Review Category : Health

Top Health Officials Claim to Not Have the Money to Fight Zika

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Republicans say they will not approve increased spending to fight Zika, despite health officials describing the virus as “scarier” than first thought.

Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Republicans need more information before they approve the money to wage a war against the virus that is causing devastating birth defects.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, disagrees.

“We know exactly how we’re going to spend that money and hopefully, if successful, development of…a Zika vaccine,” he told ABC News.

The White House has asked for nearly $2 billion to detect and respond to the virus, test mosquitoes which spread Zika, and research vaccines. The administration says they’ve given Republicans enough information and now they’re just playing politics.

Republicans have already approved $600 million to be used in the fight against Zika, but health officials say it is not enough to get the job done.

“They are grasping in the dark for an excuse,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

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New Zealand Photographer Documents Children Growing Up Without TV

NIKI BOON PHOTOGRAPHY(BLENHEIM, New Zealand) — Can you imagine life without TV or your smartphone?

One mother of four, living in rural New Zealand, is raising her children without those modern electronics.

“We haven’t had TV since the eldest was an infant,” Niki Boon told ABC News. “So they don’t know what life is like with a TV and likewise with electronic devices.”

She’s capturing their stripped down childhood in an ongoing photo series titled “Childhood in the Raw” that features poignant black and white photos of her children playing on their 10-acre property in the Marlborough region of South Island, New Zealand.

Arwen, 6, Anton, 8, Rebecca, 11, and Kurt, 12, are seen playing outdoors, bumping into animals and exploring bodies of water right in their backyard. They’re also captured eating tasty treats and even crying.

The mother said she accidentally fell into documenting her children’s lives for a photo series.

“I started like all devoted mothers do, with [taking] photos of our babies to document who they become as they grow,” she explained. “But I think it was our decision to educate our children alternatively that documenting them took on a whole new direction and meaning for me.”

Boon said her children so far haven’t been limited by their lack of access to electronics.

“If we need to find information out, we use books and other tangible resources, and a lot of their learning is done hands-on in their environment,” she said.

Boon admitted that the family does have some electronics for convenience, such as “day to day appliances” and a computer.

“Electronics are in their lives by default, living in the world we have these days, but we encourage our children to turn their natural curiosities to the riches of tangibles like books, the outdoors, nature and our immediate environment as a whole,” she said.

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7-Year-Old New Jersey Boy Recovering From Brain Tumor Sworn In as Honorary Cop

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A 7-year-old New Jersey boy who made key chains for police officers while recovering from a brain tumor was named an honorary cop Thursday.

Darien Hoefling got a superhero’s welcome from police officers with the Mount Holly Township Police Department. The officers wore superhero shirts underneath their uniforms in honor of Darien, who thinks of the officers as his superheroes.

The first-grader was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer, according to ABC Philadelphia station WPVI-TV. While recovering from two surgeries, Darien made personalized key chains for the town’s police force.

“When he came to the police station to give us these key chains, I was just in awe; like he’s unbelievable,” Officer Debbie Brewer told WPVI. “Once I met him, I knew why everybody loved him so much.”

Darien wore a superhero cape that read “Super Darien 1, Brain Tumor 0,” during his honorary swearing-in.

“I had fun with all the police officers,” Darien told WPVI, adding that he is now going to “keep Mount Holly safe, too.”

Neither the police department nor the boy’s family has responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

But Darren’s father, Kyle Hoefling, told WPVI the boy is his hero.

“I want to be like him. It’s the only way to put it,” Hoefling said. “I always wanted to be his hero, but he’s now become mine.”

Darren is legally blind but still makes the honor roll at his school. The newly minted cop now plans to sell his homemade key chains for charity.

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Canadian Families Sue Sperm Bank After Learning More About Donor

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) — Three Canadian families are suing a sperm bank after they learned more about their donor.

According to the lawsuit filed this week against Xytex Corp and Outreach Health, the families said they were told Donor 9623 was highly-educated and healthy, when he was actually a diagnosed schizophrenic with narcissistic personality disorder.

The families also alleged that he had a criminal record of burglary, held no graduate degrees, and could have possibly fathered 36 children.

The lawsuit said that the sperm bank failed to investigate the donor’s claims and continued to sell his sperm, even after the issues came to light in 2014.

In a statement, Xytex said it looked forward to successfully defending itself in court.

The families are seeking $12 million in damages.

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Japanese Scientists Create Electronic ‘Skin’ to Measure Oxygen Level

iStock/Thinkstock(TOKYO) — Scientists in Japan say they have created a thin electronic “skin” that has the capability of measuring oxygen levels when stuck to your body, according to the BBC.

The Japanese researchers say they goal of the “skin” is to monitor the oxygen levels in organs when a patient is in surgery.

According to the BBC, the device has micro-electronic components that light up in red, blue, and green on the body.

The next step for researchers at the University of Tokyo is to find a way to display numbers and letters on the device to make it easier to monitor patients’ health.

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Girl Explains Her Autism During School’s Morning Announcements

iStock/Thinkstock(HOOVER, Ala.) — An Alabama fourth grader is being praised by her school of 450 students after giving a powerful speech about being on the autism spectrum.

Keira Meikus, 9, explained what it’s like having autism during her school’s morning announcements on April 7.

“She’s thrilled,” Keira’s mom, Sarah Charles of Hoover, Alabama, told ABC News. “I don’t know that she really understands the impact that she’s making. She’s still very young. She calls autism her superpower. That’s just part of who she is and that’s just one piece of her that makes her special.

“We are incredibly proud,” she added. “We knew she was made to shine and she’s shining at 9.”

Charles, 34, said Keira was diagnosed with autism when she was 4 years old.

“It was a difficult time,” Charles said. “It was very scary because I wasn’t sure what we would do. I wondered how life would be for her and if she would be able to do all the things we hoped for her and all the things her older sister could do.”

“She just found out a year ago that she had something called autism,” she added. “We never named it for her before then. She’s still learning about it.”

Keira, who’s a student at the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Homewood, Alabama, is not shy about having autism, her mother said.

In fact, she was happy to inform her fellow students of what it’s like being on the spectrum during a speech she delivered to the whole school last week for April’s Autism Awareness Month.

Keira’s speech read, in part:

“I have autism. I am like you. I go to school, I take tests, I watch TV, I like music and playing with my friends. I am also different than you. Some noises hurt me, I flap my hands when I get excited or overwhelmed. I don’t always make eye contact when I should, and I don’t always know when someone is being serious or joking…I can’t speak for everyone who has autism, but I’m sure most want what every typical person wants — to be accepted and to belong….”

Since Keira gave her speech, Charles said she’s heard from a bunch of fellow parents who praised Keira for her courage.

“My absolute favorite part of her speech is ‘I am like you,'” Charles said. “They [children with autism] want the same things. When you ask Keira what she wants to be when she grows up, she wants to be a mom … there are many similarities and it doesn’t always have to focus on the difference.”

“A lot of her speech therapy this year has been focusing on communicating with other people and socializing and she’s been working on it really hard,” Keira’s teacher Andrea Smith told ABC News. “It’s been a great step for her and to have the kids be so accepting of it helps them make sure that she feels included- to play with them and interact with them, which is all she wants in the first place is to be a part of the group.”

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White House, Congress Spar Over Funds to Combat Zika Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The political battle over funding to stop the spread of the Zika virus appears to be at a standstill.

The nation’s top health officials say they need nearly $2 billion to fight Zika, but the request is stalled in Congress, and now the White House and Republican lawmakers are shuffling the blame across Pennsylvania Avenue.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, said he needs more budgetary information from the administration to address the crisis.

“The question here is what will they use the money for, in detail, and when?” he said.

But the White House said it has provided Republicans with all the necessary details and that Republican lawmakers are playing political games.

“They’ve had ample opportunity to collect information to ask questions of senior administration officials, to read letters, to read the legislative proposal that was put forward by the administration,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during Friday’s press briefing.

Rogers, who has directed his staff to begin early work on a supplemental funding bill, said the American people will “absolutely” receive the necessary funding to fight Zika.

“I assured [President Obama] that we want to be helpful and that we’re on the same team here. We want to fight this disease but we’ve got to do it the right way,” he said.

In a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing, Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to attach an amendment to fulfill President Obama’s full Zika request to an appropriations bill that cleared the committee, instead including a measure to allow unobligated funds to be used for Zika.

Democrats, led by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York, are now calling for special session on Zika funding with health officials.

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Mother Hopes to Change Stigma Surrounding Addiction with Daughter’s Heartbreaking Obit

Courtesy Kathleen Errico(NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.) — A Massachusetts woman said she hoped to “reach one addict” by telling the story of her daughter’s overdose in her obituary.

Kathleen Errico, of North Andover, Massachusetts, wrote about her 23-year-old daughter’s drug addiction in the hopes she could reduce the stigma of addiction. Errico said her daughter, Kelsey Endicott, died of an accidental overdose after spending years battling her addiction.

“She had been sober for almost 10 months, but her disease still had a powerful hold on her,” Errico wrote. “We wish she had recognized the beauty and strength everyone else saw in her.”

Errico said she was surprised that the obituary went viral.

“I did it because I had suffered for so long and I had suffered in silence,” Errico told ABC News. “No one wants to shout from the rooftop that ‘hey, my daughter is a heroin addict.'”

Errico said Kelsey’s addiction issues started at age 13 or 14, and that she had been seeking help for years.

“I truly feel that she just grappled with something, something inside of her was broken at some point,” Errico said. “These people who are using…something triggers it.”

Heroin and opioid abuse have been a growing problem nationwide. In Massachusetts alone there has been an 18.8 percent increase in overdose deaths from 2013 to 2014. Nationwide heroin overdose deaths have tripled from an average of 1 per 100,000 to 3.4 per 100,000 in 2014. In February, President Barack Obama proposed devoting $1.1 billion to fight heroin and opioid abuse.

Kelsey’s addiction was so overwhelming that she lost custody of her toddler son after Errico called child protective services about her drug use.

“She wanted to get her son back and wanted to raise her son,” Errico noted. She said that Kelsey had looked for a rehab program for many months before she turned herself over to the court in an effort to get into a 28-day, court-ordered rehab program in 2104.

“It was very difficult for her to get the help for two reasons: the non-availability of the beds and [her] insurance,” Errico said.

Errico said Kelsey was really trying to beat her addiction.

“For 2 [sic] years she had not lived at home and literally transferred from program to program in order to get her life and son back,” Errico wrote in the obit. “She worked hard and fought the good fight eventually regaining custody of her beautiful baby boy Camden and finding that sobriety was a much better way to live, but the demon was still there.”

Errico said she hopes other families will be able to share their own struggles with addiction. And she wants strangers to think of her daughter as more than just an addict.

“She was a wonderful mother, she loved her son more than anything on the face of this earth,” said Errico. “She was funny, she was witty…but she grappled with addiction.”

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Doctors Use 3-D Models, Special Balloons to Separate Conjoined Sisters

iStock/Thinkstock(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) — Doctors at a Texas hospital explained Friday how they used 3-D modeling, injectable dye and special “balloons” to safely separate two conjoined sisters earlier this week.

Sisters Ximena and Scarlett Hernandez-Torres were born connected at the waist, sharing a colon and bladder — a 1 in 50 million chance — according to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital. After 11 months spent joined at the pelvis, the girls were separated in a marathon 12 hour surgery on Tuesday.

The sisters’ doctors talked today about the new technology that helped them with the complex procedure.

“If I had to use a cliché, it was like an orchestra,” said Dr. Haroon Patel, a urologist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital who treated the girls. “Everything just came together seamlessly.”

The doctors said they spent months studying the conjoined anatomy to understand how to best separate the infants. The girls were joined at the pelvis and had shared urinary and gastrointestinal systems. Their two pelvis structures were splayed open so that the girls were doing the “splits,” according the surgical team. The conjoined infants were two of triplet sisters.

Dr. Kevin Hopkins explained that to separate the girls, they used a profusion scanner, which allowed them to see how injectable dye traveled through the girls’ bloodstream and understand exactly how their system could be separated.

“I don’t want to make it seem like it was easy, but it certainly made our life easier,” Hopkins said Friday.

Scans with 3-D models of the girls’ internal organs were also used so that doctors could map out how to safely separate the girls’ shared urinary and gastrointestinal systems.

Additionally, balloon expanders were placed under the girls’ stomachs and slowly filled with water so that once they were separated, doctors would be able to use the expanded tissue to cover their wounds.

The girls were in surgery for a total of about 12 hours, but were separated after just three hours. While the sisters remain in intensive care today, they are in stable condition, Patel said. He explained the girls will likely need more follow-up procedures to help correct any problems or complications that may arise.

“They’re not out of the woods yet because there is a lot that still needs to be done,” Patel said.

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Your Body: Talcum Powder’s Ties to Ovarian Cancer

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

For more than 15 years, research has shown a link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder. The theory is that the pathway goes up into the uterus, into the fallopian tubes and onto the ovaries, potentially causing damage.

But what we don’t know is if it’s the talc or a chemical in the powder that’s causing the problem.

When it comes to ovarian cancer, here are my tips:

  • Don’t use talcum powder in your groin area.
  • Taking the pill, having tubal ligation or a full-term pregnancy can all reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are bloating, pelvic pain and an increase in urination.

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