Megan Nufer, who gave birth to her daughter in May, said the promised campaign for Chicago's rapid transit system, called the L by locals, cannot come soon enough.

"There are a lot of working moms who commute daily and I think they should have the right to get into work and come home from work with the appropriate accommodations," she said. "I think some women try to do it all and sometimes you don’t want to make excuses, but you’re bringing a human into the world."

"You want [being offered a seat] to just be the default thing that happens," she added.

Nufer, whose daily commute consists of both a bus and the subway, reached out to the CTA in March with the idea to implement in Chicago what is commonplace in London, "Baby on Board" buttons for pregnant riders.

"My coworker, who is from London, one day was like, 'This is so silly. If you were in the U.K.you’d have a badge and people wouldn't even think twice,'" Nufer recalled. "I went on LinkedIn and found a mutual connection with someone who works for the CTA and reached out."

Nufer said the CTA replied not long after telling her to "stay tuned." Her request was not the first one for "Baby on Board" buttons on the L.

Erin Fowler, 38, now a mom of two, spoke about the idea six years ago at a CTA board meeting.

She spoke one month after giving birth to her first son and came up with the idea after a trip to London where she saw the “Baby on Board” buttons used there.

"I was motivated by my frustration, principally," she said. "[A button] removes the awkwardness of someone having to wonder if a woman is pregnant because women are not visibly pregnant for the duration of their pregnancy."

The "Baby on Board" badges in London have been around for years, worn by pregnant women riding the Tube to ensure they are given a seat.

They were put in the spotlight when Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore one in 2013 while visiting the Tube to celebrate the subway system's 150 years of service. Kate, now a mom of three, was pregnant at the time with her first child, Prince George.

New York City also tried a pilot program with "Baby on Board" buttons in 2017, offering customers who are pregnant or have disabilities the option of a “Baby on Board” button or a “Please Offer Me a Seat” button.

"I’m hoping Chicago can be a role model and get it rolled out to the rest of the country," said Nufer. "It’s a simple thing that doesn’t cost much money."

Fowler added that she's not sure why Chicago has yet to implement a button program, but she looks forward to the day when she sees fellow female commuters wearing "Baby on Board" buttons on the L.

"I hope it happens, that it works and that future pregnant women will be a bit more comfortable than I was," she said. "It's a small thing and it certainly won't hurt to try."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jul112019

Girl who beat rare bone marrow disorder now fighting cancer

Hallies Heroes/Facebook(NEW YORK) -- A girl who beat a rare bone marrow disorder is now facing bone cancer.

Hallie Beatrice Barnard, known to loved ones as Hallie Bea, hasn't lost her sparkle as she continues fighting for her life. She loves crafting, unicorns, sequins and the musical pop artist, P!nk.

The 11-year-old has continued to work with her non-profit, "Hallie's Heroes," battling osteoscarcoma. The diagnosis came just five months after she beat a rare bone marrow disorder she's had since birth.

Hallie Bea was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) -- an extremely rare marrow failure disorder in which the bone marrow doesn't make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. The only cure for DBA is a bone marrow transplant.

"I felt like we kind of started all over again," mom Elyse Barnard of Denton, Texas, told ABC News' Good Morning America of the March 9 cancer diagnosis.

"It was worse than her initial diagnosis when she was 15 months old, when she had DBA and there was so much and I couldn't fight anymore. Hallie's been a champ through all of this. She said, 'I feel like God gave me cancer because there's other kids I've got to help,'" Barnard said.

Last summer, the Barnards learned Hallie Bea had a bone marrow match and would undergo a transplant.

Hallie Bea underwent intense chemotherapy, received the transplant in Fall 2018 and recovered. She was home for Christmas.

In January, Hallie Bea was having trouble walking. In March, a lump appeared in her left leg.

X-rays revealed a tumor, which led her back to chemo. The new diagnosis was osteosarcoma -- a type of cancer that produces immature bone.

Patients with DBA have a higher risk of cancer, and there is an unexpectedly high incidence of osteosarcoma, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

There is no defined explanation for the high incidence of osteosarcoma in DBA patients, according to the NLM.

On July 1, Hallie Bea had her left leg amputated. Doctors told her if she didn't amputate, she risked breaking a bone whenever she engaged in fun activities, like jumping on a trampoline.

"She told them, 'Just cut it off,'" Barnard recalled of her daughter's reaction. "There's a part of her that grieves, but she took it better than anybody -- when they told her about the cancer, and about amputating."

Bernard said that after Hallie Bea's cancer diagnosis, the charity mission of "Hallie's Heroes" expanded.

The organization partners with a nonprofit, DKMS, to recruit bone marrow donors and raise money for research. Since 2015, Hallie Bea and her family have held drives where they encourages others to get swabbed and join the bone marrow donor registry.

"We've swabbed over 7,000 people and found over 100 matches for 100 families," Bernard said.

Hallie Bea has given speeches to crowds of over 5,000 encouraging listeners to join the registry. In addition, Hallie's Heroes is now dedicated to helping alleviated medical debt for other families of children with cancer.

"We see the St. Jude's commercial, we see sick kids and we look away," Barnard said. "We need to do more for our children and our future. We need our children to be seen."

Barnard said Hallie Bea and her family are empowered by their work through their nonprofit.

Hallie Bea wants to be a nurse in the bone marrow transplant unit when she grows up.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jul102019

Couple sues saying fertility center error led to painful and costly cross-country fight for infant son 

abezikus/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- A couple in California is suing a fertility center in Los Angeles after they say they were forced to go to court to get custody of their baby from a woman across the country who had given birth to him unwittingly as a result of the facility's error.

Anni and Ashot Manukyan of Glendale claim that they were one of three couples to have their embryos allegedly swapped at CHA Fertility Center, according to their lawyer Adam Wolf.

"Due to the extreme misconduct of CHA Fertility Center, the number of things that went wrong here is just plain staggering," Wolf said on Wednesday announcing the lawsuit. "This case is one of the most egregious I have ever seen. It is clearly one of the worst fertility-center tragedies in U.S. history."

A couple in New York recently filed a federal lawsuit against CHA, claiming they'd given birth to twins that were not biologically theirs.

The couple said they spent more than $100,000 on treatment and other expenses at CHA Fertility Center, according to a lawsuit.

Identified in court papers only as Y.Z. and A.P., the couple said they were shocked in March 2019 when they gave birth and realized that the children weren’t of Asian descent, as they are. DNA testing eventually proved that the twins, both boys, weren’t related to them or each other, the lawsuit said. The twins actually belonged to two other couples who were also clients of the hospital.

Y.Z. and A.P., who married in 2012, said they were required to give up custody, “thus suffering the loss of two children,” according to the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the Manukyans came forward with Wolf as the parents of one of the boys born to Y.Z. and A.P. in New York. In court papers, the Manukyans said they'd turned to CHA Fertility after researching and deciding to try in vitro fertilization to build their family.

The Manukyans, who were married in 2007, said that in March 2011, an embryo transfer had resulted in the birth of their daughter. In August 2018, the couple decided to try for another baby with three remaining embryos. They said two embryos were supposed to be used and the third was discarded.

However, according to their court filing, neither embryo was transferred to Anni Manukyan's uterus. The couple said that CHA allegedly implanted another couple's embryo in her womb. That transfer, however, did not result in a pregnancy, according to the couple's lawsuit.

"Anni and Ashot do not know whose embryos were actually transferred to Anni on that day. On information and belief, Defendants also do not know whose embryos they transferred to Anni," court papers said.

The couple said they believe that in August 2018, however, at least one of Anni Manukyan's embryos was implanted in the New York woman, resulting in the birth of their son.

"We live with the uncertainty that another embryo of ours may be born to someone else," Anni Manukyan said.

According to the couple, in the spring of 2019, CHA reached out to them for a "supposedly routine cheek swab test."

"CHA wanted to obtain their DNA -- under false pretenses -- so that CHA could determine covertly whether a child, born on March 11, 2019 to a New York couple as one of two twins, might actually be Anni's and Ashot's child," said a news release posted to their lawyer's website. "Weeks later, Anni and Ashot learned that they had a son, but CHA refused to provide any further information regarding the identity of the New York couple or the whereabouts of their son. During those weeks of uncertainty, Anni and Ashot did not know if they would ever be able to meet their child."

The couple said the baby was almost 2 weeks old when they learned of him.

"CHA robbed me of my ability to carry my own child, my baby boy, to be with him in the first couple of, you know, moments of his life, to nurse him, to just do like skin-on-skin contact to just, you know, be a mom to him," Anni Manukyan said Wednesday.

The couple said they hired lawyers and flew to New York, where they say they learned that Y.Z. and A.P. wanted to keep both babies. According to the lawsuit, after an "expensive" legal battle that took more than a month, a judge granted them custody of the child and the Manukyans were able to return to California in May with their baby.

Anni Manukyan described meeting her child, named Alec, for the first time in the lobby of a hotel as "heartbreaking."

"It’s indescribable ya know. I mean. It’s so many emotions running through my head like happiness, sadness, that that was the first time. Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was just -- it was heartbreaking, it was terrible," she said.

Wolf, the couple's lawyer, said the Manukyans were seeking emotional and punitive damages as well as court costs in their fight for their infant son in New York and payments made to CHA.

"I hope that no one ever has to suffer through what my family has been through and I hope that CHA sees this, understands what it did, stops lying and takes responsibility before even more families are hurt," Anni Manukynan said.

"Plaintiffs' pain and fear has not abated with their reunion with their son. They cry every day. They continue to see mental-health professionals. They no longer trust anyone, and their guard is always up. Their ordeal has not ended; it is just beginning. This is something that they will live with for the rest of their lives," the lawsuit said.

The couple said Wednesday that their baby boy was thriving and bonding with the family but Ashot Manukyan said that his family had suffered mentally.

"CHA put my family through living hell. We were like zombies. We could not sleep, eat or focus. We were helpless. It was awful. This situation should never happen. ... The hurting needs to stop and responsibility must be taken," he said.

CHA Fertility Center did not return ABC News' request for comment.

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