Review Category : Health

Dog Hailed ‘Living Miracle’ After Surviving a Month Trapped at the Bottom of a Well

Prairie Animal Health Centre(ESTEVAN, Saskatchewan) — This 7-year-old dog is being hailed a “living miracle” after surviving nearly a month at the bottom of an abandoned well in Canada, according to a veterinarian.

The chocolate lab named Bruno was rescued last Friday, Oct. 14 from the muddy well some 27 days after going missing, said Dr. Catherine Colodey with Prairie Animal Health Centre.

The vet estimated that the pup had been in the well the entire time based on its physical condition and injuries.

The dog had been taken to the animal health center’s offices in Weyburn and Estevan in the province of Saskatchewan after being found and rescued by his owner, Colodey said. Initially, doctors weren’t sure if Bruno was going to make it, she added.

“I’ll never forget what he looked like,” she told ABC News Friday. “He looked like a skeleton with skin. He was caked in mud and his skin had deep rashes from standing in that murky, wet environment for so long.”

Bruno “couldn’t even pick up his head, let alone open his eyes,” Colodey said. She added that had he lost “almost half of his body weight” and was “extremely emaciated.”

And though Bruno was “severely dehydrated,” Colodey believes he had some access to water thanks to recent snowfall in the area.

“It’s already snowed here quite a bit, I mean, it’s Canada,” Colodey said. “And a lot of us don’t like the snow all that much, but to be honest, the snow was what probably kept Bruno alive.”

Colodey and her staff “spent all weekend” starting Bruno’s rigorous plan of treatment including IV fluids, pain medications, antibiotics and physiotherapy, she said. He made slow improvements every few hours, proving “everyone who doubted him wrong” and showing that “he was a fighter.”

“He’s been such an inspiration and caring for him has just reminded of why I got into this work in the first place,” Colodey said. “It’s going to be a long road of recovery for him before he can reach that steak his family has promised him at the end, but I’m so sure he’ll get there.”

The chocolate lab is now under the care of veterinary specialists with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

“He’s begun walking, and we’re just so happy he’s doing better,” owner Cindy Billesberger told ABC News Friday.

Bruno had originally went missing on Sept. 17, when he likely fell into the well, according to Cindy Billesberger’s husband, John Billesberger.

“He just never came back home for supper one day,” John Billesberger told ABC News Friday. “We had almost completely lost all hope. We thought maybe someone had taken him.”

But in a stroke of luck a few weeks later, one of John Billesberger’s two other labradors found Bruno while they were out on a walk on Oct. 14.

“I couldn’t believe it,” John Billesberger said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s just so great to have my friend back.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Woman with Cancer Fights Back with Dance, Laughter

Ana-Alecia Ayala(DALLAS) — One woman in Texas is dancing through her battle with cancer.

In a video posted to Facebook and Instagram that has since gone viral, Ana-Alecia Ayala dances while undergoing chemotherapy with her friend, Danielle Andrus, to “Juju on That Beat” by Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall.

Ayala, a 32-year-old mother, was diagnosed with a rare tumor in her uterus last December that spread to her ovaries and into the lining of her stomach. She had surgery to remove it, but in July a new tumor appeared in her spleen and she had to undergo in-patient chemotherapy for four days.

She told ABC News affiliate KVUE-TV that she wants to inspire others to “not look at cancer as a death sentence and try to make the most of bad situations.”

“I also want to encourage cancer patients loved ones to step out of their comfort zones (as Danielle did for me) and be silly, have a dance party, be present in the moment and have a great time,” she said to KVUE-TV. “Laughter is the best medicine and I hope to make people smile, even at the expense of my bad dance moves.”

As of Friday evening the video was seen by more than 7 million people on Facebook. The pair have recorded a number of other dancing videos to lift their spirits.

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Six Candy Corn-Inspired Recipes for Halloween 2016

Averie Cooks(NEW YORK) — Candy corn is one of the sweetest things about Halloween, but true sweet tooths take the traditional treats to the next level. Make the most of candy corn with these homemade recipes for cookies, party mix, ooeey-gooey bars and more that incorporate the iconic candy. Then get ready for a sugar rush!

White Chocolate Monster Munch Mix

The sisters behind have an easy family recipe for Halloween party mix. Mix pretzels, Corn Chex, candy corn and more for a Halloween gathering or they suggest packaging it into single-serving bags for on-the-go goodies. Click here for the recipe.

Averie Cooks’ Candy Corn and White Chocolate Softbatch Cookies

Averie Cooks adds candy corn and white chocolate chips to one of her softbatch-style cookie recipes to add extra sweetness. Click here for the recipe.

Kara’s Party Ideas’ Candy Corn Milkshakes

Kara’s Party Ideas’ recipe for Candy Corn Milkshakes with vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet are the Pinterest-perfect addition to any party. Click here for the recipe.

The Domestic Rebel’s Candy Corn Magic Bars

Loaded with tons of candy corn, these gooey bars from the Domestic Rebel are a Halloween sugar rush. Click here for the recipe.

Taste of Home’s Candy Corn Quesadillas

These quesadillas are decorated with shredded Mexican cheese to look like the Halloween candy. Click here for the recipe.

Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

Try Saving with Shellie‘s recipe for a fun salty and sweet treat. Click here for the recipe.

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Eight-Year-Old With Spina Bifida Turns Wheelchair Into ‘Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 Car for Halloween

Ryan Scott Miller(NEW YORK) — An 8-year-old boy from California transformed his wheelchair into a show-stopping, “Ghostbusters”-themed Halloween costume.

Jeremy Miller, of Murrieta, California, has been in a wheelchair since age 3 due to spina bifida. This year, he turned his wheelchair into a replica of the Ecto-1 car from the original “Ghostbusters” movie.

“We’ve watched all three movies, and he’s now watched a bunch of the ‘Ghostbuster’ cartoons on Netflix,” Jeremy’s dad, Ryan Scott Miller, told ABC News. “Whatever we’re doing, he really dives into it.”

Miller, who works in IT, oversees the annual construction of Jeremy’s Halloween costume, a process that begins in early September.

Miller, his wife, Beth Miller, and their two other children join Jeremy in making the costume’s creation a family affair. It was Beth Miller who this year found the Ecto-1 toy car that served as the inspiration and model for Jeremy’s costume.

Miller said they used foam board, floral foam, PVC, wood glue, screws, wood pieces, six-volt batteries and wiring among other materials to construct the replica car in which Jeremy moves around as in a real car.

The Ecto-1 replica also features working lights, a siren and speaker that plays the “Ghostbusters” theme music. The roof rack features a ladder, warning light, cannisters and satellite dish.

“I see how much Jeremy lights up in it,” Miller said. “He loves being the character and the center of attention. He hams it up.”

Jeremy showed off his costume earlier this month at a Halloween party at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he goes for care.

“A girl who was being wheeled on a hospital bed heard the ‘Ghostbusters’ music and lifted her head up and smiled and then kept going,” Miller recalled. “That’s ultimately what this is about, bringing smiles to people.”

Jeremy will wear the costume again on Halloween night to trick-or-treat in his hometown.

“We’re going to blare that siren and music as loud as possible,” Miller said. “We’re also going to have a blown-up marshmallow man following him. It’ll be great.”

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Pediatrics Group Gives New Guidelines on Screen Time for Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As tablets, smartphones, laptops and other devices become more ubiquitous, pediatricians are telling parents to help their children have a “healthy media diet.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines today that focus on how much screen time is appropriate for infants, toddlers and children of pre-school age.

“Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep,” Dr. Jenny Radesky, lead author of the AAP policy recommendations, said in a statement.

Among the recommendations: strictly limiting screen time for children under the age of 18 months and allowing toddlers to watch some highly educational programs like “Sesame Street.” When children are between the ages of two to five, the AAP recommends no more than one hour of TV per day.

Families with children over the age of five are encouraged to develop a “family media use plan” to help facilitate media-free time, active lifestyles and healthy sleeping patterns. The AAP has released a new online tool focused on helping families come up with their own media plan, available here.

“Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate media, which can have both positive and negative effects,” Dr. Megan Moreno, lead author of the policy statement on media use in school-aged children and teens, said in statement released by the AAP. “Parents can set expectations and boundaries to make sure their children’s media experience is a positive one. The key is mindful use of media within a family.”

Carolyn Landis, child psychologist at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said that the guidelines are a good first step, but the medical community also needs to help parents implement these recommendations.

“When I think about the guidelines…it’s very difficult for parents to follow them,” said Landis. “What we have to come up with is not just the guidelines but how can we support parents?”

Landis said parents often know they should limit screen time for children, especially infants and toddlers. However, it can be difficult to keep a “healthy” media plan in mind when a parent is dealing with a hectic household and trying keep a child occupied, she noted.

The AAP warns that excessive time spent in front of the computer, television and other devices can put children at increased risk for obesity, disruptive sleep and “problematic internet use,” where a child might withdraw from “real-life” relationships. The AAP also warned that cyberbullying remains a concern as teens and adolescents increasingly rely on social media to communicate.

Some children also get in the habit of going to sleep with the television on, which can contribute to restless sleep or insomnia.

“That sets up the habit [where] they are exposed to the light and they might stay up later,” Landis said.

Landis has some some basic advice for parents: get involved and engage with your children. Additionally, she recommends setting up active playdates at a bowling alley, rock climbing wall or another location where a child will be inclined to put down the phone.

“Sometimes the kids get together and all they do is sit and look at their phones,” she said.

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Officials: Model Died After Chiropractic Procedure

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Katie May, a Playboy model and so-called “queen of Snapchat,” died in February after visiting a chiropractor’s office for a neck adjustment, officials said.

The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV that May’s death was due to “vertebral artery dissection,” or a manipulation of the neck.

Before her death, May, 34, tweeted: “Pinched a nerve in my neck on a photoshoot and got adjusted this morning. It really hurts!”

Days later, she tweeted again: “It still hurts. Going back to chiropractor tomorrow.”

According to officials, when May returned for that subsequent visit, the chiropractor tore one of her arteries during a neck manipulation, cutting off blood flow to her brain and causing a stroke. She died a few days later at the hospital, leaving behind her 7-year-old daughter Mia.

Her two sisters, Jenny McKerrow and Megan Mitchell, spoke to Pittsburgh ABC affiliate, WTAE, about the tragic loss. “We got a call and by the time my parents got out to L.A., the next day, she was on life support,” McKerrow said while fighting back tears.

ABC News’ requests for comment to the chiropractor were not answered.

In a statement, the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners said it is “aware of the incident and is conducting an investigation,” adding that the doctor “has an active license and has no disciplinary actions against him.”

“Your heart sinks because you feel like it was preventable,” said Mitchell. “We don’t want Katie’s death to be in vain.”

Doctors say these types of accidents are rare but can be very serious when they do happen.

“It should make us all step back and ask our doctors, ‘Well, what are the risks to all the procedures?’” Dr. Manuel Momjian, a family medicine specialist, told ABC News.

The late model’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for May’s daughter.

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Your Body: Should Pediatricians Discuss Gun Safety with Parents?

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised pediatricians for years to talk to families about firearm safety in the home. But a new study suggests most doctors don’t bring up the subject.

Though most parents were open to discussions about gun safety with their pediatricians, approximately a third of parents said they didn’t want to be asked whether they had a gun and would ignore or even take offense to advice to remove guns from the house.

In 2013, more than 6,000 children were hospitalized due to firearm-related incidents, and over 2,400 died.

Gun control does have medical and physical angles. So healthcare providers should ask about it to help keep kids safe and informed.

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The UN’s Role in the Devastating Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As Hurricane Matthew churned off the coast of Haiti earlier this month public health officials and aid groups issued warnings not just about the dangers from the storm itself but what could follow: a cholera outbreak.

In 2010, a devastating cholera outbreak infected hundreds of thousands in Haiti just months after a severe earthquake left more than 100,000 dead. Prior to the outbreak, there were no reported cases of cholera in Haiti.

This summer, the United Nations finally acknowledged that it was involved in the initial outbreak and the profound suffering that has followed.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that can lead to potentially serious symptoms of watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps, according to the CDC. Often spread through contaminated water or food, the incubation period of the disease can be as short as two hours, meaning it can move quickly through a densely populated area. As the mucus membrane of the intestinal wall is affected, it can lead to diarrhea that can cause severe dehydration.

The disease appeared in Haiti in October 2010 and spread quickly, causing an estimated 770,000 infections in the years since and approximately 9,200 related deaths, according to a 2016 report in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics.

Within days of the first diagnosis, the AP reported that local politicians and other residents suspected the source of the outbreak was the human waste entering a river system from a military camp for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. A group of peacekeeping soldiers had recently arrived there from Nepal, where cholera is endemic. AP reporters found U.N. investigators testing samples for cholera and a septic tank that was overflowing with broken pipes.

At the time U.N. officials strongly denied the base was linked to the outbreak and reportedly told the AP that no Nepalese soldiers had the disease and that the liquid being tested was from kitchens and showers and not from human waste.

On November 1, 2010, the CDC, working with Haitian public health experts, announced that the strain of the disease was similar to one seen in South Asia.

John Mekalanos, a cholera expert and chairman of Harvard University’s microbiology department, told the AP in a November 3 news report that early evidence suggested military UN members likely brought the disease to Haiti from Nepal where an outbreak had recently been reported.

Dr. Renaud Piarroux, an epidemiologist at the University of Aix-Marseille, then worked on the ground in Haiti with Haitian and French experts in the days and weeks that followed to confirm the source of the outbreak. They quickly identified the U.N. camp as the likely cause of the outbreak.

Piarroux and his co-authors later published a study about the source of the outbreak in Emerging Infectious Diseases medical journal in 2011. The study’s findings “strongly” suggested that the United Nations camp led to the contamination of the Artibonite river and one of its tributaries, which helped to trigger the cholera epidemic. The tributary system was a source of water for bathing, drinking and cooking for those living downstream from the camp. Early findings from Piarroux’s report were published by the AP, in 2010 putting additional pressure on the U.N. to investigate the source of the outbreak.

However, confirmation by officials was hampered since, in the weeks after the outbreak began, officials at the CDC, UN and the World Health Organization said finding the source was not a priority.

“Our primary focus here is to save lives and control the spread of disease,” CDC medical epidemiologist Dr. Jordan Tappero, who was leading the CDC cholera response team in Haiti, said in its that Nov. 1, 2010, press release. “We realize that it’s also important to understand how infectious agents move to new countries. However, we may never know the actual origin of this cholera strain.”

A WHO spokesman told the AP in November 2010 that the question of whether U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal were to blame was “not a priority.” Riots broke out after the U.N. dismissed the allegations about the peacekeeping camp, saying its sanitation was airtight, according to the AP. By December, however, the AP reported that the U.N had relented, calling for a probe into the cause of the outbreak.

In February 2011, independent investigators sent by the United Nations finally arrived in Haiti to examine the possible cause of the outbreak.

Their report, released in May 2011, acknowledged that members of the United Nation Stabilization Mission in Haiti arrived in the country after working in Nepal, where the disease is endemic. They also found that the water system at the camp was “haphazard,” and that human waste was being disposed of near a tributary where the early cholera cases were reported. Furthermore, local hospital staff reported to the U.N. researchers that the first severe cases of cholera came from an area named Meye, which is located 150 meters downstream from the U.N. camp where the soldiers had been staying.

However, that 2011 U.N. report stopped short of putting blame specifically on that camp, going only so far to say there was an “hypothesis” that the source was the soldiers from a cholera-endemic country was “a commonly held belief in Haiti”. The report went on to say that the country of origin of the strain was “debatable” and instead cited multiple factors for the spread of the disease, including the widespread use of the tributary system by Haitians, their lack of immunity to cholera, and the conditions within medical facilities treating the victims.

“The Independent Panel concludes that the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances as described above, and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual,” the report said.

The United Nations refusal to accept responsibility for the outbreak led to continued demonstrations in Haiti. Members of the medical community also railed against the U.N. for shirking responsibility.

In 2013, researchers from the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health released a report called “Peacekeeping without Accountability” to analyze the actions of the U.N.

“By causing the epidemic and then refusing to provide redress to those affected, the U.N. has breached its commitments to the Government of Haiti, its obligations under international law, and principles of humanitarian relief,” the report authors wrote.

That same year, a number of advocacy groups filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of five U.S. and Haitian citizens affected by the cholera outbreak against the U.N. and certain U.N. officials alleging they were responsible. A United States District Judge found that the U.N. had immunity from prosecution, according to court documents.

The decision was appealed this year but the original decision was affirmed. The plaintiffs have until mid-November to decide whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Then, this past August, The New York Times broke the news of a confidential report from New York University law professor and U.N. special rapporteur, Philip Alston, to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his report, Alston wrote, “The fact is that cholera would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.”

Shortly after that report was made public, the United Nations finally acknowledged that its personnel likely played a part in the Haitian cholera outbreak. “Over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, told reporters on August 18.

The following day, Haq said, “The Secretary-General deeply regrets the terrible suffering the people of Haiti have endured as a result of the cholera epidemic.” “The United Nations has a moral responsibility to the victims of the cholera epidemic and for supporting Haiti in overcoming the epidemic and building sound water, sanitation and health systems.”

Piarroux, the lead author of the 2011 study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in September, decrying the United Nations for taking so long to acknowledge its role and respond to the crisis.

“By admitting that it was involved in the outbreak, the United Nations made only a first and timid step toward a full assessment of its responsibility,” he wrote. “The United Nations must continue to open up about what happened in Haiti, rectify the damage, and establish policies that prevent such disasters in the future. Its credibility is still on the line.”

A spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general told ABC News a full presentation on the assistance and support to combat the Haitian cholera outbreak will be presented later this month.

Today, the U.N. camp at the center of the outbreak controversy is no longer fully functional and has no military members, according to a spokesperson for the U.N.’s Departments of Peacekeeping and Field Support.

Since the 2010 outbreak, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti has pursued a multi-pronged course of action to adequately deal with the waste management of its peacekeeping forces. It was not until October, 2015, that the U.N.’s oversight services department found the Mission to be in compliance with all of the recommended procedures.

In addition, as of late 2013, the peacekeeping forces have been supporting the Haitian government in its long-term plan to eradicate cholera.

In the meantime, in Haiti today, cholera remains stubbornly endemic. This week, the Pan American Health Organization reported there have been 1,351 suspected cases of cholera identified since Hurricane Matthew hit the country. PAHO has identified the disease as a main priority in the storm’s aftermath.

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Knee Injuries Nothing to Sniff At: Nasal Cartilage Grafts Used to Help Sore Knees

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Millions of Americans suffer from painful knee joints as a result from damaged knee cartilage. Damage can produce severe pain, and if left untreated, it can spread to involve the whole surface of the bone in the knee, which eventually leads to painful and damaging osteoarthritis. But there could be hope: In a new small study published in the Lancet today from Swiss researchers, surgeons are using nasal cartilage to help patch up knees.

Researchers from the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland performed a small study on 10 patients to see if nasal cartilage may help damaged knees.

Helping repair injured knees can be key for keeping adults healthy later in life. Nearly one in two Americans may develop painful knee joints by the time they reach the age of 85. For physically active individuals or professional athletes the damage may start decades before, leading to severe pain.

The researchers extracted cartilage-producing cells called chondrocytes from the noses of patients and seeded them on a collagen membrane in a lab for two weeks. These cells grew into cartilage, which the researchers then grafted into the knees of the patients. They then followed up with nine of the patients for two years to see if they were satisfied with the results and evaluated the quality of the cartilage with imaging. One patient suffered a sports injury during the trial, which necessitated doctors re-doing the procedure, and his results were not included in the final report.

“We’re trying to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis,” Dr. Ivan Martin, study co-author and professor of tissue engineering at the Institute for Surgical Research and Hospital Management at the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, told ABC News. “For the first time, cells taken from nasal cartilage were transferred to the knee.”

Martin said the patients mainly had injuries from recent trauma, including car and ski accidents.

While harvesting cartilage from the knee to then graft onto damaged cartilage is a common procedure in the U.S., nasal cartilage had not been used in this manner before.

Dr. Riley Williams, director of the Institute for Cartilage Repair at Hospital for Special Surgery, associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and an orthopedic surgeon who has used cartilage cells from the knee to fix ankles hips and shoulders, said there is potential for this experimental procedure.

“Nasal cartilage is hyaline cartilage same as is found in the knee, so I’m not surprised it would form new hyaline cartilage when transplanted into the knee, so it should over time mature to cartilage-like tissue,” he said.

The researchers found that the cartilage from the nasal septum not only integrated well with the surrounding tissue but also appeared to be better quality in comparison to transplanted knee cartilage.

Martin said that the study is still preliminary and more research needs to be done but that MRI data from the small study shows “the composition of our patients’ [cartilage] is better than reported in other studies.”

The researchers also found that the quality of these nasal cartilage grafts improved over time as the cartilage cells matured.

While the study officially followed patients for up to two years, “The first patient reached three-and-a-half years after the procedure, and they’re still doing very well,” Martin said.

That patient, identified as Salome, told ABC News the procedure has helped her stay active.

“My cartilage damage was quite severe,” said Salome of her knee before the procedure. “Before this operation, I could not do normal work in the household, I could only stand for an hour before my knee swelled up. I can now stand for up to six hours. I now do Zumba!”

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Mom Uses IVF to Protect Daughter From BRCA Mutation

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Growing up, Lindsay Avner saw firsthand the devastating toll breast and ovarian cancer could take on a family. Her grandmother and great-grandmother passed away from cancer before she was born and her mother was treated for breast and ovarian cancer when she was just 12 years old.

She underwent testing at the age of 22 to find out if she had a mutation on the BRCA gene that is associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. She ultimately tested positive for the BRCA1 gene, meaning she had a 55 to 70 percent chance of developing breast cancer and approximately a 40 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer, according to medical literature.

For comparison, the risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 12 percent and the risk of developing ovarian cancer is just 1 percent in the general population.

After her diagnosis, Avner was proactive about her health. She told ABC News earlier about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy at age 23 to reduce her risk of breast cancer. She also started a non-profit called “Bright Pink” that focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.

At age 30 she had eggs frozen in case she wanted to go through a second preventative surgery to remove her ovaries before she had children.

But last year she had to debate a new kind of preventative measure: undergoing IVF to stop the BRCA1 gene from affecting her future children.

Fertility doctors are now able to test embryos to detect any BRCA mutation in a process called “preimplantation genetic diagnosis.” After a woman undergoes an IVF cycle, the resulting embryos can be tested for the BRCA gene mutation and the patient can then decide whether or not to implant that embryo.

Avner said her husband was the one who pushed her to take the test.

“He said, ‘Are you out of your mind, you’ve seen cancer up close and personal,'” Avner told ABC News. “He was the one who was like ‘We have this opportunity, you preached being proactive.'”

Avner’s husband Gregg Kaplan and his three teenage children know the BRCA gene well. Kaplan’s first wife was told she carried the BRCA mutation after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She later died from the disease and Avner said her three teenage stepchildren will likely be tested for the BRCA gene mutation in the future.

As they discussed fertility options, Avner recalled her husband saying, “Here is the greatest gift we can give our future child.”

According to fertility doctors, the growing popularity of BRCA testing has led many young women to talk about their fertility options. It can be a fraught and complicated topic, since some women are not ready to have children and are still grappling with the BRCA diagnosis.

“We’ve known about the BRCA gene for about 20 years,” said Dr. Elisa Port, chief of breast surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “This is the first generation of BRCA carriers who are of childbearing age for whom this technology and this intervention is feasible.”

In addition to the financial expense and the emotional experience of having to wait to see if an implanted embryo successfully develops into a pregnancy, women with the BRCA gene may face additional fertility issues. Some studies have appeared to show that women with the genetic mutation have a decreased ovarian reserve and earlier menopause, but the data is mixed, according to Dr. Matthew Lederman, reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility of Mount Sinai Hospital.

“They’re coming in younger knowing that they have BRCA mutation and they want to talk about freezing eggs and embryos,” Lederman said.

After deciding to pursue IVF, Avner went through two cycles of egg retrieval.

“My egg reserve had dropped so dramatically from age 30 to 33,” Avner said. “At that time my doctor was like, ‘I don’t understand I want to do another test.'”

Avner said her doctor advised Avner to start IVF immediately in order to boost her chance of having a child. The couple ended up with just four viable embryos without the BRCA mutation.

“We were so blessed that the first embryo worked,” Avner said. “Lucy was born on Sept. 30. She is insanely perfect, it is remarkable to look at her for many reasons…it’s such a dream come true.”

Avner, 34, said she hopes to have another child within the next 18 months and then will immediately have surgery to remove her ovaries. It’s a preventative measure that she is thankful her daughter will not have to grapple with in her life.

“When we look at Lucy it’s so hopeful,” she said. “Eleven women in my family have died from breast or ovarian cancer…the buck stops here and it’s so remarkable.”

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