Review Category : Health

Nine-Year-Old Twin Sisters Dance With Bone Marrow Donor Who Saved Them

(Michele Girtler) Elizabeth and Kathryn Girtler of Minnesota City, Minnesota, are seen here with bone marrow donor, Ingo Gruda of Munster, Germany, who saved their lives thanks to the non-profit organization, Be the Match. (MINNESOTA CITY, Minn.) — A pair of identical twin sisters from Minnesota were able to thank the man whose life-saving donation gave them the ability to be kids again.

“They fell in love with him right away,” mom Michelle Girtler, 43, of Minnesota City told ABC News Thursday. “They took to him like they knew him their entire life. It was emotional, all of us were emotional. Lots of tears, a lot of gratitude.”

Elizabeth and Kathryn Girtler, both nine, were born without any blood platelets because of a condition called congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia (CAMT). A bone marrow transplant to alter the girls’ DNA was their only chance for a cure.

“It meant that they didn’t get to be normal children,” Girtler said. “Bumps and bruises and cuts harmed them because they didn’t have the clotting agent to stop them from bleeding. Without the bone marrow transplant, their liver and everything was going to shut down.

“It was extremely dangerous,” she added. “They could’ve died from it.”

Girtler’s son, LeeRoy, 13, had tested negative as a possible donor match for his sisters. Elizabeth and Kathryn’s mother and father Brett Girtler, 45, could not donate bone marrow because they were carriers of CAMT, their mom said..

Just under four years later, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, signed Elizabeth and Kathryn up on Be the Match to be possible bone marrow recipients.

About 90 days later, Girtler received word that the girls had a match.

Elizabeth had the transplant first at the age of 3 in May 2011 and Kathryn followed at age 4 in June 2012. Girtler said doctors didn’t want to perform the transplant at once to avoid the confusion of two siblings with the same last name and same condition in the hospital together.

In addition, Girtler would have to divide her time caring for each twin.

This year, Elizabeth and Kathryn’s doctor, Dr. Shakila Khan of the Mayo Clinic, submitted their story to Be the Match in hopes of setting up a meeting between them and their then anonymous donor.

The man, Ingo Gruda of Munster, Germany, was flown to Minnesota to meet with the girls over four years after their transplants, Be the Match confirmed to ABC News.

The gala was hosted by the organization last week where the three got acquainted, and celebrated the twins’ good health.

Girtler said Gruda spoke to her family via a translator. “He had told us his story about when he got the phone call when he was at work,” she said. “He’s a construction worker and was on the scaffolding. He sat down and started to cry. That touched me.

“He said that someone asked if somebody got hurt and he said, ‘No, someone’s going to be reborn.’ For me, that showed he knew the meaning of what he was doing.”

Now, both girls are thriving and even danced with Gruda at the gala.

“My girls understand how sick they were,” Girtler said. “Elizabeth broke down watching a video montage of everything they’ve been through. They are very, very much 9-year-old little girls now; very typical. They’re rambunctious, swimming, playing with their brother. There’s really no words to describe being able to see your child live life. It’s amazing.”

Girtler hopes her twins’ story will encourage others to become donors.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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CDC Spent $2.5 Million in August to Increase Zika Testing Capabilities

Credit: WILL & DENI MCINTYRE/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention purchased about $2.5 million in supplies and equipment intended to increase its ability to test for the Zika virus in the month of August.

The CDC publicly announced the spending figure earlier this week, saying that the purchases were made to “help to ensure that states can meet the growing demand for testing and rapid identification of Zika infection.” As of September 8th, 732 pregnant women had shown some laboratory evidence of possible Zika infection in the United States and Washington, D.C.

That figure does not include 1,156 pregnant women who exhibited laboratory signs of the virus in U.S. territories, with many of those coming from Puerto Rico.

Currently, the CDC says, “relatively few labs in the U.S. are certified to test for Zika.” Because of that, many samples have to be sent to a local health department lab for testing, and if that local department doesn’t test for Zika, the sample is then sent to the CDC. Getting a result back from the CDC could take between two and four weeks.

For now, the CDC says it has sent materials to expand lab capacity to use the CDC-developed Zika test, with laboratories in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and nine Department of Defense labs receiving those materials. Equipment for a second Zika test was sent to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 16 DOD labs. All but two states have completed the process necessary to utilize that test, the CDC adds.

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Mom Calls Police on 3-Year-Old over Wearing Her Seat Belt

ABC News(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — When 3-year-old Camille Fortin unbuckled her seat belt during a recent car trip, mom Michelle Fortin decided to call in reinforcements.

Fortin, of Arizona, enlisted in the help of Scottsdale police, to teach her toddler an lesson in safety.

“Her safety was at risk,” Fortin told Good Morning America. “It was the first time she’d done it, but it was something that could affect her life and her health and it was not an issue I was going to compromise on and I felt like by me just telling her … it wasn’t quite getting through.”

She continued: “She knew she did something wrong, but to have another authority figure back up what mom was saying was really beneficial for her. She’s 3 years old and she’s learning the boundaries and she needs to know what’s right and what’s wrong and it’s my job to tell her that and to teach her and to raise her to respect authority. And so, any nervousness she felt toward the police officers were out of respect.

“It went really well,” Fortin added. “She promised to not ever unbuckle her seat belt again.”

Fortin said she called the non-emergency number for Scottsdale police. She later made and appointment with an officer and his partner who came out and spoke to both Camille and her sibling about the importance of buckling up.

Camille said she understood what the police officer was talking about.

“Yes,” she whispered during a Skype interview on GMA.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Depression Dangers

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

Bruce Springsteen has recently discussed his battles with depression, and revealed that he’s not alone and — fortunately — has a support system.

A recent study says millions of depressed Americans may be falling through the cracks, however. Nearly 3 in 4 American adults, who would meet the clinical criteria for depression, may not even be getting screened for it.

Here are some signs you may be depressed:

  • If you are having trouble sleeping — either too much, or struggling with insomnia.
  • If you’ve noticed a change in appetite.
  • If you’re not finding joy in things that used to make you happy.

If you’re experiencing these signs, ask for help. This is 2016 — let’s help drop the stigma regarding psychiatric or mental illness, and think of it like having high blood pressure. If you had hypertension you would treat it, right? There’s help for depression.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Authors of “Let Them Eat Dirt” Say Shielding Kids from Dirt May Not Make Them Healthier

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The authors of the new book Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World say keeping children too clean shields them from certain microbes that are essential for a healthy immune system, so children should be allowed to get dirty when they play.

The book’s authors — B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta — draw upon evidence that suggests allowing children to get dirty exposes them to healthy germs that can actually be good for them.

“If we miss out on that exposure, the immune system is not going to mature,” Arrieta, an expert in microbes and immunology, said in an interview with ABC News.

Failure to develop the immune system puts children at higher risk for asthma, diabetes and even obesity, the authors said.

Finlay and Arrieta say one of the best ways for children to get those essential microbes is for them to play in dirt. Children – especially those who are under 5 years old – should be allowed to play outside and get dirty, but within limits, they added.

“We do have to think a bit: let the kid lick the floor in your own house but not the subway station,” Finlay, a microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, said.

The authors also say it’s okay that parents allow other people to touch their newborns, and it’s also okay to let the family dog lick the baby.

“A dog will come and lick you and your kids. That’s good,” Arrieta said. “They are basically bringing in the outdoors into your home.”

The authors also say children don’t have to wash their hands after being outside and that parents shouldn’t panic if their baby’s pacifier falls on the floor.

“Put it in your own mouth … don’t wash it. Studies show that’s beneficial in reducing asthma and obesity” in children, Finlay said.

This is a little much for Melissa Willets, a self-described germophobe who has three daughters.

“I worry about what they touch and then put their hands in their mouth or their eyes,” she said of her children, who are eight, five and three years old.

Willets chronicled her germ fears for a blog on

“You don’t want to put your kids in a bubble. That’s not healthy for them either. But it’s hard not to want to protect them from germs,” she said.

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Study: Sex Ed Is Out of Touch with Teens Around the World

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s not that sex education in schools is a bad idea. But most kids apparently think it’s teaching the wrong messages.

An analysis of nearly 50 studies of students aged 4 to 19 in ten countries, conducted from 1990 to 2015, finds most of the kids feel current sex ed teachings are negative about sexuality in general, and are biased based on gender and toward heterosexuality.

“Young people report feeling vulnerable, with young men anxious to conceal sexual ignorance and young women risking sexual harassment if they participate,” the authors wrote in their summary of results. “Schools appear to have difficulty accepting that some young people are sexually active,” which puts sex education out of touch with many young people’s lives.

Pandora Pound, lead author of the review in the British Medical Journal, told ABC News, “Although we knew that young people were dissatisfied, the reasons for their dissatisfaction were less clear … We were surprised that young people’s views were so consistent across all the different countries.”

Health experts generally agree that classroom-based sexual education is a tremendous opportunity to help the next generation make informed decisions about their physical and emotional health. However, the study warns that unless instructors adapt their curriculum, young people will continue to disengage.

The study analyzed data from students in the U.K., the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Iran, Brazil and Sweden.

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Blue Bell Voluntarily Recalls Select Ice Cream Products Over Listeria Concerns

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Blue Bell Ice Cream said it is voluntarily recalling select ice cream products over concerns they could be contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

The company said in a statement that chocolate chip cookie dough in the ice cream could potentially contain the Listeria bacteria and cause infection. The dough was made by a third-party supplier called Aspen Hills Inc., Blue Bell said.

“No illnesses have been reported to date, but Blue Bell is taking this step because we remain committed to producing a safe, high-quality, great-tasting ice cream for you and your family to enjoy,” the company said in a Facebook post.

The ice cream was distributed in 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Aspen Hills Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The voluntary recall comes about a year after a previous Listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell ice cream led to the company’s recalling multiple products and temporarily shutting down production.

Listeria is a potentially dangerous bacterial infection that can cause fever, headache, nausea and diarrhea. It can be especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.

The recall affects the following products:

Blue Bell Ice Cream Half Gallons: Code Dates

Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 082618226

Blue Bell Cookie Two Step 080418222, 081818224

Blue Bell Ice Cream Pints: Code Dates

Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 081518242, 082418242

More information on the recall can be found here.

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Bride and Groom Nurses Sport Stethoscopes in Sweet Engagement Photos

iStock/Thinkstock(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) — A Tennessee couple posed for a witty engagement shoot this month inspired by their line of work as health care professionals.

Chelsea Tanner and Richard Harkleroad enlisted Good Focus Photography to document their love at Knoxville Botanical Gardens on Sept. 11. The bride and groom-to-be even sported their stethoscopes during the photo session.

“It’s a passion we both share,” Chelsea Tanner, 23, told ABC News. “We come home at the end of the day and share our stressors and the joys of being a nurse.”

“It’s a big part of our identity, it’s who we both are,” she said.

Chelsea and Richard met six years ago through mutual friends and became engaged on May 10.

The pair work at separate hospitals, both as critical care nurses. Chelsea is a registered nurse and Richard will graduate from nursing school at Lincoln Memorial University in December.

The couple will marry Sept. 3, 2017. Chelsea said she hopes to incorporate the couple’s shared titled of RN into her wedding in some way.

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Mylan CEO Defends EpiPen Pricing in Congressional Testimony

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Bresch defended her company’s decision to increase the price of the EpiPen during a hearing held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday afternoon.

“Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance,” Bresch said, explaining that under Mylan, access to the EpiPen product had expanded dramatically.

In his opening statement, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, accused Mylan of increasing the price “for no discernible reason other than to get filthy rich at the expense of our constituents,” and characterized the company’s business model as corrupt.

“After Mylan takes our punches, they will fly back to their mansions in their private jets and laugh all the way to the bank while our constituents suffer, file for bankruptcy, and watch their children get sicker, and in some cases die,” Cummings said.

Mylan has faced increased scrutiny for the price of its signature product, a portable auto-injecting device for emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions. The price of a two-pack of EpiPens has risen from approximately $100 in 2009 to around $600, according to medical literature and various pharmacies across the nation.

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UN Leaders Discuss Dwindling Options for Antibiotic-Resistant Diseases

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Antibiotic-resistant organisms have been a concern among health experts for decades, with fewer antibiotics being developed by major pharmaceutical companies and the effectiveness of available drugs diminishing.

On Wednesday, global health experts are sounding the alarm about antibiotic-resistant drugs in a meeting at the United Nations. The meeting to discuss antibiotic-resistant diseases is just the fourth time the U.N. has brought together heads of state to discuss a health issue.

“The misuse of antimicrobials, including their underuse and overuse, is causing these fragile medicines to fail,” World Health Organization Director Dr. Margaret Chan said Wednesday in her opening remarks. “The emergence of bacterial resistance is outpacing the world’s capacity for antibiotic discovery. … With few replacement products in the pipeline, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections, especially those caused by gram-negative bacteria, will once again kill.”

To bring attention to the state of antibiotic-resistant diseases in the U.S., researchers from multiple institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, published a review of medical literature in the Journal for the American Medical Association on Monday.

The researchers looked at databases, reports and previous studies that focused on antibiotic-resistant diseases. They reported three diseases that are increasingly of concern to health officials for becoming more antibiotic-resistant, including Clostridium difficile, gonorrhea and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

The rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases in combination with decreased production of new antibiotics has many health experts concerned that dangerous infections will become more and more common.

“We’re hanging on to a cliff with our fingers and our fingers are falling off one by one,” Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital who was not involved with the study, told ABC News Wednesday. “For some germs, there is nothing, and it’s not uncommon for us to find ourselves in a situation where we’re looking at a germ that’s extremely resistant [to current antibiotics].”

In the JAMA report, the researchers highlighted that there were 16 antibiotics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 1983 and 1987, while, in comparison, there were just two approved between 2008 and 2009. Five antimicrobials (which target microbes including bacteria) have been approved since the end of 2012 through today.

Here’s a look at some of the diseases and pathogens that most concern researchers in the U.S. today:

C. difficile

The bacteria Clostrium difficile is naturally found in the gastrointestinal tract but the bacteria has become resistant to multiple forms of antibiotics. As a result, if a person takes antibiotics, the formerly healthy amount of C. difficile bacteria can multiply, colonizing larger areas of the intestine and causing infection.

The rate of infections caused by C. difficile peaked in 2011, with nearly 147 infections per 100,000 people. The infection rate nearly doubled in just 10 years from 2001 to 2010, according to the JAMA report.

The report authors found that current antimicrobials can often successfully treat the condition, but that it reoccurs in 20 percent of patients. When these drugs fail, there are few options for patients besides surgery. Health experts are now turning to fecal matter transplants to treat severe forms of disease, according to the JAMA report. Studies of these transplants have found they are successful 81 to 94 percent of the time.


This common sexually transmitted infection is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which has consistently become more resistant to available antibiotics in recent decades, according to the JAMA report.

The disease is rarely fatal but infects 300,000 people every year in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of untreated gonorrhea include infertility, ectopic pregnancies and long-term pelvic or abdominal pain.

In the U.S., there is currently just one antibiotic treatment recommended by the CDC to treat gonorrhea. In 2006, there were five recommended antibiotic treatments, four of which have mostly been made obsolete by the infection becoming resistant to the treatments.


Publicized infections of MRSA helped bring attention to the rise of drug-resistant “superbugs” in the early 2000s, and the infection continues to be a problem today.

The disease is the second most common infection acquired in a hospital or similar health care setting and it leads to 11,285 deaths every year, according to the JAMA report. The naturally occurring bacteria can cause a dangerous staph infection if it enters a wound or exposed area. In severe cases, the bacteria can cause painful and dangerous infections in the bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves and lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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