Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A New York dad who thought he had only two months to live recorded heartfelt video messages to be sent to his kids long after he’s gone.

Entrepreneur Jon Loew, who lives with his family on Long Island, suffered a violent reaction to an antibiotic in 2010, baffling doctors and causing permanent damage to his central nervous system.

“I was told, ‘We can’t explain why this is happening, but you’re deteriorating very quickly,’” Loew told ABCNews.com. “It affected every part of my body and brain.”

The 43-year-old’s first thought was of what would happen to his son and daughter if he died.

“I was sitting there saying, ‘I’m going to be dead in two months and my kids are 8 and 6,’” Loew said. “’Who’s going to guide them? What questions will they have when they’re older?’”

So Loew, an attorney, began recording videos he wanted his kids to see in the future — answering questions he thought they might one day have about life, work, marriage and parenting.

“Of course, I was concerned about missing my daughter’s wedding and my kids’ high school graduations,” he said. “But most of my concern was about what they would miss — who would be there when they’re down in the dumps.”

Luckily, Loew survived. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic finally linked his symptoms to the antibiotic and prescribed medication and physical therapy to revitalize him, he said.

But Loew continued to make the videos for his wife and two children, Sammy and Coby, and launched KeepTree, which allows other people to make videos they want to send to someone later in life.

The company has patents pending for technology that allows users’ videos to be sent automatically after they die or after a natural disaster.

“It started as a sad idea, but people have come up with the craziest uses for it,” said Loew, who has filmed more than 100 videos for his family.

He cited users who want to get the last word in with an enemy after they’re dead or employees who record themselves doing something their boss wouldn’t approve at work, with plans not to reveal the act until they’ve quit.

Videos can be sent to a recipient’s email at any time — whether it’s 10 days in the future or 10 years. Until then, KeepTree stores them so they remain private.

His kids have gotten in on the fun, too.

“My son recorded a video saying, ‘Hello me, it’s me. Remember, always hate Sammy,’” Loew said. “He’s reminding himself to hate his sister in 30 years.”

Loew called his collection of videos a “family archive.”

“I’m fascinated by communication through generations,” he said. “When you look at your photo albums, do you really know what your great-grandparents were like? Imagine if you could hear their voices. I’m guessing that there is someone who looked like you and acted like you 100 years ago. Wouldn’t it be cool to see that?”

KeepTree is free for users who want to send videos within a year. Users who want KeepTree to store their clips for longer than a year pay $2 a month. The company has about 25,000 users.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — Roger Pontz, from Michigan, is the fourth person to be fitted with a kind of bionic eye. He suffers from a degenerative disease.

Doctors spent four and a half hours implanting electrodes on his eye. Electrical impulses are transmitted from the retina to the optic nerve and then the brain, allowing him to see shadows and light.

There’s no sharp focus yet but doctors are calling this a game changer.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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iStock 360/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — How far would you go to ensure your baby’s name stands out?

At least five babies in the United States have been named Zzyzx, pronounced “Zay-Zix,” according to a check of Social Security Administration records by the website eBabyNames.com.

Participants in eBabyNames.com’s informal survey of 1,500 people agreed it was the strangest name they’d heard of in the last 15 years — and the competition wasn’t easy. The voters’ Top 10 included names like Nimrod, Lucifer and Jealousy.

While those names may make phonetic sense, Zzyzx wins the alphabetical game — if the alphabet were reversed, that is.

But the name is not quite as unique as you might think. A town and a road in San Bernardino County, Calif., carry the same name, according to eBabyNames.com. The site said the place name is rumored to mean “the last place on earth” — just as the baby name likely would be last on an alphabetically organized list.

Parents playing the alphabet game may not be unheard of. Survey respondents told eBabyNames.com they had heard of babies named Abcde, pronounced AB-sid-ee, according to the website.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Phil Burns/American Preppers Network(NEW YORK) — The words “spring cleaning” may conjure images of sparkling kitchen counters and dust-free closets, but there’s another part of your life that could use a clean sweep too, according to experts in emergency preparedness.

It’s time to spring clean out your emergency kit.

“We recommend doing it every six months and basically setting it as a tradition,” said Phil Jackson of the American Preppers Network, who offers tips on how to make sure your kits are up-to-date. “On Easter and Halloween is when I reset all of my bugout kits.”

A “bugout” bag, according to those in survivalist groups, is the bag you can grab in case of an emergency that has supplies in it to take with you for up to 72 hours.

The bag should have food supplies, including shelf-stable granola bars, powdered milk, jerky, dried soups, or freeze-dried meals, as well as water or water purification systems, clothing and emergency shelter like tents and blankets. Basic medical supplies and tools are also helpful.

The semi-annual check is a good time to throw out any expired food and replace it, Jackson said, as well as see if anyone has been dipping into the reserves and need to be replenished.

“Every time I do an inventory I find one bag that’s been raided for a granola bar or something, so I have a kid bag checklist, an adult bag checklist, and other specialty bags,” he said.

“Even some of the medical equipment, if you need it and it’s in a bag, you grab it. Having a checklist and doing an inventory is important so what you expect to be in there is in there,” he said.

As you’re doing an inventory on the children’s supplies, it’s a good time to practice emergency preparedness with them, Jackson said.

“At our house we have a plan for what to do if there’s anything wrong in the house, whether it’s a fire or you come home and the door’s open and see someone in there you don’t recognize. We have a basic evacuation plan,” he said.

“Do a drill with the kids when you’re changing out the bags, and that way every six months you’re going through your emergency plans and getting it fresh in their heads with drills,” he said.

Regular folks should have supplies on hand that fit the environment they’re in, Jackson said. So urban dwellers will have different equipment than those who live near mountains, and folks living in places with extreme summers or winters will have to update their kits for the coming season’s needs, such as hydration kits or fire starters.

It’s also a good time to update and laminate personal information sheets with names of family members out of state and their phones numbers that can be contacted in times of emergency.

Most importantly, Jackson said, is making sure that basic survival skills are being kept up-to-date.

“You can lose a skill very easily, especially when it’s particular, like how to dress a particular kind of wound. If you haven’t used it in a year or two it won’t be there,” he said.

“The most valuable training tool when it comes to disaster preparedness is your brain. So change out the physical environment but also make sure to freshen up your brain,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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ABC(NEW YORK) — It’s been 30 years since scientists announced the cause of AIDS: a shifty retrovirus that would come to be known as HIV.

More than 1,750 Americans had already died from the rare infections and cancers caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, health officials said at the time, and another 2,300 people were living with AIDS.

“The probable cause of AIDS has been found,” Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler said in the April 23, 1984 press conference alongside scientist Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute. “Not only has the agent been identified but a new process has been developed to mass produce this virus.”

The new process led to a blood test that could “identify AIDS victims with 100 percent certainty,” Heckler said. At least 80 Americans had already died from HIV-tainted blood transfusions since AIDS cases emerged in 1981.

The ability to produce large quantities of the virus also raised hopes for a vaccine, which government officials said could take at least two years to design.

“If a man thinks that he has eight months to a year to live and you tell him that it’s going to be two or three years before the vaccine comes out, you know, it doesn’t give him a hell of a lot to hold onto,” Bob Cecchi, assistant director of the New York City-based organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis, said at the time.

Researchers today are still trying to find a vaccine to prevent HIV, but advances in treating the infection have led to a steep decline in AIDS deaths.

An estimated 1,148,200 Americans are living with HIV, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, more than 636,000 Americans had died from AIDS since 1981.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Michael Kovac/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Musician Ryan Lewis is spearheading a fundraising effort to build medical centers around the world to provide comprehensive health care and specialized HIV/AIDS treatment for the needy, and it’s all because of one case that hits very close to home.

Lewis, who is one half of the hit rap duo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, says his mother, Julie Lewis, has been HIV positive since she gave birth to her first child 30 years ago.

After giving birth to her daughter, Teresa, in 1984, Julie Lewis needed a blood transfusion.

“In that moment without anyone knowing it, [she] had HIV positive blood put into her body,” Ryan Lewis said. “At age 25, one year younger than I am right now, her life would change forever.”

She had two other children — Laura and Ryan — before being diagnosed as HIV positive in the summer of 1990.

“I was 32 years old, and I had three young children, ages 6, 4, and 2. I’d never thought about dying,” an emotional Julie Lewis said, speaking in a YouTube video about the initiative.

Each of her younger children had a 25 percent chance of being born with HIV, but they were both born free of the virus.

Julie Lewis herself was given only a few years to live.

“But you know what’s amazing? My mom never died. She lived,” her son said.

Julie Lewis founded the 30/30 Project to allow people all over the world access to the same high-quality healthcare that she received. The project is raising funds on the website IndieGoGo. As of Tuesday night, the campaign had collected $19,238 of a stated goal of $100,000.

“Life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS can be managed,” Julie Lewis said. “What people need is access…I was infected with HIV 30 years ago. And I never thought I’d be sitting here, 30 years later, talking to you.”

The announcement is timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the scientific discovery that AIDS is caused by HIV.

Macklemore voiced his support for the project. “Healthcare is a human right. That is what we believe. We want to see this idea put into action,” he said.

An estimated 34 million people globally have been diagnosed with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. Since the epidemic began in the early 1980s, the infection has claimed more than 33 million lives, according to CDC estimates.

More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with the infection but nearly one in six is unaware they are infected.

When AIDS was a relatively new disease, patients could expect to develop full blown AIDS within 10 years and live only a year or two longer. Now, with better HIV treatments, patients who start them before their immune system declines significantly have a much longer life expectancy.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Courtesy ONeill Family(NEW YORK) — When the O’Neill family threw themselves into fundraising to save 4-year-old Eliza from the fatal disease she was born with, they never guessed their viral video would reach people all over the world.

They certainly never guessed that their online plea would raise more than $500,000 in two weeks when it had taken six months to raise $250,000 through local fundraisers.

“It’s been fabulous,” Eliza’s father, Glenn O’Neill, told ABC News. “It’s going places, I don’t exactly know how. It was in Italy for a while, and Belgium and China.”

Eliza has Sanfilippo syndrome type A, a rare genetic disorder that causes a deadly buildup of heparin sulfate in her cells. Soon, Eliza will lose the ability to speak, her parents say. After that, she’ll lose the ability to walk and then she’ll develop seizures.

Most children with Sanfilippo type A don’t live far into their teens.

All forms of Sanfillipo affect one in 70,000 births, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Stories like this tug at our heartstrings,” said Mary Dunkle, a spokeswoman for the National Organization for Rare Diseases, explaining how funding for rare disease research is famously hard to obtain. “Most rare diseases are severe diseases or even life-threatening. On top of that, you have to feel responsible for finding treatment for a loved one or child. It just can almost be overwhelming. But we see families all the time really driving remarkable progress.”

That’s where the O’Neills and other Sanfilippo parents come in. They hope a pair of researchers will find a cure before the end of the year.

The researchers, Doug McCarty and Haiyan Fu of Nationwide Children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio, have been working on a cure for about 16 years. They’ve found a gene therapy treatment that works in mice, and they hope to try it in humans. But setting up a clinical trial takes money — about $2 million that they don’t have.

“From a parent perspective, until someone comes in and tells us a big company is going to pay for it, a hospital, or the government, we are left to go out and do it ourselves,” Glenn O’Neill said in. “There is no other choice. I think that is why people are connecting with this video and story.”

When 5K charity runs weren’t bringing in money fast enough, Glenn O’Neill said he googled “how to make a viral video.” With a bit of help from filmmaker Benjamin Von Wong, the O’Neills launched their video earlier this month. They hope to raise $1 million on their GoFundMe.com page in addition to the money coming in from local fundraisers.

If everything goes according to plan, a gene therapy clinical trial could start later this year, according to McCarty. Six children with Sanfilippo type B and nine children with Sanfilippo type A would get injected with a virus that serves as a vector to deliver new genetic material to their cells, hopefully allowing them to make the enzyme they need to breakdown the buildup of heparin sulfate in their cells.

“We don’t want the patient families to have unrealistic expectations,” researcher Fu said. “We don’t want to say it’s a cure now because it isn’t a cure until after the trial.”

The O’Neills know there’s no guarantee Eliza will get into the clinical trial or that it will work, but said they need to try everything they can for their only daughter.

“We don’t want to be two years from now and say as parents that we left anything on the table,” Glenn O’Neill said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) — Debra Messing has never looked anything less than drop-dead gorgeous.

You would never know it, but the Will & Grace icon, 45, recently made an effort to eat better for her health and it’s definitely paid off big time.

“About two to three years ago, I made a very, very big change the way I approach nutrition,” she told ABC News. “I think it made a big difference in how I look or at least how I’m perceived to look.”

She continued, “I lost like 20 pounds, it wasn’t my intention, that wasn’t why I made the change. I made the change because I was just tired all the time. For a long time, I just accepted that was the plight of a working, single mother. You’re juggling everyday.”

Messing admitted that she grew up eating “crappy foods.”

“I grew up on fast food and candy every day,” she said. “Pizza and french fries and burgers — I love food and I’ve always loved food. Vegetables were not a part of my life at all”

Now, she is focused and feeling the difference from head-to-toe.

“I’m just eating really, really clean healthy foods,” she said. “Obviously I knew there was an association between what I ate and whether I gained 10 pounds or lost 10 pounds, but it never really became a reality for me that it shows on the outside in your hair and skin and even the clarity of your eyes. I was just stubborn.”

Messing, who just filmed a new pilot The Mysteries of Laura, said she starts every morning with a green juice.

“[That includes] kale and spinach and celery and ginger and lemon and cucumber,” she said. “At least I know I’m starting my day and getting a big shot of nutrients that I need. I start out strong…For the pilot, I was shooting 15, 16, 17 hours everyday. I really depended on having that juice once or twice a day. It really gave me more energy. That made an obvious difference for me, in me feeling strong.”

Messing spoke to ABC as part of a collaboration with Zyrtec. Along with eating clean, the actress takes Zyrtec because of allergies.

“Allergies have been a lifelong struggle for me,” she said. “I’m allergic to everything. I’m allergic to pollen, grass, mold, mildew and dust. You name it and I’m allergic to it.”

Now with the proper help, Messing said she is grateful she can wake up in the morning without the constant fear of an allergy attack.

“I know I’m going to be okay, whether I’m going out to Central Park with my 10-year-old son to play soccer in the middle of the pollen vortex, or doing a Broadway play in a 100-year-old theater covered in dust,” she added.

Can’t imagine eight Broadway shows a week without #ZYRTEC in my allergy arsenal! #ad pic.twitter.com/KTlEKlVT4W

— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) March 14, 2014

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you could eat doughnuts without the guilt, would you?

Turns out, you can, almost. And there’s still a pinch of guilt, but only about one-fourth of the guilt you would experience after eating a typical doughnut.

Holey Donuts, the online-only doughnut shop, is about to open its first retail location in New York City. The store opens next month, but ABC News staffers got to sample a variety of the low-fat doughnuts fresh from the still-unopened store in a very unofficial, unscientific taste test. Could they be as good as the real thing?

In a word, yes. Or in another word, “amazing.” And still another, “fine.”

Every reaction to the doughnuts was a positive one, but enthusiasm varied considerably. One thing that was agreed upon by all: the doughnuts were far more dough-y than a typical doughnut. Comparisons were made to a bagel and store-bought French bread. “You know, the dough-y kind…not the crusty one,” one sampler said.

Another point made by several tasters: The doughnuts are sweet, but not too sweet. “Sweet enough,” as one photo editor on the informal panel put it.

Indeed. The company claims a “huge” online fan base for the treats it touts as “great-tasting donuts without the fat, calories and guilt.”

The company said its “exclusive, yet secret cooking process” results in a doughnut with a fraction of the fat of regular doughnuts: 3 to 5 grams of fat compared with 15 to 40 grams in others. The doughnuts contain no artificial sweeteners.

The store’s model will be an environmentally friendly green business with the concept of “nothing on display, nothing to throw away.” Instead of keeping shelves full of product, doughnuts will be ordered from a photo menu board. Customers will watch the doughnuts as they are being filled, frosted and boxed after placing their order. The store will also carry a line of natural juices from RAAW. There will also be green tea and the brand’s own fair trade “Simple Coffee.”

The store is in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village at 101 Seventh Ave. South. It opens May 4 and each doughnut will cost $3.85.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Fuse/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — A survey conducted for the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that 69 percent of respondents believe that health plans offered in the U.S. should automatically cover birth control.

Study researcher Dr. Michelle Moniz, an OB/GYN at the University of Michigan Medical School, says that the bulk of those supporting a birth control mandate are women, blacks and Hispanics.

The survey asked 3,500 people their opinions about what services should be required in health plans with about 2,100 responding to the questionnaire.

Eighty-five percent of the respondents want mandated mammograms, colonoscopies and vaccinations in medical coverage while at least three-quarters also support exams for diabetes and high cholesterol, mental health care, and dental care.

Ten percent want coverage for everything except birth control. This group is mostly made up of men, people over 60 and those without children.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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