Review Category : Health

Your Body: The Risks of Plastic Surgery

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

Are you considering plastic surgery? I’ll tell you what you should consider before going under the knife after this.

Nearly 16 million cosmetic procedures were performed last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The top five operations included breast augmentation, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery and tummy tucks.

If you’re considering plastic surgery, here’s what you should know before going under the knife:

  • Always go to a board certified plastic surgeon.
  • Be clear and realistic about your expectations.
  • If your surgery will take place at a surgery center, make sure there will be a board-certified anesthesiologist there taking care of you.
  • Remember that even with the best care, complications can occur, so be sure your decision to have surgery is for you and no one else.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Posting Back-to-School Photos

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As children head back to school, the temptation to share your excitement with a first day photo on social media is understandable.

But Donna Rice Hughes, the president & CEO of Enough Is Enough, a non-profit organization that seeks to maximize Internet safety for children and families, is urging parents to think carefully about the information they post.

First and foremost, Hughes encourages parents to double check their privacy settings, and make sure that only friends can view their posts. But, she notes, private posts can still be shared outside of the protected network.

As a rule of thumb: “Don’t assume that any information will not be shared publicly.”

Though it’s become popular to post photos of kids posing with a sign including information like their name, age, grade, school district, favorite activities and some other cute factoids, Hughes recommends keeping details to a minimum.

“Think before you post, nothing is truly private,” Hughes said. “There are unsafe people online.”

For that reason, if you feel inclined to share information about your rising star on social media, Hughes suggests keeping it to grade only, and not mentioning details like school district, which could disclose where your child can be found.

“The more information you give [predators], the easier you make it for them to find your child,” she added.

As parents adjust to the ever-evolving Internet, Hughes reminds us that staying safe online is a team effort.

“If you see a friend not being as careful, warn them,” she said. “We need to help protect each other and help protect each others kids.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Achoo! See the Anatomy of a Sneeze

The New England Journal of Medicine(NEW YORK) — Just in time for cold and flu season, MIT researchers are showing you exactly what a sneeze looks like in slow motion.

Lydia Bourouiba, of the MIT Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory, managed to film a real live sneeze at 1,000 frames per second.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the sneeze cloud shows how quickly sneeze droplets can travel.

Bourouiba reported that large droplets tended to land within 1 to 2 meters (about 3 to 6 feet) and that small droplets could get as far as 6 to 8 meters away (19 to 26 feet). She found that the sneeze itself transitions into a “freely evolving turbulent puff cloud” as it travels through the air.

All the more proof that you should absolutely cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze.

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Back to School: Tech Tool to Help Kids Develop Emotional Intelligence

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Getting students to apply themselves in school isn’t always easy. As the summer ends and thoughts turn to a return to school and classes, some parents may be wondering how to help their children fall in love with learning from a young age.

It turns out that there may be an app for that.

Q Wunder, an app launching in September, uses games, fun, songs and celebrity interviews to try to teach the critical skills children need.

“There are decades of research show that social and emotional skills are a stronger correlate to school readiness and to life success,” said Sofia Dickens, the founder of EQtainment/Q Wunder.

Dickens said the app teaches children discipline, grit, resilience, focus, problem-solving skills as well as how to make eye contact and cope with everyday social situations.

Liz Kolb, an education technology specialist and professor at the University of Michigan School of Business, explained the significance of learning those skills early on.

“In kindergarten … preschool, they focus on social needs, emotional needs of children. In particular, they focus a lot on things like cooperative play and working together,” she said.

And as the educational environment is changing for children, parents need to keep up.

Bibb Hubbard, the founder of Learning Heroes, which helps parents’ understanding of their children’s education, explained why, saying: “It’s really critical that parents are connected to what’s happening in their child’s classroom and know what they can do to help support their children at home.”

Data from “The Nation’s Report Card,” issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, shows that 33 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in math, and 34 percent in reading. But Hubbard’s organization says 90 percent of parents believe their child is at or above grade level.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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“Extreme Weight Loss” Chris Powell’s Tips to Get the Whole Family Active

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Extreme Weight Loss trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell appeared on Good Morning America Thursday with tips to get your whole family active as the new school year begins.

Powell, who, with his wife, Heidi Powell, has a combined family of four kids, said that when motivating kids to move, it’s important to keep the activities fun and to offer incentives, like time with friends.

The same is true for adults, according to Powell, who said adults should find activities they want to keep doing day after day and ones that offer incentives, whether it be weight loss or a better quality of life.

Powell led kids on GMA in a workout that used circuits to keep the kids engaged.

Try this workout with your kids and keep reading below for more of Powell’s workout tips!

Chris Powell’s Back-to-School Workout for Kids

We use these circuits for both fun and reward.

1. Fun: We set the circuit up and invite the neighborhood kids to come compete. Best time wins!

2. Incentivized: They must complete the circuit x number of times to earn 30 minutes on their electronics (iPod, tablet, gaming system etc). When 30 minutes is up, they can opt to do the circuit again, or find something else to do. When using the circuit as incentive, you must complete/beat a specific time to earn your reward!

Circuit 1: Around the World

Supplies: Exercise mat, medicine ball, two orange cones, two to three rolls white floor tape, two buckets and tennis balls, two benches or chairs.


2 x Over/Unders (climb over an obstacle, like a bench, then go under another, like a chair)

10 Push-ups

10-20 Walk the line (backward, forward, sideways “crossovers”)

10 Sit-ups

Fast feet through an agility ladder or tape on ground

10 Ball Squats (squat down to a stationary ball – you may bounce off of the ball at the bottom)

10 Ball Slams (pick up ball and slam it!)

10 Box Jumps (jump onto 12-15” box then step down)

1 Successful Ball Toss (must throw tennis ball into bucket from 10 feet away)

10 Cone Touch Shuttle Sprints (side-to-side shuffle)

Kick one soccer ball through cones (soccer balls lined up and cones)

Sprint to the finish!

**Times are marked and kept for reference, to compete against others or against yourself.

Chris Powell’s Bonus Tips

1. Body weight movements are the best form of conditioning for children.

2. Find what your child is passionate about and use that to motivate them to be active.

3. Kids should be careful when it comes to lifting weights and not lift any weights if they cannot handle their own body weight.

4. Have fun while being active with your kids and it won’t seem like a chore, for you or for them.

5. If your child loves electronics, have them earn time on them by being active and being outside.

These are suggestions only. Adults and children should consult their physician before beginning any exercise program.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Cincinnati Hit with Wave of 50 Heroin Overdoses in Two Days

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — First responders were reeling in Cincinnati after a mid-week spate of more than 50 heroin overdoses from Tuesday morning to Wednesday night.

Even in the midst of a drug epidemic that has made opioid overdoses an increasingly common feature in towns and cities across the nation, the wave of emergencies reported in Cincinnati took police, emergency responders and medical professionals by surprise, WCPO, a local ABC television affiliate reported on Wednesday night.

The 911 calls came from all over the city, WCPO reported, including one from the bathroom of an ice cream parlor, another from a McDonald’s, and yet another from the scene of a car crash caused by a man who had overdosed while driving.

Several of the overdose victims had to be revived, but one was not so lucky, turning the scene outside a local restaurant grim as authorities carried away the individual in a body bag.

“I am very disturbed about it,” area resident Richard Henson told WCPO. “It really saddens my heart.”

Police suspect a batch of heroin mixed with fentanyl, carfentanil or even rat poison may be to blame for the wave of overdoses.

Each of these ingredients is known to produce a greater high and a greater risk of overdose and death than pure heroin, said WCPO.

The deadly drug cocktails have even proven resistant to treatments like Narcan that have reduced overdose death rates. In at least one of the Cincinnati overdoses, the victim had to be given two doses of Narcan.

“I’ve got to say to whoever pushed this out on the street, this was the wrong thing to do,” Newtown police Chief Tom Synan, head of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, told WCPO.

“You now have the full and undivided attention of the Hamilton County Coalition Task Force, which includes local, state and federal agencies, and I can tell you we’ll all be working with the Cincinnati Police Department to see who pushed this out on the street.”

Police suspect the involvement of multiple street-level dealers in the extremely dangerous batch, with at least one giving it away for free, said Capt. Aaron Jones of the Cincinnati Police Department.

“Of the victims (Tuesday) that would talk to us and were honest in telling us where they received this heroin from, it’s from several different people … from several different areas,” Jones told WCPO. “Some of those were given almost as what we call testers — ‘Try this out and if you like it, you can get a hold of me.'”

Cincinnati is not the only area dealing with a sudden surge in overdose rates. A West Virginia town saw 27 heroin overdoses within four hours a week ago.

More than 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014, with opioids like heroin and fentanyl accounting for nearly 60 percent of that total.

The number of heroin users in the United States reached one million in 2014, a 20-year high, while heroin-related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000, according to a United Nations study published in June.

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Research Shows Links Between Obesity and 8 Additional Cancers

Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While obesity is often associated with a host of other health issues including high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack, a new study is examining how the condition is also related to cancer risk.

A review of several studies published today in the New England Journal of Medicine found new associations between obesity the development of eight additional cancers, in addition to others previously known.

Researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at more than 1,000 epidemiological studies and found that “excess body fatness” is also linked to the risk of developing gastric, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, ovarian, thyroid, blood (multiple myeloma) and brain (meningioma) cancers.

“I think the main takeaway point is that your health and specifically your body fatness is an important factor for many types of cancer,” Dr. Richard Lee, Medical Director of the Integrative and Supportive Oncology Program at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, told ABC News.

“Patients should understand that they can decrease the risk for developing cancer and improving overall survivorship,” by keeping their weight below obesity thresholds, he said. This information can help doctors advising patients on cancer risk, he added.

Researchers in this study also attempted to quantify the risk for obese people to develop this variety of cancers. They found obese people had 1.8 times the risk for developing liver cancer, 4.8 times as high for esophageal adenocarcinoma, and 7.1 times as high for uterine cancer. They also confirmed that for some of these cancers, as your weight goes up, so does the risk.

People may not always connect being overweight to cancer risk in the manner they associate drinking or smoking with increased risk of cancer, Lee noted.

“The public hasn’t been educated enough that it is a significant risk factor,” he said. “I see patients who are interested in ways they can reduce overall cancer [risk]. I always tell them the first place to start is nutrition and exercise and physical fitness.”

This is one of the most comprehensive studies on cancer and obesity to date, according to Dr. Xiao Ou Shu, Associate Director for Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. He believes it could help educate the public that being overweight isn’t only about cardiac problems.

“I think that the public has been informed about the potential risk for cancer associated with obesity, but there has been much more information disseminated about cardiovascular disease risk than cancer risk,” Ou Shu told ABC News.

One positive discovery from this study the authors found is that obese people who lose weight appear to reduce their cancer risk.

“Lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, in addition to not smoking, can have a significant impact on reducing cancer risk,” Graham Colditz, MD, Dr PH and deputy director of the School of Public Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who chaired the IARC Working Group, said in a statement. “Public health efforts to combat cancer should focus on these things that people have some control over.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Senate Calls for EpiPen Maker to Testify About Price Hike

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging are calling for Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, to brief members of Congress about the drastic price increase of the medication since 2007.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill sent a letter to Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, asking her to explain why the price of an EpiPen has spiked 400 percent since 2007.

“We are concerned that these drastic price increases could have a serious effect on the health and well-being of every day Americans,” the senators wrote in a letter addressed to Bresch. “As leaders of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, we are particularly concerned that seniors have access to EpiPen® because, according to Mylan’s website, older Americans ‘may be at an increased risk of having a more severe anaphylactic reaction if they are exposed to biting and stinging insects.’”

The senators told Bresch to come to Capitol Hill “at a mutually convenient time no later than two weeks from today.”

The company has come under fire in recent days over the cost of the popular EpiPen, the most common epinephrine injector on the market. Other members of Congress, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Richard Blumentahl of Connecticut, have written to Mylan about their concerns.

Today, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a statement calling the price hike “outrageous.”

“I believe that our pharmaceutical and biotech industries can be an incredible source of American innovation, giving us revolutionary treatments for debilitating diseases,” she said in a statement. “But it’s wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them.”

A Mylan spokeswoman told ABC News the company plans on meeting with members of Congress.

“We have reached out to every member of Congress who has sent us a letter, including Sen. Blumenthal, and we look forward to meeting with them and responding to their questions as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman told ABC News.

In 2007, when Mylan Pharmaceuticals took over producing the drug from Merck, the cash price of the pens was about $50, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Today, the cost of the drug is approximately $600 according to Good RX, which posts drug prices at pharmacies across the country.

The American Medical Association has also released a statement imploring Mylan to reduce the price of the drug.

“Although the product is unchanged since 2009, the cost has skyrocketed by more than 400 percent during that period. The AMA has long urged the pharmaceutical industry to exercise reasonable restraint in drug pricing, and, with lives on the line, we urge the manufacturer to do all it can to rein in these exorbitant costs,” AMA officials said in a statement today. “The high cost of these devices may either keep them out of reach of people in need or force some families to choose between EpiPens and other essentials.”

Mylan said it has provided 700,000 free EpiPens to schools and has given coupons to families who have trouble paying for the medication. However, officials said in a statement that they realize more needs to be done to help patients with high-deductible plans.

“With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise,” company officials said in a statement. “This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost. This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.”

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How a Severely Burned Former Firefighter Is Doing 1 Year After Face Transplant Surgery

Courtesy Hardison Family/NYU Langone Medical Center(NEW YORK) — One year after undergoing the most extensive face transplant ever performed, which was covered by Nightline in an Emmy-nominated special edition, Pat Hardison continues to thrive.

“I’m happy to tell you that I’m doing great!” Hardison, 42, said at a press conference at NYU Langone Medical Center on Wednesday. “I like to say I’m still the same old Pat, but that would not give enough credit to the amazing journey I have gone through this past year.”

Hardison, a former volunteer firefighter, was critically injured responding to a house fire on Sept. 5, 2001. The fire left him with severe burns that took his scalp, ears, eyelids, nose and lips. Without eyelids, Hardison was also slowly losing his vision.

Willing to take a chance to get his life back and feel normal again, Hardison underwent the face transplant surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. The procedure is so extreme and so risky that his doctors warned him he only had a 50-50 chance of surviving it.

Since receiving his new face from a donor, Hardison said his eyelids and ability to blink have greatly improved his vision.

“My family and I took a trip to Disney World this past June — and I swam in the pool with them. That’s something I had not done in 15 years!” Hardison said. “I now can, once again, drive a car, and I am able to sleep more soundly.”

Hardison has had follow-up procedures, including surgery to remove his feeding and breathing tubes, which he no longer needs, and to adjust his new eyelids and lips.

He hopes to meet the family of his donor, David Rodebaugh, and a meeting is scheduled for this fall.

“I would like to thank my donor family, who made the difficult decision to donate to me during a very difficult time in their lives,” Hardison said.

Renown reconstructive surgeon Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who performed the transplant and is the chair of the hospital’s Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, said he’s amazed by Hardison’s recovery.

Hardison has not had an incident in which his body attempted to reject his new face, and the amount of daily medications he has to take has been reduced overtime mainly due to the fact that he has not had a rejection episode.

“We are amazed at Pat’s recovery, which has surpassed all of our expectations,” Rodriguez said in a press release. “Most significant is the lack of a rejection episode. We believe this has much to do with the methodical approach we took in the matching process to ensure that Patrick’s donor provided the most favorable match. Doing so also has allowed us to reduce the levels of certain medications that Pat takes to prevent rejection.”

“No more stares from strangers. I’m pretty much back to being a normal guy, doing normal activities,” Hardison said.

After his accident during the rescue mission that left his face severely burned in 2001, Hardison said he thought he would never be the same again.

“It was terrible,” Hardison told Nightline in 2015, three months after the transplant. “I mean, I left home one day a normal dad, leaving to go to work, just a blonde-haired, blue-eyed — that had everything going, I thought, and just like that everything changed drastically.”

In 2001, Hardison and his second wife Chrissi were raising their three children in his hometown of Senatobia, Mississippi. At 27, he was a charming, successful salesman who ran the family tire business, but his real passion was working with the local volunteer fire department where he was a captain.

“It was my way of life, that was what I did,” he said. “I didn’t do it to make a living, I did it because I loved it…. At this department it’s different. It’s not like a fire department that volunteers, we’re a brotherhood.”

Hardison said he doesn’t remember much of what happened after he and three of his fellow firefighters entered a burning building to look for a woman.

“[My mask] was melting to my face,” Hardison said. “My hose [was] already melted.”

He pulled the mask off, held his breath and closed his eyes, which doctors say saved his throat and lungs from smoke inhalation damage and from losing his vision. He doesn’t remember exactly how he managed to escape the inferno but by the time he got out, he was unrecognizable.

“There was nothing left of his face to tell you who he was,” Bricky Cole, one of Hardison’s friends and another volunteer firefighter on-scene that day, told Nightline in 2015.

His friends rushed to save Hardison’s life, but they didn’t realize who they were working on until he was being loaded into an ambulance.

Hardison spent 63 days at the hospital recovering from the burns, and when he got home, Hardison said his three children — Alison, 6, Dalton, 3, and Averi, 2 — were terrified of him.

Even though Chrissi and the children learned to accept his scars, seeing their reactions was devastating for Hardison. He underwent more than 70 surgeries over the next decade to try to rebuild his mouth, nose and eyelids using skin grafts. He even got implants to help anchor prosthetic ears.

“There were no moments of hope,” Chrissi Hardison told Nightline in 2015. “I remember talking to the doctors and thinking I had to allow myself to accept that he would not look the way he did before. … Every time he would go back for surgery, I would think, ‘He’ll probably come out and look maybe like he did before.’ I had no clue, no concept of how severe it was even months into it.”

But each surgery only resulted in minor improvements. Unable to have what he really wanted — his old life back — Hardison spiraled into depression.

The cycle of surgery and painful recovery took a heavy toll on Hardison and his family, including Chrissi, who was caring for him at home. Even though they had two more kids after the accident, their marriage was strained, and for a time, Hardison became withdrawn and was addicted to pain medication. After 10 years of marriage, he and Chrissi divorced.

Later, Hardison started to consider an option that had only recently been demonstrated to be possible: a face transplant.

At the urging of a friend, Hardison sent his medical records to Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a pioneering reconstructive surgeon who had just completed the most extensive face transplant ever performed to date, replacing the face, jaw and tongue of a man severely disfigured by a shotgun blast. The 2012 surgery had been a success and Rodriguez was looking for his next patient.

In 2012, Rodriguez and his team began the process of vetting not just Hardison, but his family, friends and neighbors in Mississippi. Rodriguez wanted to make sure that Hardison fully understood the surgical risks, both the physical and psychological recovery, and that there was a possibility his body could reject the transplant and he could die. He also wanted to make sure Hardison was of good character and would be compliant with his post-surgery responsibilities, including medical appointments and daily medicine intake.

When the evaluations were finished, Rodriguez said he had found the perfect patient.

“Here’s a guy with a huge personality who just wants to get to the solution,” Rodriguez told Nightline in 2015. “He’s very gung-ho individual, you can see it. It’s his nature and he was ready to sign whatever it took to move this thing along. For patients like that, which we do value, it’s important for us to kind of slow the process down and ensure that they completely understand what they’re getting into.”

To move forward, they needed a donor, one that would fit very specific criteria. Not only were they looking for a donor that matched Hardison’s skin color, hair color and blood type, but the skeletal structure also had to be similar.

“The blood type obviously has to match,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t want any viruses. We’re not looking for any patient that has significant exposures, I.V. drug use and the like. We also look at tattoos, not so much that tattoos are bad, but individuals that get numerous tattoos, we’re concerned about contamination of any form. We’re looking for a patient that has not had any malignancy and no facial injuries. We’re looking at skeletal measurements we want them to match skeletally. We look at specific distances of their eyes or nose or mouth, the lips, so we’re very specific in a face transplant.”

Hardison was placed on New York’s transplant donor list in Aug. 2014, and Rodriguez and his team began working closely with LiveOnNY, the organ procurement non-profit organization that matches organ donors with patients in and around New York City.

In July 2015, Hardison finally got the call he had hoped for, but it meant tragedy for another family.

David Rodebaugh, or Dave to his friends, loved bikes. He worked as a bike mechanic and was an accomplished BMX rider. When he moved to Brooklyn from Ohio a few years ago, he found a new family in the bike messenger community and with a group who call themselves the “Lock Foot Posi.”

“It’s like the old Christmas movie, the old Rudolph movie, where there’s the Land of Misfit Toys,” said Al Lopez, who owns a bike messenger company called Cannonball Couriers and is one of Rodebaugh’s best friends. “And we’re all kind of like misfits from somewhere. Wherever we came from for whatever reason we’ve united over bikes…. It doesn’t really matter what you wear or how you ride you know like if you’re like. If you’re down and you’re like on the bike and you’re one of us.”

His friends said there wasn’t a trick Rodebaugh wouldn’t try or a bike he couldn’t fix, and he even won the Red Bull-sponsored Brooklyn MiniDrome cycling competition in 2014.

“Dave was a free spirit for sure and he loved what he loved,” Lopez said. “He loved bikes. He loved to go fast. He loved his friends, he loved this family. He loved adventure like, that was, that was Dave.”

In July 2015, Rodebaugh was riding without a helmet in Brooklyn when he crashed and hit his head. A few weeks later, he was declared brain-dead at the hospital. He was 26 years old.

His friends honored him with a memorial ride over the Williamsburg Bridge, and when a representative with LiveOnNY approached his mother about donating his organs, she accepted.

When LiveOnNY president and CEO Helen Irving informed Rodriguez that she had a potential donor for the face transplant surgery, the blood, genes and other features underwent a series of tests. When it was determined that it looked like a viable match, Rodriguez called Hardison in Mississippi with the news.

“When you look at the facial skeleton … they were only off by one or two millimeters,” he said.

On Aug. 14, 2015, Hardison was prepped for surgery and wheeled into one operating room, while the donor was wheeled into an adjacent room. Before starting, the surgical team held a moment of silence to honor Rodebaugh.

In a carefully coordinated surgery, Rodriguez slowly removed the donor’s face and scalp, including the outer skin, tissue, nerves and muscle, as the surgical team next door worked to remove the skin on Hardison’s face. With each step, Rodriguez updated the surgical team working on Hardison so that the two teams would remain in sync, and then they placed the donor face on Hardison. Among the trickiest parts of the surgery, Rodriguez said, was connecting the blood vessels.

“We got one chance to align to basically land this on the moon perfectly,” Rodriguez said.

In total, the surgery took 26 hours to finish. Rodebaugh’s heart, liver and kidneys were also donated, along with his corneas, bone and skin tissue.

Nine days after the surgery, Hardison was doing well, and he looked at himself in the mirror for the first time. His forehead and cheekbones began adding shape to his face, but he had to start the process of re-learning how to speak and swallow, two functions severely affected by the surgery.

Today, Hardison says the surgery has given him back his life. Hardison continues to share his story in the hopes that others with similar injuries may one day consider the possibility of a face transplant.

“I’m here today because I want others to see that there is hope beyond the scars of injury. I am especially proud to share my story with other injured firefighters and first responders, as well as injured members of the Armed Services,” Hardison said on Wednesday. “If sharing my story helps just one person explore the possibility of a face transplant, then it’s been worth it.”

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First US Child with Double-Hand Transplant Advises ‘Never Give Up’

Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) — The Baltimorean who was the first U.S. child to receive a double-hand transplant celebrated the anniversary of his life-changing surgery this week.

Zion Harvey, 9, went back to visit his doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this week, a year after undergoing the breakthrough surgery. Zion lost his hands and feet after contracting a life-threatening infection as a toddler.

Though he had learned to cope, doctors wanted to give him a permanent solution, making him the youngest U.S. patient to get a double-hand transplant in an operation that took 10 hours.

Zion and his doctors recounted his recovery this week, marveling at how far he has come in being able to use his new hands.

Immediately after the surgery, Zion spent a month in the hospital as doctors tried to get him used to his new hands. Dr. L. Scott Levin, director of the Hand Transplantation Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the boy never lost his charm or sense of humor despite the grueling therapy and rehabilitation.

“I think from an emotional standpoint he remains a remarkable young man,” Levin said in a hospital video released Tuesday. “There’s never been one iota of resistance or, ‘I don’t feel like it today.'”

The video also shows how Zion progressed quickly, despite hurdles in his recovery. He soon was able to pick up toys and even start using scissors within months of his surgery.

Since he lost his hands at age 2, he had had little practice with how to actually use them.

“For six years of his life that part of his brain was asleep,” Levin pointed out.

Levin told ABC News in December that doctors did have to recalibrate his drug regimen to better augment the immune suppressant drugs he takes for his hand transplants and because of a previous kidney transplant. But the setbacks didn’t keep Zion from gaining new function with his hands.

He was able to write a Christmas wish-list in time for the holidays and even do some arm-wrestling, Levin told ABC News.

“I [was] with him last night and while at a restaurant dinner table…he was able to pick up his bread and butter and eat it,” Levin said in December. “The point is we’re seeing continued functional improvement.”

Although he’s just 9, Zion is already hoping that his story will help other kids who’re struggling with health problems or other difficulties.

“I got one left hand and one right hand and they can always help me when I fall down,” he said in the video. “There’s one thing, if any kid is watching this and you’re going through a rough time, never give up on what you’re doing. You’ll get there eventually.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Zion did bring up an activity he still hasn’t been able to do: play football.

“She won’t let me try out for football,” Zion, who has prosthetic feet, told reporters, referring to his mother.

When she said he could play baseball and not football, the pint-size Zion piped up, “Why not?”

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