Review Category : Health

Boy with Rare Condition Asks Internet for Help Finding Lost Dog

Lauren Ducalo(NEW YORK) — A boy with a rare tumor is pleading with the Internet to help find his family’s dog that went missing just days before he went into surgery.

Lauren Ducalo of Staten Island, New York told ABC News that her son Roman, 5, was sad to learn that Charlie, his grandmother’s Maltese, disappeared from her home on Feb. 6.

“It really bothered him that night, he kept waking up every couple of hours asking if Charlie came back,” Ducalo said. “[In the hospital], he said, ‘Grandma’s dog is gone. I have to hurry up with my surgery and help find him.'”

Roman was born with mesenchymal hamartoma of the chest wall, a condition that has resulted in him having an inoperable tumor on his cervical spine.

For the past year, Charlie the dog has been a healing factor for Roman — both physically and mentally, according to his mother.

“My mother had gotten this dog and it was an initial bond between the dog and my son,” Ducalo said. “[Roman] would cry when he’d have to go to therapy, but you put him in the room with the dog, and he’s rolling around the floor. My son didn’t walk until he was 2. It has been a therapy for him. It was Roman being a boy.”

But on Feb. 6, Ducalo said her mother Linda returned home to find that Charlie was gone.

The family is unsure if the dog was physically taken, or if he sneaked out on his own, according to Ducalo.

On Feb. 9, just three days after Charlie disappeared, Roman went through VEPTR surgery to expand the metal rod on his ribs, which helps his breathing.

Since then, he’s been asking for one thing and one thing only: for his buddy Charlie to return.

“He prays daily for Charlie to come back,” Ducalo said. “He doesn’t understand that there’s a big chance that the dog isn’t coming back…after this weekend if we don’t find him, we’ll have to tell him something.”

“This is a family member, this is not just a dog,” she added. “My mother is heartbroken. Things have not went right for my family in a very long time and when my mother found this dog she found company, and my son got attached. [Roman] misses the dog.”

Ducalo said Charlie barks often, jumps like a bunny and was wearing his doggy tags when he went missing.

She said she hopes media exposure helps reunite Roman with Charlie.

The family is offering a $1,000 reward for Charlie’s safe return.

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Your Body: The End of Stethoscopes?

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

What’s a doctor without his or her trusted stethoscope? A lot of new studies suggest, possibly, a better doctor.

With things like ultrasound and other high tech imaging devices being used more these days, some say the stethoscope is on its way out.

However, the editor in chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology writes that doctors should be better trained in the art of the physical exam — and that means listening closely to the heartbeat.

I grew up watching my dad, who’s a cardiologist, use his stethoscope all the time. As an OB/GYN, my ears aren’t as good as his are, but I still use it.

In my medical opinion, it’s a classic piece of equipment that still has a place.

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Formerly Conjoined Texas Twins Celebrate One Year Since Separation

Courtesy Mata Family(NEW YORK) — Formerly conjoined twin girls Adeline and Knatalye Mata were wheeled into an operating room at Texas Children’s Hospital one year ago Wednesday to undergo a highly complicated and risky surgery to separate them.

They were just 10 months old at the time and had spent their entire young lives living face-to-face. They shared a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs and lining of the heart and pelvis. Their chance of surviving the long surgery was still an unknown at the time.

But now it’s been one year since the surgery and the twins, whose middle names are Faith and Hope, are continuing to beat the odds. Both girls are thriving and will celebrate their 2nd birthdays on April 11.
“The girls are both doing so well,” Dr. Darrell Cass, the lead surgeon on the case and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center, said in a statement. “Neither have experienced any complications and they are both making steady progress.”

The girls’ mother Elysse Mata said in an interview provided by the hospital that both girls have reached different developmental milestones and are growing into their own personalities.

“Knatayle is trying to walk,” the girls’ father Eric Mata added. “She knocked out crawling so now she’s trying to walk.”

“Addie can’t walk or crawl, we’re working on that,” Mata continued. “But she scoots and she’s also all over the place too.”

“Nightline” was at Texas Children’s Hospital last year as a team of 12 surgeons spent 26 hours performing the separation surgery on Knatalye and Adeline.

Since the surgery, the girls have continued to come to the hospital for procedures and follow-up appointments.

Dr. Cass said the next step will be for Knatalye to undergo an operation on her chest again “to remove the metal struts that were used to stabilize the rib cage and to formally close her chest wall.”

While Adeline’s lungs are improving, Cass said she is still on a ventilator, but they are working on weaning her off it, and she will continue to work on speech and physical therapy.

“A year ago, we were up almost 48 hours and we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Elysse Mata said. “So to be able to look back on that and think, ‘Wow, here they are’ … it’s exciting. You look at them and you wouldn’t know that a year ago they were lying on a hospital bed facing each other, miserable because that’s all they could do, and I’m just excited about the next years.”

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Woman Wins $200 on Lottery Ticket, Uses It to Rent Motel Room for Cold Homeless Man — Sofia Andrade is on disability and she has three young children, so when she won $200 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, she knew the money could help. Then she saw a homeless man out in the cold on one of the most frigid days of the year and she knew it would help him more.

“And I was like ‘Where are you going? Can I buy you a cup of coffee?’” Andrade, 28, told ABC News in a Tuesday interview, of the Saturday encounter in New Bedford, Massachusetts. “I knew when I saw him that I’d been given this money to help him.”

Not only did she buy Glenn Williams that promised cup of coffee, but she also drove him to an area motel where she used her winnings to pay for a three-night stay.

Mahesh Patel, the manager at the Rosewood Motel in East Wareham, told ABC News that he was initially reluctant to rent a room to Williams because he didn’t have any identification. Patel said Andrade told him the man was her uncle and offered her own ID.

Patel said he “made an exception” because of the bitter cold. He said he also gave her a discount on the room — charging her $60 per night instead of the regular $65.

Andrade acknowledged that she did claim Williams was her uncle.

“I did. I did,” she told ABC News. “I could not leave him outside.”

According to, the high temperature in New Bedford was 25 degrees on Saturday.
In an interview at the motel with ABC News Boston affiliate WCVB-TV, Williams cried when he described Andrade’s kindness.

“I couldn’t believe there’s somebody like her,” he said. “She deserves a lot of the credit for where I am right now.”

Andrade’s Facebook post about Williams’ plight has gone viral, with many people praising her for her selflessness.

Andrade has set up a Go Fund Me account to collect money for Williams. As of Tuesday night, the fund had raised $13,210, nearly three times the original goal of $5,000.

Some people even went to the motel to try to help Williams. Patel told ABC News that people kept knocking on Williams’ door to offer him items. The attention made the man uncomfortable, Patel said.
Andrade said she moved Williams to another location which she declined to identify, citing the man’s request for privacy.

“He’s still wrapping his head around it,” she said of Williams’ response to the money raised through the fund. “He knows that it’s there and he knows that when he’s ready that money is completely … you know, it’s his. It’s his money.”

Williams told WCVB-TV that he was “overwhelmed” by all the help, which included donations of warm weather wear and even a Valentine’s Day card.

“There’s a lot of good people in this world … and I just want to thank everybody,” he said.

Andrade said she has taken Williams to get official identification as well as health insurance. Eventually, she’ll help him apply for housing.

A friend, Elizabeth Arone, gave Williams a haircut and has been helping her to pick up the donations which have been “pouring in” for Williams, Andrade added.

Saying Williams is “dealing with his own demons,” Andrade said the money would offer him a second chance.

“He’s been given an amazing opportunity to change his life and he doesn’t want to squander it,” she said. “He just doesn’t.”

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WHO Says $56 Million Needed to Combat Zika Virus in Coming Months

auimeesri/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization (WHO) say sit will take $56 million to jumpstart a coordinated international response to the Zika virus outbreak.

The WHO also says it plans to tap a newly created emergency contingency fund to pay for the initial efforts.

The plan will focus on “mobilizing and coordinating partners, experts and resources to help countries enhance surveillance of the Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it, improve vector control, effectively communicate risks, guidance and protection measures, provide medical care to those affected and fast-track research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” the WHO said in a press release.

Zika is a mosquito-transmitted infection that has been spreading rapidly throughout South America. Zika is believed to be linked to microcephaly, which causes brain damage in infants. WHO officials have declared Zika a public health emergency.

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Whole Foods Recalls Cheese for Potentially Fatal Food Poisoning

Magone/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) — Whole Foods is recalling a cheese for potentially fatal food poisoning.

A spokeswoman for the supermarket chain says “Pecorino Aged cheese in Walnut Leaves” is being recalled in one store in West Palm Beach, Florida and one store in the Bowery neighborhood of New York City because it may be contaminated with listeria.

The cheese from the Florida store has a sell-by date of February 29 to March 8 and the code 290107, according to a release from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cheese from the New York store has sell-by dates of March 3 to March 8 with the code 294239.

No illnesses have been reported, says the FDA.

Customers are asked to throw out the cheese and bring their receipts in for a refund.

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Study Claims Adderall Abuse Increasing in Young Adults

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — Adderall abuse is on the rise in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Adderall is a stimulant drug often used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, claims that while the number of prescriptions for Adderall for ADHD haven’t increased, there is a sharp rise in the number of young adults aged 18 to 25 years old who are abusing the drug.

The study compared trends in use, abuse and emergency room visits associated with the drug from 2006 through 2011. Researchers say that while the number of prescriptions didn’t change during that period, nonmedical use increased by 67.1 percent and emergency room visits went up by 155.9 percent.

One-half of those ER visits were a result of people who mixed Adderall with alcohol or other illicit drugs, the study found.

Those who were using the drug inappropriately were getting it primarily from friends or relatives, most of whom had obtained it from a doctor, the study said.

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Your Body: Paying for Therapy Out of Pocket

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

How much are you willing to pay for therapies not covered by insurance? According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lot.

Acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy have all grown in popularity between 2002 and 2012. While some insurance companies may provide partial coverage for these so-called “complimentary therapies,” most of them are not covered by insurance.

The CDC found that chiropractic services were the most likely to be covered by insurance, while massage therapy was the least likely.

So how can you get the best deals on your treatments?

Start by asking about the pros and cons of the proposed treatment.

Ask about the costs in advance, and if the price seems too high, ask about the possibility of a reduced-fee package or payment plan. There’s no harm in trying.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Disturbing Suicide Cluster Prompts CDC to Start Investigation in Palo Alto

ABC News(PALO ALTO, Calif.) — Shawna Chen recalled the unsettling response she got when she was in middle school and she told friends that she was going to attend the elite Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California.

“‘That’s the school with suicides,” Chen, 18, recalled her friends saying. “I don’t think I understood what that meant or the gravity of what that meant.”

The disconcerting comment stemmed from a horrific period between 2009 and 2010 during which five students or recent graduates from the school died by suicide, according to a report from the Palo Alto Unified School District. The deaths signaled a “suicide cluster,” defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as three or more suicides in close proximity in regards to time and space.

During her first two years at the high school, Chen said she didn’t think too much about the suicide cluster there as she focused on her academics at the school, which has been ranked as one of the best high schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

But then, as Chen and her classmates juggled college visits, SAT tests and AP classes, they also had to grapple with a second cluster between 2014 and 2015, the occurrence of which was noted during a school board meeting. These are sometimes called an “echo cluster,” according to the CDC.

Police and officials from the CalTrain commuter line confirmed that four local teens died from October 2014 to March 2015. CalTrain tracks run near the school and some of the students who committed suicide did so on those tracks, officials said. Chen said three of the deaths were students at Gunn or recent graduates. At least one other student from nearby Palo Alto High School also reportedly committed suicide during that time, according to local reports.

“It was a huge shock and there was a silent tension on campus on the following days,” she told ABC News of her experience during that time. “It was hard for people to wrap their heads around it.”

Palo Alto is not the only community to be affected by suicide clusters in recent years. In the last five years, the CDC has also investigated incidents in Fairfax County, Virginia, and two counties in Delaware where suicide clusters affected teens and young adults.

In Palo Alto, members of the CDC’s epidemiological assistance team are scheduled to begin an investigation this week on the “suicide contagion” risk in a similar way they may investigate a viral or bacterial outbreak that spreads through a community. As federal officials arrive in Palo Alto, they will face a community that is trying to find innovative ways to combat suicide when it becomes a “contagion.”

Learn more about the CDC investigation in Palo Alto during ABC News’ Nightline airing Wednesday at 12:35 a.m. ET

Suicide may seem to be the ultimate individual act, but a single suicide has the potential to cause a ripple effect with further deaths following in its wake, experts said, noting that these “suicide clusters” occur almost exclusively among teens and young adults.

Madelyn Gould, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, explained that teens are at a unique point in their life where their core relationships are changing and they are more impulsive than adults.

“Their relationships with other teens really start to play much more of a role than their relationships with their parents, and so they influence each other more,” she explained. “Between both the social influences and biological influences, it makes them much more vulnerable to being influenced by somebody else’s suicide.”

Gould has studied at least 50 suicide clusters throughout the U.S. and said one of the only constant threads that connect those at risk is age.

“There’s no such thing as a ‘suicide town,'” Gould told ABC News. “It crosses every socio-economic community from impoverished to wealthy, black to white, Native American. It really crosses all divides in the United States.”

The CDC even wrote a response plan in the 1980’s to “combat” and “prevent” clusters. In that report, the agency estimated that clusters account for 1 to 5 percent of suicides in adolescents and young adults.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Americans between the age of 15 to 24 and the third-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 to 15, according to the CDC.

In Palo Alto, the string of suicides prompted the community to act. Both local government leaders and school officials had already worked to address suicide risk after the 2009 to 2010 cluster. The Palo Alto Unified School District and the Santa Clara Health Department both organized and coordinated community responses and initiatives aimed at protecting students based on materials provided by the CDC.

Denise Herrmann has been the principal of Gunn High School for 18 months, and she said she has already had to attend three funerals for students. And she has grappled with how to help students heal after the deaths, she said.

Nightline co-anchor Byron Pitts traveled to Palo Alto recently and spoke to Herrmann about how students have worked together to cope with the tragedy.

Efforts to deal with the suicide cluster include a program to teach students techniques to handle stress through yoga and breathing exercises, a program that brings in recent alumni to talk about life after high school and one that matches incoming freshman with adults so that they can meet throughout the year and get one-on-one attention, Herrmann said.

And it’s not just the administrators who are stepping up to help, but the students as well, she told Pitts.

“We want to make sure that everyone knows it’s okay to seek help if you’re feeling blue, down, anxious,” she said. “So, students have made sure they’ve written stories, they’ve done videos. Actually, some of our students teamed up to do a documentary.”

One of the students who wanted to share her story was Chen. As the editor of the student newspaper, she said she knew she wanted to do something to help, especially after seeing how many media stories focused on why the cluster happened and not how to recover.

When a suicide happened after Chen started attending Gunn High School, “a lot of the media came in and were investigating and said ‘Why are these kids killing themselves?'” Chen recalled. “It was being prodded apart, like a wound.”

Chen said she came up with a new idea for sharing positive student stories after hearing Madelyn Gould speak at a community meeting about how the stories of recovery can reach those who are suicidal.

“We have research that shows stories about resilience and coping and dealing with suicidal thoughts in ways that are engaging … they are not only inspiring, they can prevent somebody else’s suicide attempt,” Gould told ABC News.

Chen said after hearing Gould speak, she knew she wanted to provide an outlet for students. “What about if we provide that in the student paper?'” Chen recalled thinking.

Chen started a new section for the paper this year called “Changing the Narrative,” aimed at having students at the elite school share essays of their fears and anxieties.

“The website went up and they said ‘Thank you for sharing it,'” she said of her fellow students.

Two other high school seniors, Christian Leong and Andrew Baer, at Palo Alto High School also shared their story in a documentary called Unmasked, talking about the pressures of academic life.

The school board last year approved funding so that two licensed therapists could be at both Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School full time. There have been multiple community meetings to address concerns about the high stress environment at Gunn High School and potential risks to students’ well-being if they take multiple advanced placement courses. The school board now recommends that students take no more than two AP classes.

In addition, Gunn High School started “block” scheduling this year — meaning the class period is longer but they have fewer classes in a day. And school officials are also working to combat “academic bullying” on social media so that there is a less competitive atmosphere on campus.

“Any time you are trying to intimidate, it doesn’t matter if it’s with strength or other things, if it’s intimidating others with academic strength it still could have a negative or harmful impact,” Herrmann said.

Dr. Meg Durbin, a family physician in Palo Alto, had three sons who attended Gunn High School during the first suicide cluster. The deaths galvanized her and others in the medical community to make mental health a consistent topic, she told ABC News, noting that students have learned to expect questions about their mental health during every checkup.

Durbin helped co-found HEARD — the Health Care Alliance for Response to Adolescent Depression — and also helped create a program to facilitate getting teens to mental health care providers.

Even in an affluent community like Palo Alto, “people are keen to have their health care covered by insurance. They’re not keen on spending a couple hundred dollars for psychiatrists,” Durbin said.

Access to child psychiatrists are rare across the country, creating a serious issue when teens experience a mental health crisis. To help cut down on the time it can take to find a provider, HEARD put together a vetted list of providers who will take on patients. They also have volunteers, who work with multiple families, to find care for at-risk youth.

She’s even had insurance companies call her to confirm that a patient is getting mental health care, Durbin said.

While there have been multiple steps taken to protect students, some groups had other recommendations about how to best help the students.

Teacher Marc Vincenti said he thinks there needs to be an epidemiological study into the suicides and more focus on the root causes for academic stressors. He started the “Save the 2,008” initiative, with more than 400 supporters, aimed at helping students in the district. The number 2,008 refers to the number of students at Gunn High School after the string of suicides happened.

The goal is to make sure “the environment that we send our kids to every day is more humane, is more forgiving, is more compassionate, and is more likely to serve as a safety net to those kids who are especially in despair,” Vincenti said.

Vincenti said he’s concerned that all these new initiatives give students even more work to do, and he wants people to focus on connecting with children and cut down class sizes.

Durbin and Chen both say they hope the community could become an example for others about how to combat a suicide cluster. Durbin pointed out that a tool-kit developed by mental health leaders in Palo Alto, including by members of HEARD, was adopted by across the state.

She said in her own family, one of the new programs has helped her son grapple with the past tragedy. Her oldest son graduated just two days after the first student died by suicide in 2009.

“He wanted to get out of there,” she recalled of his graduation. But now with the alumni program, he has reconnected with his old school.

Though suicide clusters can arise anywhere, Gould said a community can take concrete steps to diminish the risk of a cluster and that she has been “extremely impressed” by what Palo Alto has done.

“They have engaged the entire community to embrace their responsibility,” she told ABC News. “That is the first thing that is very, very effective.”

Resources for suicide prevention and mental illness concerns can be found here.

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X-Ray Reveals Lithium Battery Stuck in Toddler’s Esophagus

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) — X-ray images recently revealed a lithium cell battery stuck in the esophagus of a Toronto-area toddler had been the root of the tot’s seemingly mysterious weeklong pain and discomfort.

For nearly all of last week, 2-year-old Katie Smith, was gagging, coughing up phlegm and unable to eat, according to her mother, Christina Smith.

“We thought she was choking on a cracker at first, but my husband checked her airways and she was breathing fine,” Smith told ABC News Tuesday. “But she was gagging, drooling and holding her saliva, and she was crying and screaming, so we took her to a nearby hospital.”

A doctor suggested Smith’s 2-year-old had a flu or cold and sent her home, Smith said. She added that Katie’s symptoms persisted, so she took her daughter to additional doctors, for other opinions.

According to Smith, the first four doctors said Katie likely had a flu or cold, but a fifth doctor at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children ordered X-rays and discovered what was actually wrong: A small, circular, foreign object was lodged in Katie’s esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

“At first there were mentions of a plastic bottle cap, and then a coin, but then we got on the phone with an ear, nose, and throat specialist who said it could be a button battery,” Smith said.

Doctors confirmed the 2-year-old did indeed swallow a lithium button cell battery on Friday morning when they removed it from her throat, Smith said.

“We learned the battery had corroded and burned through the first layer of her esophagus, which doctors said has three layer,” Smith said. “There was some pus and swelling, but doctors cleared that up as well.”

The mother added that her 2-year-old was “very lucky” and is now “doing great.” Katie is now able to eat chocolate Popsicles and could start eating soft foods, like mashed potatoes, as early as tonight, she said.

Cases like Katie’s are apparently “not uncommon at all,” according to Dr. Blake Papsin, the chief of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at The Hospital for Sick Children. Papsin did not treat Katie but he is aware of her case as the department’s chief.

“Lithium batteries make up about 18 percent of the reported foreign bodies that kids swallow,” Papsin told ABC News Tuesday. “They’re everywhere. They’re in hearing aids, phones, toys and in so much of the new technology.”

He explained that the damage these batteries can cause when ingested range from none to death.

“For some, they might not even know they swallowed it because it went right through the stomach and out the other end,” Papsin said. “But when it does get stuck, it can cause corrosion. The electric current the batteries give off can produce toxic chemical reactions that damage and burn the tissue.”

Papsin said that if a battery remained in an esophagus long enough, it could have the potential to perforate right through into the aorta and cause death.

Smith told ABC Tuesday that she hopes her daughter’s story helps encourage other parents to always “stick to your parental instinct” because “only you know your kids better than anyone else.”

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