Review Category : Health

Man Remembers Nancy Reagan for ‘Comfort and Love’ She Gave Him as a Sick Child

Eric Thayer/Getty Images(SEATTLE) — A man who came from South Korea to the United States as a small child to receive life-saving open-heart surgery, said Sunday he still remembers the “comfort and love” he felt from then first lady Nancy Reagan, who made sure the children traveled in style to the U.S.

Reagan, who died Sunday at age 94, met the children during a visit to South Korea with President Ronald Reagan in 1983, when she visited a medical facility in Seoul dedicated to helping children with heart defects. The two small, seriously ill children, Ahn Ji Sook, 7, and Lee Kil Woo, 4, were able to get the surgery they needed through the Gift of Life program and an American woman who lived in South Korea.

According the Reagan Foundation, Reagan “insisted” on bringing the kids on Air Force One to the United States, where they would receive each undergo successful open heart surgery operations at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island in New York. Reagan visited the children shorty after their surgeries.

After their surgeries, Woo and Sook, who aren’t blood relatives, were adopted by the same family in Arizona. They took the names Diana and Brett Halvorson.

Brett Halvorson, 37, told ABC News that there were about 900 children in South Korea on the waiting list for heart surgery. He said the Gift of Life organization wrote a letter to the White House asking president Reagan to bring some kids back during their trip to South Korea. Mrs. Reagan read the letter and she agreed to bring back two children.

“As I was only 4 years old, my memory of Mrs. Reagan is very vague,” Halvorson, told ABC News on Sunday. “But what I do remember is that I felt comfort and love from a woman that was a complete stranger.”

The children lived in Arizona until 1989 and then moved to the Seattle area with their new family.

“Around 2004, 2005, I was thinking about my life and life in general and what it all meant. .. One thing I knew was that I had to contact the people involved with my past and personally thank them,” Halvorson wrote in a 2013 article for the Gift of Life program. “I thought it would be easiest to contact Mrs. Reagan.”

Nancy Reagan Reunion in 2007

In 2007, Halvorson got a call from Reagan’s assistant, who invited him to the Reagan Library, and on October 27 of that year, he was reunited with the former first lady, giving him a chance to thank her.

“Words can’t describe my feelings to see her again in 2007 as I, at that time had recently found out the details of why and how she got involved with giving me a second chance to live. If I were to put into words my feelings, it would be grateful and blessed,” Halvorson told ABC News.

Shortly after his reunion with Reagan, he was able to reunite with his biological family in South Korea to make up for all the years missed with them.

Halvorson had worked in the family business and became an insurance broker, but now he works full-time for the Gift of Life program as the international spokesperson and ambassador.

“My mission is to raise awareness and help as many children as I can,” he said. “Back when I was born in South Korea, it was a developing country and the hospitals and doctors here weren’t able to facilitate children heart surgery. Now South Korea is considered to be one of the best countries for heart surgeries, so I have been bringing children from developing countries here for their heart surgeries. At Gift of Life, we use the metaphor, ‘a drop of water creates a ripple.’ I hope I can be one of those ripples that can spread out to other people.”

Halvorson is now writing about a book about his life story, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, his journey from South Korea to Long Island to Arizona to Seattle and back to South Korea. He is also writing about the role the Gift of Life organization played in saving his life. He does not have a title yet.

“They provide free heart surgeries to children in developing countries who don’t have the means to do the surgeries there,” he said. “The main reason for my book is to raise awareness about the enormous need for children born with heart disease all around the world. I want to share my personal story to bring that awareness.”

His sister, Diana, is now 40 and resides in Seattle.

As for the American, Harriet Hodges, who helped many Korean children get surgeries, she later got an award from the president for her work.

And as for Nancy Reagan, Halvorson said: “Whatever the statements about Nancy Reagan, whether it is good or bad, I can only express my opinion from my personal experience and that is, without her I would not be alive today. I know many people might not know the story of her saving my life but I hope that people will realize that for someone to be in some sort of power, their life is always scrutinized. Some might think she did this for political reasons, which might be true, only God knows, but whatever reason she did it for, I believe she reached out from her heart because she thought it was the right thing to do as a human being.”

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ABC News Correspondent Sara Haines Welcomes a Baby Boy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — named after their fathers, weighed in at 7 lbs. and 5 ounces.

Both Haines and her baby are doing well. Alec arrived ahead of the March 9 due date.

After Haines’ water broke, she and Shifrin walked their dog, Trixie, and Haines shared her experience from the hospital live on Periscope.

LIVE on #Periscope: We are having a baby!

— sarahaines (@sarahaines) March 5, 2016

Haines and Shifrin, who wed in November of 2014, reside in New York City.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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‘Girls’ Creator Lena Dunham Hospitalized After Ruptured Ovarian Cyst

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Girls creator Lena Dunham was hospitalized Saturday and is set to undergo surgery, according to a spokesperson for the actress.

“Lena Dunham has been very public with her personal bouts with endometriosis. This morning, she suffered from an ovarian cyst rupture and has been taken to the hospital,” her rep said in a statement Saturday. “Lena will be undergoing surgery at an undisclosed hospital. We thank you for your understanding and hope that Lena’s privacy will be respected.”

Dunham — who not only created the hit HBO series Girls, but also stars and writes for the series — announced on Instagram last month that she was taking time off to focus on her health.

Dunham, 29, added that she was going through a “rough patch” with the illness and that doctors told her to rest. “That’s a hard thing to do, but I’m trying, because all I want is to make season 6 of Girls the best one yet,” she wrote.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Bangkok Boat Explosion Injures More Than 50 Passengers

iStock/Thinkstock(BANGKOK) — At least 58 people were injured in Thailand’s capital Bangkok when the engine of a water taxi exploded as it pulled into a pier, BBC News reports.

The Khao Sod newspaper posted a video of the incident showing the crowded boat as it pulled into Wat Thep Leela pier. Clouds of black smoke are visible in the video.

Initial reports suggested that a fuel leak was to blame for the explosion, according to BBC News.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Whole Foods Pulls Pre-Peeled Oranges After Twitter Complains

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Whole Foods is pulling its peeled oranges from stores after customers on Twitter complained they were selling them in plastic packaging.

One Twitter user started an uproar on Thursday when a post she tweeted against the packing was retweeted over 70,000 times.

“If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them,” said the user.

If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them.

— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) March 3, 2016

Later Whole Foods apologized in a tweet, saying, “Definitely our mistake. These have been pulled. We hear you, and we will leave them in their natural packaging: the peel.”

@awlilnatty Definitely our mistake. These have been pulled. We hear you, and we will leave them in their natural packaging: the peel.

— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) March 3, 2016

In 2015, Whole Foods received backlash when the store allegedly sold “asparagus water.” For $5.99 a bottle, customers could reportedly buy 16 fl. oz of water that just had asparagus in it. The veggie water was eventually pulled from the shelves.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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South Carolina Toddler Calls 911 for ‘Help Getting Her Pants On’

iStock/Thinkstock(GREENVILLE, S.C.) — A 2-year-old girl from Greenville, South Carolina, recently called 911 for a unique emergency.

“She just really needed help getting her pants on,” said Deputy Drew Pinciaro, a public information officer for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.

Pinciaro told ABC News Friday that the toddler, Aaliyah Garett, called 911 on Wednesday afternoon. She said “hello” a few times before hanging up.

“Deputy Martha Lohnes was in the vicinity of the home, so she went over to make sure everything was OK,” Pinciaro said. “And well, the little girl came to the door with her pants half on, saying she needed help getting them on.”

So, of course, Lohnes did her job. She sat down on the stairs, helped Aaliyah with her “pants emergency,” and even tied her shoes for her, Pinciaro said.

Aaliyah’s mother, Pebbles Ryan, was at work at the time. She told ABC News that her father, Aaliyah’s grandfather, was shocked when Lohnes showed up at the door.

“My dad gave me a call and was just like, ‘Your daughter just called the police on me!'” Ryan laughed. “Then he said Aaliyah wouldn’t let the cop leave and was too busy hugging her.”

Ryan, 25, said she’s taught Aaliyah to call 911 for help or an emergency but she never expected her toddler would “call for help over getting her pants on.”

“I’m just grateful for the deputy and her kind, wonderful heart, though,” she said. “She really took the time out of her day to make sure everything was OK even though she knew it was just a little baby calling. That means a lot to me.”

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Eating Peanuts Early in Life May Reduce Risk of Peanut Allergy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Infants who eat peanuts within the first 11 months of life are less likely to develop peanut allergies, even if they take a break from eating the nuts when they’re older, according to a new study.

Called the LEAP-on study, it followed a study called LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) in which approximately 600 children were examined for peanut allergies. In the LEAP study, about half of the children avoided peanuts and the other half were advised to eat peanuts during their first year of life.

Researchers found out that among the children who avoided peanuts, 35 percent tested positive for a peanut allergy with a skin prick test, whereas among the children exposed to peanuts, just 11 percent tested positive for the allergy.

For the LEAP-on study, which was published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers examined 556 children involved in the LEAP study to see if there were effects of avoiding peanuts for a year later in life.

Researchers had both groups — those who ate peanuts early in life and those who did not — stop eating any peanut products for a year starting at age 5. About 18.6 percent in the peanut-avoiding group and 4.8 percent of the peanut-consuming group showed an allergy to peanuts at the beginning of the second study.

“The aim of our study was to find out whether infants who had consumed peanut in the LEAP study would remain protected against peanut allergy after they stopped eating peanut for 12 months,” Professor Gideon Lack, lead author of the study and head of pediatric allergy at King’s College London and head of the Children’s Allergy Service at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ National Health Service Foundation Trust, said Friday.

“LEAP-on clearly demonstrates that the majority of infants did in fact remain protected and that the protection was long-lasting,” he said.

The study authors found that there was no statistically significant increase in the number of children who developed a new peanut allergy after avoiding the nuts for a year. Three children from each group developed a peanut allergy by the end of the year.

The study authors said more work is needed to be done to understand how the amount of peanuts consumed affects allergy risk.

“We need more research to better understand the mechanisms behind the development and prevention of allergic responses to peanut, and how this might translate to other food allergies,” Dr. George Du Toit, co-investigator of the study and consultant in pediatric allergy at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement.

“However, it is reassuring that the highly protective intervention demonstrated in LEAP was not only safe, nutritionally favorable and acceptable to participant families but also sustained even with cessation of peanut consumption for 12 months,” he said.

Peanut allergy has been a growing problem in the U.S., according to the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

Dr. Lolita McDavid, a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said the study reaches some important findings.

“Why these studies are important is the global allergy to peanuts has been growing,” McDavid said. “This was not seen in the past. There are a lot of cultures where peanut is a staple in the diet.”

Parents who want to desensitize high-risk children to peanuts should talk to a doctor so that children don’t have a dangerous reaction to eating peanuts, she said.

“Talk to a pediatric allergist and they can do a skin prick test and you can find out whether they’re allergic or not,” McDavid said.

Exposure to peanuts in high risk children or those with signs of peanut allergies needs “to be done under a doctor’s supervision. You have to have an epipen available.”

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Rare Bacteria Outbreak Infects 44 in Wisconsin, Killing 18

iStock/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) — A deadly bacterial outbreak is being investigated in Wisconsin with at least 44 reported cases, killing 18 people, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The rare infection results from a naturally occurring bacteria called Elizabethkingia anopheles, which are found in soil, fresh water and reservoirs, health officials said. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, chills or redness on the skin.

The outbreak has primarily affected people over the age of 65 and everyone infected had a history of at least one serious underlying health condition, according to the Department of Health Services. State and federal health officials said they’re looking to find the source of the outbreak.

“Determining the source of the bacteria affecting patients in Wisconsin is a complex process,” State Health Officer Karen McKeown said in a statement this week. “While we recognize there will be many questions we cannot yet answer, we feel it is important to share the limited information we have about the presence of the bacteria, as we continue our work to determine the source.”

The 44 cases were reported from Nov. 1, 2015, to March 2, 2016, according to state health officials. A search for past outbreaks in medical literature suggests this is likely the largest-ever recorded outbreak of the bacteria.

Investigators used advanced molecular detection to pinpoint the bacteria as Elizabethkingia anopheles, which was discovered only in 2011, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who also noted that investigators are currently testing environmental samples, including water, to find the source of the outbreak.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said infections from this bacteria are rare but that they are more likely to occur in health care settings when the bacteria contaminates medical equipment.

“Outbreaks of Elizabethkingia have been associated with contaminated ventilators or contaminated [injectable] medication or tube feeding or something like that and then it gets into the blood stream,” Schaffner explained.

He said the bacteria can be particularly deadly in premature infants, who do not have fully developed immune systems. The bacteria does not spread from person to person.

There are usually between five to ten cases of Elizbethkingia in each state per year, according to a CDC spokesman, who said that the CDC has five disease detectives in the state currently and will likely send more staff to help stop the outbreak.

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CDC to Host Summit on Zika Virus in April

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will host a summit next month to develop a plan to tackle the Zika virus, the agency announced on Friday.

State and local senior officials, along with representatives from non-government organizations and several federal departments, will attend the Zika Action Plan Summit, which will take place at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta on April 1.

Those in attendance will “hear the latest scientific knowledge about Zika, including implications for pregnant women and strategies for mosquito control,” according to the CDC.

The agency says the goal of the summit is to “arm state and local leaders with the necessary knowledge and technical support to have a comprehensive Zika Readiness Action Plan for their jurisdiction, including plans for preparedness and response activities.”

While the CDC has seen no evidence of transmission of Zika by mosquito in the continental U.S., it says it is “prepared for the potential emergence of Aedes mosquitoes as early as April or May of this year, and could begin seeing local transmission of Zika virus to U.S. residents via mosquito as early as June or July.”

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Your Body: Bugs in Your House

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

You may think your home is clean but a new study finds that our homes are apparently crawling with bugs. In fact, researchers say insects live on every level of the home and in all room types.

So should you panic?

I kind of did, but it turns out it’s not as bad as it sounds.

The vast majority of the bugs we live with are not pest species, according to one of the researchers. They’re usually flies, beetles, ants, spiders and lice — mostly of the harmless, booklice variety.

So when should you worry?

If you are having any physical symptom that may be the result of chronic bug bites, such as itching, rashes or skin problems, and you’ve seen bugs in your house, it might be time to call an exterminator.

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