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Monday
Dec292014

How an Entire Community Rallied Around Cancer-Stricken High School Footballer

Jason DeMichele (FREEPORT, Ill.) -- Dominic DeMichele was having a successful high school football season until he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September.

The 19-year-old defensive back from Freeport, Illinois, missed the last half of the season because of chemotherapy treatments but said an amazing outpouring of community support helped keep him strong.

“Obviously, getting sick sidetracked many of my plans but also gave me a renewed sense of gratitude,” the Aquin High School senior said.

His teammates and the rest of the 120 students at his small Catholic school began holding events to help his family pay for his treatment almost from the moment they learned of his diagnosis, he said. They held fundraisers, sold T-shirts and put on bake sales. At the school’s homecoming, his teammates raised over $8,000 by taking bids from people to shave their heads.

After he told quarterback Austin Chang about his illness, his best friend ducked into the boy’s bathroom at the school to wipe away his tears. But then Chang took to Twitter to start the hashtag #Domstrong.

The hashtag went viral within hours, Chang said, with thousands of people from all over the world tweeting in words of prayer and encouragement.

What has surprised him the most, DeMichele said, is the support from rival football teams. During the halftime of an especially hard-fought game, the neighboring team from Polo -- one of Aquin’s fiercest opponents -- presented him with a gift basket and the proceeds from the 50/50 raffle. Other teams wore #Domstrong stickers on their helmets.

"Football can be a pretty mean sport and you have to go in with the idea that we don’t like these guys,” DeMichele said. “But you have to be thankful for the other teams and what they’ve done.”

DeMichele’s father, Jason DeMichele, said the various events raised more than $20,000. The funds will be used to help pay for his son’s follow-up care.

And some good news: DeMichele is now in remission. If he can remain cancer-free for at least five years, he will be considered cured.

He’s not cleared to play football again but he is able to play on the school’s basketball team. The experience of being sick has changed his outlook, he said.

“Before all this I was coasting through life,” he said. “Now I couldn’t be more thankful for every prayer, every T-shirt sold, every dollar raised to help me.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec292014

Scotland Confirms First Case of Ebola

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A health worker who was treating patients in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola in Scotland, the Scottish government announced Monday.

The health worker arrived in Scotland's Glasgow Airport on a British Airways flight at 11:30 p.m. last night after flying through Casablanca and London's Heathrow Airport.

The patient, who has not been identified, was admitted to the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow and placed in isolation at 7:50 a.m. local time. The patient's contacts are being identified and monitored, according to a statement from the Scottish government.


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Monday
Dec292014

Research Says How Long It Takes to Get Over a Break-Up

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- They say time heals all wounds, but what kind of time are they actually talking about?  When it comes to getting over a break-up, new research is now suggesting there could be a time limit on your suffering.

A new study in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggests the magic amount of time to get over a break-up is about three months.

Researchers found 71 percent of people reported that it took them 11 weeks before they could see the positive aspect of the breakup.

And, it's not longer for people who get dumped rather than those who do the dumping -- researchers say the time frame is about the same for both.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec292014

Why the Flu May Be Especially Deadly to Children This Year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three children in Minnesota have died of complications from a particularly potent strain of the flu virus, health officials said.

An additional seven children were in the intensive care unit of the Children's Hospital in St. Paul, according to the most recent report from the Minnesota Health Department.

Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases physician with the Mayo Clinic and a member of the Mayo vaccine research group, said this year’s strain of flu is especially dangerous and can quickly become a life-threatening condition in children.

“The virus can enter the blood stream and then the brain, creating severe respiratory symptoms including shortness of breath and a very high fever,” he said.


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Tosh said that even in a healthy child, the body can overcompensate, sending white blood cells flooding into the lungs. This can overwhelm the body and cause serious consequences.

“If the body’s reaction to the virus is too vigorous, this can cause as much damage as the virus itself,” he said.

Flu strains are named for molecule types surrounding the outside of the virus particle. There are 17 different types of hemagglutinin, or H particles, which allow the virus to bind to cells. There are nine different types of neuraminidase, or N particles, that allow the virus to spread the infection throughout the body.

About 90 percent of flu cases so far this year have been the H3N2 subtype, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  H3 subtypes tend to lead to the largest number of hospitalizations and deaths, particularly for children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system, Tosh said.

To complicate matters, this year’s strain is not well-matched to what was predicted by the surveillance community, so the current vaccine is not a great match, Tosh said.

“Some would speculate that this means the vaccine won’t work as well, but that has not been proven,” Tosh said. “You should still get your flu shot because it’s the best protection we have.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec292014

Expectant Mom Whose Ultrasound Face Went Viral Gives Birth to Quadruplets

Alicia Hallock/Gardner Quad Squad/YouTube(NEW YORK) -- It was the shocked expectant mom face seen around the world.

Last fall, Ashley Gardner's priceless expression went viral when her husband snapped a photo of her as she found out she was pregnant with two sets of identical twins.

And now, after a little more than 29 weeks, the babies have arrived via cesarean section.

"Mom and babies are doing incredible!!!" the family wrote on its Facebook account, A Miracle Unfolding -- Gardner Quadruplets. "We are so happy with how everything turned out today! The doctors, nurses, and staff were incredible!! More updates to follow soon!!"

The smallest baby was just less than two pounds, and the rest were more than two pounds, according to the Facebook page. All four newborn girls have dark hair, it said.

"Mama is doing great and Dad is over joyed!" the Facebook page read.

The Pleasant Grove, Utah, couple had tried to have children for years but Ashley Gardner, 27, had endometriosis, making conception difficult. So they underwent in-vitro fertilization and had two embryos implanted. But the embryos split, creating two sets of identical twins. In a natural birth, the chances of this happening is one in 70 million.


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Sunday
Dec282014

The Man Behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge's 'Viral Storm'

Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The ice bucket challenge was the trend of the summer, soaking the nation in a waterfall of frigid water and charitable giving, with countless videos filling Facebook news feeds and Twitter messages.

While the challenge was taken by thousands of Americans – including well-known athletes, celebrities, and politicians – the inspiration behind the challenge is less widely known.

Pete Frates, a former baseball player for Boston College, was 27 years old when he started experiencing symptoms of ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. But almost immediately after receiving the devastating diagnosis, he set to work.

Frates can no longer speak on his own, but his mother Nancy explained that he was “ready with the vision” just hours after his diagnosis.

“‘What an opportunity we’ve been given to change the world … I’m gonna get this disease in front of philanthropists like Bill Gates,’” she recalled him saying.

Frates wasn’t the first to take the ice bucket challenge or to come up with it, but he was perhaps its best marketer – turning an Internet challenge into a charitable sensation.

Frates and a friend from New York who also has ALS had seen occasional fundraising by sports figures that involved them throwing ice water for good causes.

So Frates staged a mass bucket challenge in downtown Boston with one choice: make a donation for ALS research in 24 hours or dump a bucket of ice water over your head.

“It was amazing. It was stupendous. It’s incredible, and that was week one,” explained Frates’s father, John Frates. “Then when it went national, I’m saying, ‘My God, this is what it feels like to be in the middle of a viral storm.’”

Despite its contagious popularity, the challenge was not without its critics, many whom said it gave people an excuse not to donate money directly to the cause, while others felt the challenge was becoming more about the videos and less about the message.

But the ALS Association has no such qualms.

“The awareness level of ALS just went through the charts,” President and CEO Barbara Newhouse told ABC News. “Prior to the ice bucket challenge, most people – if you said ALS – they would not have been able to tell you anything about it.”

The challenge has raised about $115 million to date, but Newhouse said they still have a long way to go, explaining that it can take up to $1 billion to bring a new drug to the market.

Even so, the ice bucket challenge has changed the Frates family – every cube, every bucket an individual show of support.

“The power, the joy, the hope that came through on those videos back to Pete, number one, and ourselves,” Nancy Frates said.

“It’s almost like we got a visual, ‘we’re with you,’ from every person doing it,” added John Frates.

Nancy Frates said her son’s challenge may one day be what started the path to unlocking the key to curing ALS.

“Those that are now living with ALS and those that are yet to be diagnosed – the head researchers that we know, the head doctors in this field, have said to us over and over again, ‘This is it. When the treatment is found and the cure is found, it will go back to August 2014 as the tipping point in the trajectory of this disease … and it was Pete Frates.’”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec272014

Colorado Moves Up List of States with Most Marijuana Users 

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- A new study shows Colorado emerging as the state with the second-highest percentage of regular marijuana users after the drug was legalized.

The study, by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, found about 1 out of 8 Colorado residents older than 12 had used marijuana in the month before they were surveyed.

The survey took place from 2012 through 2013; the survey does not include data from 2014, which is the year pot dispensaries opened in the state.

The study says Rhode Island is the state with the highest percentage of residents that used pot during the same time period.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec262014

HIV Linked to Worse Hearing in Older Adults

BernardaSv/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study tied HIV to inferior hearing in older adults.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, researchers looked at data from 396 patients, including 222 who were HIV positive. Each patient had their hearing tested using tones at various frequencies.

Researchers said that both the higher and lower frequency sounds were less likely to be heard by HIV-positive patients. That result was consistent regardless of which ear was tested.

The study noted that high-frequency hearing loss is consistent with accelerated aging, but that low-frequency hearing loss in middle-aged adults, such as those tested, was "unexpected." They also noted that some sounds in the English language have naturally low-frequency acoustic energy, HIV-positive patients may have harder time hearing speech.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec262014

Meet Zeb, the Adorably Ugly One-Eyed, Four-Toothed Senior Cat

Photo by Beth Flor(NEW YORK) -- They do say a cat has nine lives, and Zeb knows a thing or two about that firsthand.

In one former life, the now around 12-year-old cat was perfectly healthy. In another, he contracted feline immunodeficiency virus, similar to HIV in humans, lost an eye and all but four of his teeth.

A third life led him to the Cumberland County SPCA in New Jersey, a shelter that euthanizes pets if necessary. Life number four was a save by Philadelphia’s senior pet rescue organization City of Elderly Love.

But it’s his fifth life that will hopefully be his favorite. Zeb has recently landed himself in a loving home in Spring City, Penn. with a mom, dad, two human siblings, a cat and three dog siblings.

“He's really affectionate. He’s just happy to have blankets to lie on and people to give him some affection,” Beth Flor, Zeb’s new mom, told ABC News. “He’s just really, really sweet."

Flor wanted a cuddly cat for her two children, and she knew Zeb was perfect when she saw a video of him immediately snuggling up to the first worker he met at City of Elderly Love.

"My kids absolutely adore him,” Flor said. "It’s hard to get photos of him because I get on the floor to get a photo and he immediately runs over.”

Flor is passionate about senior pet adoptions after volunteering at a shelter and falling in love with a senior dog.

“Just because an animal may not look like the obvious choice for adoption doesn’t mean he or she won’t be perfect for your family,” Flor explained.

Which is certainly true for Zeb, who is not only perfect for the Flor family, but has also already inspired a following of over 2,500 people on Facebook, probably due to his good looks.

“People like an underdog, I think,” Flor said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec262014

Couple Welcomes Triplets on Christmas Day

Penn State Hershey Medical Center(HERSHEY, Pa.) -- Christmas just became even more special for one Pennsylvania family, whose triplets arrived on Christmas Day.

Courtney Stash wasn't due until February, but she went into labor on Dec. 20.

Although doctors tried to delay the birth as long as possible, Averee, Claire and Eoin were born at 10:35 a.m. at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center on Thursday, according to a hospital statement.


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