Health Headlines
Subscribe To This Feed

DebbiSmirnoff/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A company behind Jimmy Dean sausage has issued a voluntary recall of more than 29,000 pounds of product due to reports of "small, string-like fragments of metal" being found in the food.

CTI Foods LLC, a co-manufacturer of the sausage, said on Monday that "a few consumers" had reached out to the company saying they'd found the metal in Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links made with pork and turkey.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its statement that there had been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the links to the company.

"Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages... CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product," CTI Foods said in a news release posted on the Jimmy Dean website.

The Owingsville, Kentucky company said about 2,845 cases of the sausage had been made at one plant location on Aug. 4.

Each package has the establishment code M19085 or P19085 as well as a "use by" date of Jan. 31, 2019 and the UPC number "0-77900-36519-5." Cases containing the product bear the lot number A638216800 or A638216801, the company said.

CTI Foods said that no injuries had been reported with the recall. The company urged consumers who found the product in their homes to remove the UPC and date code from the package, throw out the product and call 1-855-382-3101.

"Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA," CTI Foods said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

benkayam/iStock(NEW YORK) -- What's in a name?

Well, according to the experts at Nameberry, not gender, at least for a growing number of parents.

Nonbinary names are a hot trend, according to the experts. But unlike the trend of names past, where a girl might go by the name "Charlie" or "Jamie," the names now coming into fashion are truly gender-neutral.

"Parents are not trying to make their daughters seem more boyish or their sons more feminine, but to give their babies names that help them transcend strict binary gender identity," Pam Satran, co-creator and CEO of Nameberry, told Good Morning America.

"These new names and new way of thinking about gender-neutral names is to sidestep the entire idea of gender in the binary sense of feminine and masculine. The names in this new ideal don't have any gender identity at all," she said.

"Rather than names that have been used over decades or centuries that have become identified with one gender or the other, they're newer names used for babies without regard to whether they're girls or boys."

She used the popular nonbinary name "Justice" as an example.

"Justice as a name can accommodate any gender identity the person chooses and can be fluid over time. That fits the new ideal."

The 10 most popular nonbinary names are:

Briar

Campbell

Finley

Journey

Justice

Laken

Revel

Robin

Royal

Story

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments





Subscribe To This Feed

Kelsea King and her two children. Courtesy Kelsea King(NEW YORK) -- Mom shamers can sit down now.

Because when you think about it, they will come for you no matter what you do. Breastfeeding? Don't do it in public. Formula feeding? How could you?

The truth is mom bullies will have something to say no matter what you do.

In a now-viral post, Kelsea King, a Tampa, Florida, mom of two, shared the wise words of her friend Alee Zering:

"Mom-ing is hard when breastfeeding in public is offensive but formula feeding is frowned upon, when co-sleeping is dangerous but rocking your baby to sleep is wrong, when sleep training means you don’t love your baby but not having your kid on a schedule means you have no control of your kid, when putting your child in a bouncer/walker is detrimental to their development but holding them too much is spoiling them, when being a stay at home Mom means you’ve given up your career / dreams but putting them in childcare and going back to work means you’re going to miss out on all of the important things, when getting kids their shots is injecting them with poison but if you don’t you’re endangering the world, when you’re trying to be confident in your motherhood but everyone wants to tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

Mom bullies are the worst.

So stop.

Just love, encourage, support, and give a mom a cup of coffee.”

Her post has been shared more than 13,000 times.

King told Good Morning America the post has resonated with so many because "we see ourselves in Alee [Zering]. We have most likely debated each topic she spoke on and have heard the mixed views from others. We have all seen or experienced some sort of 'mom-bullying,' many times on social media, so it is nice to see such encouraging and refreshing words from another mom for a change."

When she first saw Zering's words, King told GMA she "saw myself in each sentence." Her quote, King said, "reminds everyone that we are doing the best we can, there is no 'right way,' and there is no need to worry about the opinions of others."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Charday Penn/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New researchers found that women with heart attack symptoms wait approximately 37 minutes longer than men before reaching out for potentially life-saving medical care.

Watch the report from ABC's Good Morning America:

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

MJFelt/iStock(TORONTO) -- The holidays are a time that most people look forward to -- the festivities, the fun and a chance to see family. But new research from Toronto General Hospital shows that it may actually be a dangerous time for those discharged from the hospital.

Patients sent home from the hospital during the December holiday period are less likely to have a follow-up appointment, and have a higher risk of death and readmission within 30 days.

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), a Canadian group that conducts studies that evaluate health care delivery and outcomes, analyzed over 200,000 adults and children discharged from hospitals during the two-week December holiday period in 2002-2016. Those discharged during the Christmas holiday period were found to have a 16 percent higher risk of death or readmission within the first seven days.

In addition, those discharged during the holiday were also 39 percent less likely to have a follow-up appointment in the first seven days.

Finally, it was found that per 100,000 people during this time, there were 26 more deaths, 188 excess re-hospitalizations, 483 extra visits to an emergency department and 2,999 fewer follow-ups.

The authors attribute these results to limited access to outpatient care, difficulty in booking appointments and reduced levels of staffing. This, in combination with holiday festivities that often lead to excessive stress, increased drinking and lack of sleep can destabilize chronic medical conditions.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Courtesy Ed Dentel(RICHMOND, Va.) -- When Ed Dentel updated his Apple Watch on Thursday night, he didn't expect it to upend his weekend, much less change his life.

The 46-year-old communications consultant from Richmond, Virginia, does taekwondo with his family three times a week, bikes and skis frequently, and had no history of heart problems.

He said he'd installed the software update with the electrocardiogram app to play around with it.

"The application on the launch sounded off right away with atrial fibrillation -- not something I've ever heard of, but since I'm in pretty decent health and never had a problem before, I didn't give it much thought. I figured something was glitchy, so I set everything down turned in for the night," Dentel told ABC News.

On Friday morning, over breakfast with his 7-year old daughter, he put his watch back on.

"Right away: AFib. So I shut everything down and turned it back on and tried it again. Same result, same result, same result," he said.

He asked his wife to try. Hers came back normal. Twice.

"I put it on my left wrist, on top, AFib. I put it on my left wrist, on the bottom, AFib. I switch to my right wrist. Same thing. So, starting to get a little bit alarmed here," Dentel said.

Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib or AF, is a specific kind of irregular heart rhythm. If left untreated, it can weaken heart muscles and increase the risk of stroke.

Dentel drove to a nearby urgent care center. The parking lot was full, the waiting room was crowded, so he almost left, he said.

"I thought, 'This is silly. I've got meetings, I've got stuff to do. I don't have time to sit here and wait,'" he recalled. "But I looked down and checked the watch one more time, and it says 'AFib.'"

Checking in, Dentel said he felt like a hypochondriac explaining that his watch told him something was wrong. But he was quickly given an EKG by a technician, who called for a doctor, who said, "Yup, you're in AFib. This thing may have just saved your life."

"That's when I started learning about what AFib is and what its impact can be and how important it is to get notice of it really early in your life," Dentel told ABC News. "I talked to the doctor a little bit, and he was trying to decide whether it made sense to do an immediate transfer to a hospital."

Because of his relatively young age and good health, the doctor referred him to a cardiologist for an outpatient visit. After an exam, a review of the EKG and an ultrasound, his diagnosis was confirmed.

"I was dealing with a case of atrial fibrillation that I never knew I had and probably wouldn't have known anytime soon," Dentel said.

In fact, earlier this year, he'd had chest pain and was diagnosed with heartburn after an EKG produced normal results.

"So just as recently as late spring or early summer, everything was ideal and perfect. Sometime after that ... it kicked off," he said.

The Patient First urgent care facility did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. Dentel's cardiologist, Dr. Samuel S. Wu, was not immediately available for comment.

Apple declined to comment on this story.

What is atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

AFib is the most common kind of irregular heartbeat, according to the American Heart Association's website, which defines it as "the abnormal firing of electrical impulses causes the atria (the top chambers in the heart) to quiver (or fibrillate)."

The most common symptom is a fluttering heartbeat, while others include an abnormally fast heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness or chest pain.

AFib can result in heart palpitations, complications, weakened heart muscle, and an increased risk of stroke, said Michael N. Cho, a cardiologist at Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown, New York.

In Dentel's case, he had a rapid and irregular heartbeat, even though he appeared asymptomatic.

"It looks like my heart's a jazz drummer," he said, describing his EKG results. "I can be sitting there, and my heart rate will go from 70 to 90 to 110 and back to 60. When I look at my wife's readout on the watch, it's very nice and even and consistent."

Last week, Dentel's pulse, usually under 70, was 100 to 120, alarming doctors, who considered hospitalizing him. His blood pressure jumped to about 160 over 110.

AFib can be linked to smoking, alcohol abuse, high blood, obesity, which don't apply to Dentel, he said. He started medication on Friday and has follow-up appointments this week.

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest version of the company's smart watch. With this latest software update, all hardware versions can monitor heartbeats, but the user has to download the software and turn it on in the device's settings. Only the Series 4 can produce the EKGs. None of the devices can tell you if you are having a heart attack. AFib is a precursor to potential blood clots, stroke and heart attack.

Doctors said they're taking a wait-and-see approach with the new Watch.

"It is potentially helpful in these small instances," said Cho, who did not treat Dentel. "The incidence is higher as you get older -- if you had Apple Watches on 80-year-olds, you'd have a high incidence of AFib. If you have mostly 20-, 30- or 40-year-olds, you're not going to see that much."

Cho said he has not spent enough time or reviewed enough data to draw a conclusion about the Apple Watch, but said the fitness trackers do not always have the most reliable information.

"I have patients come in and tell me, 'My heart rate's 100,'" Cho said. "But when you put a more accurate monitor on them, you don't necessarily see the same data. With the Apple watch, we'll see."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Modern Family star Sarah Hyland is going public with her serious health struggles.

In an in-depth profile for Self magazine, Hyland, 28, reveals that she recently had a second kidney transplant after her first transplant was rejected. She also had surgery for endometriosis and a hernia. All together she has endured 16 surgeries.

Hyland was born with kidney dysplasia, which she says forced her to live a life where she says she was "always having to be looked after, having to be cared for." Because of her disease, her kidneys eventually went into failure and her father gave her one of his in 2012. But then her body began to reject the new kidney.

"Christmas break, New Year's, Thanksgiving, my birthday, all of that spent in the hospital," she said of her horrific 2016.

The next year included dialysis and another transplant, this time from her younger brother Ian.

"I was very depressed. When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault. It's not," she told the magazine. "For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn't want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad."

The actress wants others to know it's OK to ask for help during tough times.

"For anybody that wants to reach out to somebody but doesn't really know how because they're too proud or they think that they'll be looked upon as weak, it's not a shameful thing to say. It's not a shameful thing to share," she said.

More than a year after her second transplant, Hyland and her brother are both doing well. She has a new outlook on life but still deals with the pressures of being a famous actress and going public with her health issues.

"Being held up to this sort of pedestal of how you're supposed to look. Sometimes I have complete meltdowns in the middle of fittings,” she added, referring to her lower abdomen and how the transplant shows in certain outfits.

The surgeries for her endometriosis and her hernia came this year while she was recovering from the second transplant. Hyland said there most likely will be more surgeries but she's coping the best she can.

"That is a goal, to not just listen to my body more, but listen and do something about it because I tend to push myself," she said. "I’m stable. I'm thriving. I'm super happy with life ... I have the greatest family one could ask for. I'm on a show that is absolutely unbelievable and surreal."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ktsimage/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Christine Franke was a 25-year-old college student when she was shot dead in her Orlando apartment on Oct. 21, 2001.

Though DNA was left behind at the crime scene, years went by without an arrest.

The killing and the wait for justice devastated her mother and relatives.

"It's a terrible thing not knowing," said her mother, Tina Franke. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

But all that changed in November when a suspect was arrested after police say he was identified through genetic genealogy.

"After all this time, I wasn't sure we would ever find out," Tina Franke told ABC News weeks after the arrest. "They had DNA all along and just nobody ever matched up. I thought, you know, possibly he would be dead. How can you live 17 years under the radar?"

A new law enforcement tool arrives on the scene


Genetic genealogy only got on the public radar in April after the first public arrest through this DNA-and-family-tracing technique.

Since then, genetic genealogy has helped lead to 24 other suspect identification, according to genetic genealogy expert CeCe Moore.

Moore is a chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, the company that's worked on the majority of the cold cases cracked through genetic genealogy this year.

Parabon has made 23 successful DNA identifications this year -- including in the Christine Franke killing. Two other cases not connected to Parabon were also publicly solved this year through genetic genealogy, Moore said.

Through genetic genealogy, an unknown killer's DNA from a crime scene can be identified through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to a genealogy database. This allows police to create a much larger family tree than using law enforcement databases like the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, in which an exact match is needed in most states, CeCe Moore said.

"In a genetic genealogy database we can reverse engineer the [suspect's family] tree from their distant" relatives who have submitted DNA, Moore told ABC News. "So it doesn't matter that they haven't had their DNA tested through another arrest or crime scene, we don't need their DNA. We need somebody from their family to have tested in order to resolve these cases."

Parabon's cracked cases range from the 1986 rape and murder of a 12-year-old Washington state girl to the 1988 killing of an 8-year-old girl in Indiana, where the unsolved slaying had "haunted the community" for 30 years, according to the prosecutor.

But Moore called solving Christine Franke's 2001 killing the longest genetic genealogy case she has worked on, citing the suspect's large family and difficult-to-trace family tree.

Michael Fields, a detective with the Orlando Police Department who worked the Franke case, partnered with Moore this summer.

Fields said they began with two relatives of Christine Franke's unknown killer who had voluntarily submitted their DNA to GEDmatch -- a third-party genealogy database that permits people to upload their DNA -- to find other family members.

From there, tracing the massive family tree began, Fields told ABC News.

Eventually, Fields said he interviewed family members of the unknown suspect and zeroed in on one woman who had two sons in Orlando.

The woman voluntarily gave her DNA to police -- and that sample confirmed she was the mother of Franke's suspected killer, Fields said.

Investigators then narrowed the search down to one of the two sons -- Benjamin Holmes.

Police placed Holmes under surveillance and took a sample of his DNA from a discarded cigar butt, Fields said. The DNA on that cigar matched the DNA left behind by the suspected killer at the Christine Franke scene, Fields said.

The moment Fields learned of the match "was a feeling that I thought I would never have," he said.

And sharing the news with Christine Franke's mother was "more emotional than learning for myself," Fields added.

For Tina Franke, the news brought an overwhelming wave of relief.

"I couldn't believe it finally happened," she said.

When Holmes was taken into custody in November, he "denied having any knowledge or being near the crime scene," Orlando police said.

Holmes entered a plea of not guilty. His public defender, Robert Wesley, told ABC News, "We don't discuss clients or their cases without explicit consent and directions to do so from the client."

'Golden State Killer' opens the floodgates


The moment Fields realized genetic genealogy was the potential key to solving the Christine Franke killing was when he saw the April arrest of the suspected "Golden State Killer," he said.

The "Golden State Killer" case was the first public arrest this year linked to genetic genealogy, Moore said, though Parabon was not involved in the investigation.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the "Golden State Killer" was believed to have committed over a dozen murders and multiple rapes in Northern and Southern California, instilling fear in families, young women and suburban neighborhoods.

As the years went by, his crimes seemingly stopped -- but police kept investigating.

In the early 2000s, authorities obtained the unknown killer's DNA at one crime scene: the 1980 double murder of Lyman and Charlene Smith, who were bludgeoned to death at their Ventura County home.

Investigators then started reviewing rape kits -- which contained DNA samples from victims -- in other counties, said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

This year, investigators plugged the mystery killer's DNA into the genealogy website GEDmatch.

Based on the pool of people on GEDmatch, investigators built a family tree of the unknown killer’s relatives who had submitted their DNA to the database on their own.

Authorities narrowed the search based on age, location and other characteristics, leading them to 72-year-old former police officer Joseph DeAngelo.

Investigators placed DeAngelo under surveillance and eventually collected his DNA from a tissue left in a trash. They then plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo's DNA to the DNA gathered at multiple "Golden State Killer" crime scenes, Schubert said.

DeAngelo, accused of 13 murders and other charges, is awaiting trial in Sacramento County. He has yet to enter a plea.

His public defender declined to comment to ABC News about the genetic genealogy component of the case.

Privacy concerns


As genetic genealogy cracks more and more cases, its use is also drawing criticism from some civil liberties advocates who say it unfairly gives up the privacy of law-abiding people because of their family members.

"Our DNA is essentially like a blueprint to ourselves," said Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "DNA can tell us about hereditary diseases potentially, our ancestry... there are already attempts to tie genetic information to personality traits, to mental health, to other predictors of life outcomes. So giving that deeply detailed information over to government investigators is troubling in that it just exposes so much information about ourselves."

Eidelman said the use of genetic genealogy by law enforcement "compounds the privacy harms and concerns in terms of one person's genetic material actually disclosing information about so many others -- including people who are no longer alive, people who have yet to be alive."

"It's a frustrating position to be in, because we should be able to enjoy the benefits of technology ... without having to fear that that information will then go into the hands of the government or others," Eidelman said.

Eidelman said setting guidelines now for what is acceptable is imperative as the use of genetic genealogy by law enforcement increases.

"It may end up being the case when you're thinking you're sharing information for only one purpose, the reality may be that that information gets used for very different things than what you intended to share it for."

But Moore stressed that direct-to-consumer DNA companies, including AncestryDNA and 23AndMe, do not allow their DNA samples to be searched by authorities.

Those companies, however, do allow users to download their raw data. And third-party genealogy databases like GEDmatch permit people to upload their DNA information, making the samples widely available for searches -- and that's how genetic genealogists have been cracking these cold cases.

"The only way your DNA can be used for our purposes is if you go through the steps of downloading it and uploading it to GED Match," Moore stressed. "We're not using your DNA unless you've gone through that process."

"People give their permission when they go on our site," added GEDmatch co-founder Curtis Rogers. "We make it very clear to them that law enforcement is involved and if you have any concerns, do not put your information on our site."

"Privacy is not lost by anyone on GEDmatch. No DNA is visible on GEDmatch," Rogers told ABC News. "The people who would have their privacy lost would be someone who is a direct family member."

He said he's received emails from family members of criminals -- including the daughter of a serial killer -- who want their DNA included on GEDmatch to potentially help solve cold cases.

Moore agreed.

"A lot of people are uploading to GEDmatch for the expressed purpose of helping us resolve more of these cold cases," Moore said. "I understand the privacy concerns, but I think in this particular argument the good to society, to individuals, far outweighs the risks."

"For me, it's all about the families," Moore said. "We can't fix the damage ... we can only help give some answers and peace."

Tina Franke, the mother of slain Orlando student Christine Franke, said she's "all for" law enforcement's use of genetic genealogy. "Maybe it's not fair to invade privacy, but he invaded my whole life," Tina Franke said of her daughter's suspected killer. "He changed my life in the blink of an eye. And if it can help catch a criminal, that's more important to me than anything."

'It's going to be a game changer'


Now that genetic genealogy is in the hands of authorities, Fields, who called it "an unbelievable tool," predicts "it's going to be a game changer in how we do business."

But the Orlando detective added, "Not everyone is going to have the opportunity to use it, because it's expensive, time-consuming and it can be really difficult."

"I just hope that people use it and can solve as many cases as they can," he said.

To Tina Franke, genetic genealogy's biggest strength is its ability to give answers, and possibly closure.

"I hope it helps another family who is struggling with similar circumstances," Franke said. "I would want the same relief for them as we felt."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

RonBailey/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court Monday dealt a blow to two states' attempts to hamstring Planned Parenthood clinics by disqualifying them from public Medicaid funds.

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in two cases concerning moves by Kansas and Louisiana to terminate Planned Parenthood health centers from their state Medicaid programs. The decisions allow lower court rulings to stand.

While the cases do not directly relate to abortion rights, they have been seen as consequential for women and beneficiaries seeking to access care at the facilities – and for conservatives’ back-door attempts to hamper them.

A majority of lower court rulings, implicitly affirmed today, have said that Medicaid patients have a right to sue to challenge a state’s decision to remove their doctor as a qualified provider.

In February, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that states have broad – but not unlimited – authority to regulate Medicaid healthcare providers. "States may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit," the court said in its majority opinion, "especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides."

The Supreme Court's conservative justices, dissenting from the decision to deny a writ, said the high court should have weighed in on the question of who has a right to challenge a state's decision and on what grounds.

“It is true that these particular cases arose after several states alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in the ‘illegal sale of fetal organs’ and ‘fraudulent billing practices,’ and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a dissent, joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch. “But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act…. Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.”

Monday was the court's last session until Jan.4.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Courtesy Lisa Skinner(ATLANTA) -- One Georgia son is trying to fulfill his father's dying wish to go to the big game.

Steven Skinner, a father of four children and husband to his wife of 32 years, is battling for his life after being diagnosed with glioblastoma, an incurable type of brain cancer.

The 56-year old Navy veteran, who lives with his wife and son in Atlanta, has only months to live, according to his wife, Lisa.

His son, Andrew Skinner, 23, has started a campaign to raise money to help his father check off one of the last things on his bucket list: attending the upcoming 2019 Super Bowl.

His GoFundMe campaign, "The Commander's Final Send-off," was also created to raise awareness for the incredible life Steven has lived.

Since Andrew launched the campaign on Dec. 2, it has surpassed the halfway point of its $30,000 goal.

"My dad's been wanting to go to the Super Bowl for the longest time. He'll have times where he'll ask if I want to go and say, 'Hey if I'm able to get tickets for this Super Bowl do you want to go with me?' At least for the last good while, he's been saying that to me," Andrew told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Andrew has been by his father's side throughout the battle with cancer, leaving school at Xavier University to help his mother care for Steven. The couple also have a 'honorary son,' Daiyaan, who lives with them and helps care for Steven as well.

"Since he only has a few more months -- I know he has other stuff on his bucket list that he wasn't able to do -- but that's the one thing I know for a fact that he's been looking forward to and wanting to do his whole life," Andrew said.

With the upcoming Super Bowl being held in Atlanta, it would be easier for Steven to travel to and from the stadium.

"I figured I would at least see if I could do anything to try to help him get to the Super Bowl," Andrew shared. "I don't know if it's actually going to be possible or not, but I feel better at least trying and saying at least I tried than not doing anything."

Steven Skinner has been an avid sports fan his entire life. Originally from Monmouth, Illinois, he was an excellent athlete growing up, Andrew said. All-state basketball, baseball and quarterback of his high school football team are just a few of Steven Skinner's early achievements.

His athletic prowess and strong academics helped him advance to the United States Naval Academy. While he was at the Academy, he met the woman who would later become his wife, Lisa.

Skinner was a sophomore, and she was a freshman at nearby Immaculata College. They dated throughout the rest of their college years and got married at the Naval Academy about a year after she graduated.

The pair then headed to Long Beach, California, where Skinner was stationed while working in the Navy. He was deployed to the Persian Gulf for 10 months to work as a weapons officer during the second year of their marriage.

He served aboard the USS Rueben James FFG-57 in 1985. Four years later he went into the reserves, and through the reserves he reached the rank of commander.

Skinner later decided to enter civilian life to be with his family. He worked at several different companies throughout his distinguished business career, eventually becoming senior vice president of products & resources at a consulting firm, Cognizant Technology Solutions.

He was even named one of Consulting Magazine's Top 25 Consultants in 2015.

But his career and life changed forever in December 2017, while he was traveling in New York for business.

"Steven had been on a business trip for a day and was coming home,” Lisa Skinner said. She said he called her from the Delta Sky Lounge and said he was feeling funny.

"About a half hour later or so I got a call from the Port Authority on his phone that said that they were taking him to the hospital. They thought he had a mild stroke," she said.

"Once he was at the hospital, they saw a brain tumor," she continued. "It was too late for me to fly out, so I flew out the next morning to New York. Within an hour I signed everything and he went into surgery."

When Steven's 18-year daughter, Sarah, heard her dad had gotten sick in New York, she wasn't fully aware of his condition.

"I didn't think anything of it, like I thought it was pretty serious, but I thought he was going to be OK," she said. "Maybe it was something he could get over."

Then she heard the news from her mother that it was a tumor.

"She didn't say anything about it being cancerous or anything. She said it was just a tumor that could be completely benign or fine," Sarah said.

"I held onto that," she added.

Skinner spent three weeks in New York at Long Island's North Shore University Hospital, where he underwent multiple life-saving surgeries.

"They did 2 brain surgeries, one day after another -- not to remove the tumor -- but to relieve the brain pressure. Saved his life frankly," Lisa shared. "The surgeon here at Emory said that it was so unusual and most doctors wouldn't have been skilled enough to do it."

During one of the surgeries, the medical team removed part of his skull and placed it in his abdominal area, "for safekeeping," according to Mrs. Skinner. Her husband was able to return to Atlanta, wearing a helmet to protect his skull.

Skinner's company, Cognizant, got him a Learjet because the couple were having problems with their insurance when attempting to secure a flight. Lisa said the CEO just wanted to get her husband home.

Later that month, Sarah found out the gravity of the situation.

"Me and my mom were driving to pick up some food for Christmas and we were talking about my dad. I finally just asked her 'Did they figure out if it was cancer or not?' And she told me that the tumor was cancerous," Sarah said.

"She told me it was glioblastoma and that's like all she told me. I didn't want to hear any more about it. That's all I asked her," she added.

In April, surgeons at Emory repaired Skinner's skull, removing the skull piece and using a prosthetic piece of bone to make sure there was a 100 percent seal.

"I didn't even know they could do things like that," Lisa said.

Skinner went through chemotherapy and radiation for the glioblastoma, completing 2 rounds of radiation and chemotherapy pills up until recently.

"This last hospital stay they found out that the tumor has grown another branch of arms, so they did radiation on that," Lisa said.

Her husband is now in the in-home hospice stage.

"We're hoping to keep him home at least through the holidays, if not longer, but we've learned this year to just do short-term goals," she said. "That's our goal -- trying to get everybody under the same roof for the holidays, and then we'll reassess in January when the other two go back to school."

"In the back of my head, I knew the odds weren't good," Sarah said. "I try not to think about it. It wasn't until my family came up to visit me in Annapolis for Thanksgiving, when my mom told me that my dad only had a couple months to live."

Andrew's campaign to bring his father and extra family members to the Super Bowl stems from his desire to share what kind of person his father is with the world.

"Everything he's been through, from the military to working hard his whole life, if I can just spread awareness on how great of a life he's had -- because I feel like not enough people know how great of a person he is and all the great things he's done in his lifetime," Andrew said.

"I feel like he deserves it more than anyone I know," he added.

"He's literally done so much for my family. He's done so much for others. He has one of the biggest hearts I know. That's why we wanted to do something that he wouldn't forget and that he would really love," Sarah added about her father. "He's always been constantly working and constantly helping us."

Their mother shares the sentiment.

"He was somebody who was gone a lot, in a lot of ways, between the military and with his career, but when you came one-on-one with him -- you realize that he was a person that when he was there, he really just genuinely wanted to help you," Lisa said.

"I think that's why there's so many people that are coming out of the woodwork and sending us stories," she added.

Lisa said classmates of Sarah's from her high school, friends of Steven's from the Naval Academy and friends from his childhood are among those that have reached out to offer support.

"He's even had a childhood friend that flew out -- that he hadn't seen in years -- just to take us to lunch, he and his wife. Because he had told his kids how much over the years about Steven Skinner, the big guy in high school he played basketball with, and how much he meant to his growing up," Lisa said.

Despite the hardships the Skinner family has experienced since December 2017, Lisa believes some good has come from it.

"This year's been very hard for our family. It's brought a lot of changes and helped us realize what is so important," she said.

"I wondered for a while, why this year? Why are we having to go through this year when we're ending the way we are? But I told the kids that Steven is getting his wish -- he's seeing that Andrew is figuring out the type of man that he is and what is important to him -- that Andrew is rising above some of the challenges that he had recently to help his dad," Lisa said.

One of the things that Skinner said about Andrew when he realized the magnitude of his illness was that he wanted to live long enough for Andrew to realize the type of man he is, Lisa says.

Along with Skinner, Lisa doesn't take Andrew's incredible gesture of putting his life on hold for his father for granted.

"For Andrew to be home and help take care of Steven -- he's been such a very loving son," she said.

"My brother-in law-says that Andrew is determined to keep his father's dignity, so he's been doing things for his father that not only him but most kids don't even imagine," she added.

Skinner has also had the opportunity to see his son, Joey, 20, managing successfully in college, after struggling with auditory processing disorder, dyslexia and sensory problems throughout his life.

"To see Joey -- I call 'adulting,'" she shared. "The child that we struggled with -- with learning disabilities and other issues -- to see him living on his own apartment off-campus, going to school and taking care of himself, and cooking. He's doing a fantastic job."

Her husband has also gotten to see more of his daughter Sarah's basketball than he's ever been able to in his life.

"He doesn't like it when we say she's following in his footsteps -- he wants her to make her own path -- but I know it warms his heart to know that she's chosen the Naval Academy and she's excelling," Lisa said.

The family could never have imagined these past months of indescribable pain, but Lisa is finding the silver lining.

"It's been a gift in a lot of ways, this year," she said. "It's not been what we hoped for when we started this and were hoping to get Steven well -- hoping that he could get off the golf course like he loves and spend some more time traveling."

But the family has grown through the experience.

"Just talking and spending time with the kids, that's been great," Lisa said.

The Navy man has also had to meet the fact that he's had a tremendous impact on the lives he touched.

"I think he's realizing -- well he does know now -- how much people just like him," she said.

She's also learned something important about life through Steven's battle.

"It's funny how we're all so focused on accomplishments. He grew up being the jock and the academic ... he's good at business, he was good at sports, but I think what he's realizing and he worried about was -- was he a good person? There's a difference," Lisa said.

"The amount of money you make, the awards you get, the championships you win, doesn't necessarily tell you whether or not you're a good person. And to have this year for other people to take the time to do that and to tell him what's been most important to them and how he's impacted their lives, I think that's been a real gift for everybody," she added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Courtesy Greg SpierBY. DR. FORD VOX

(BOSTON) -- A Massachusetts family’s experience giving marijuana edibles to their dying patriarch is set to kick off a desperately needed investigation into how cannabis might treat some of the more troubling symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that affects 5.7 million Americans.

Alexander Spier spent three years during the Holocaust in Auschwitz and other concentration camps as punishment not only for his heritage but also because he had fought against the Nazis with the Dutch Underground. Spier was eventually able to emigrate to the U.S. from Holland in 1945, where he began working as a watchmaker and jeweler before moving into real estate and construction.

Today, Spier’s family runs the multimillion-dollar company that he built, Mayfair Realty & Development Corporation. They’ve also carried on his tradition of philanthropy through the Spier Family Foundation, which has supported a variety of medical research through different hospitals in the past.

Harvard’s McLean Psychiatric Hospital is one of those institutions supported by the Spiers. And now, it’s partnering with the family to research the potential benefits of medical marijuana on Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Spier died of complications related to Alzheimer’s in 2017. His final two years were characterized by rapid decline, which his son, Greg Spier, described as torturous.

“It was the most difficult time of my life, having to see him deteriorate. My father spoke five languages, and he was speaking Dutch and German, reliving the three concentration camps he survived,” Greg Spier said, recalling how his father often pleaded, “Where is my mother?” in German.
 Alex’s story is typical for many of the 50 percent of Alzheimer’s patients who develop so-called neuropsychiatric symptoms of the condition, characterized by agitation, anxiety, depression, psychosis, wandering and pacing.

For Alex Spier, the symptoms became too much to continue with assisted living, where he managed to escape twice. But even after his family moved him to a dedicated memory care program in Florida, where he was given supplementary care and a private attendant, his condition progressed.

Doctors resorted to aggressive medications, including a variety of antipsychotic and antiseizure drugs, but the sedation they caused — side effects of their use — only seemed to worsen his agitation and delirium.

In a decision that at first divided the family, Greg Spier and a niece who lives in Colorado decided to try marijuana edibles. The last-ditch effort involved Greg Spier, along with a private assistant, feeding his dad granola bar marijuana edibles up to four times a day during his final three months.

“The only thing that seemed to give him any reprieve was the marijuana,” Greg Spier said, adding that it allowed his dad to sleep.

 According to Dr. Brent Forester, chief of the division of geriatric psychiatry at McLean, the science of medical cannabis for dementia is far behind what families like the Spiers are already doing on their own. Alex Spier wasn’t his patient, but Forester was fascinated to learn about the family’s success with edibles last year.

Forester’s own research involves the synthetic THC drug dronabinol, an FDA-approved medicine for chemotherapy-related nausea and AIDS-associated weight loss, which can cost $400 to $1,500 without insurance coverage.

Forester and his colleagues have published promising study results after giving dronabinol to agitated and distressed dementia patients, and are currently recruiting for a larger multicenter trial funded by the National Institute on Aging.

It’s true that in teens and young adults, frequent marijuana use is associated with a lower IQ and an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. In adults who have been using it since adolescence, it has been found to erode memory and visuospatial skills.

But these negative impacts could be limited to young brains that are exposed to marijuana for extended periods, and they might not be true for people who begin in older age. When a team of German and Israeli researchers gave low doses of THC to old mice, for example, learning and memory improved to a level similar to young mice.

When these scientists examined the brain tissue, they found that the mice given the THC had more complex hippocampal connections. By contrast, THC worsened brain function in young mice.

More promising for Alzheimer’s disease, animal research has also shown that THC may increase the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, just like the FDA-approved dementia drug Aricept. THC also appears to slow the accumulation of amyloid beta plaques, the hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
Forester and his colleagues theorize that these protective effects — which result from the use of cannabinoid drugs — might reduce the risk of the abnormal behaviors associated with dementia. However, only time and research will tell.

The Spier Family Foundation is eager to support this work and is giving private dollars to fund it. Federal funding is difficult to obtain with marijuana still being classified as a schedule I controlled substance, defined as “having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

There are currently no FDA-approved drugs that treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia, which can become the most distressing aspect of the condition. Current drugs that are given to Alzheimer’s patients, such as antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, can even make their symptoms worse due to side effects, Forester said.

“We really need to open up opportunities to study medical marijuana for this particular indication. I think there’s enough evidence from the synthetic THC as well as anecdotal reports that it’s certainly worth studying,” Forester said.

The Spier Family Foundation’s willingness to fund this work is extraordinarily important, Forester said, adding that he was hopeful the medical marijuana industry will see the value in supporting such research as well.

Dr. Ford Vox practices rehabilitation medicine at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and contributes analysis to the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

GarysFRP/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The holidays are upon us and for many that means family time in the kitchen preparing delicious baked goods and maybe even licking the spoon before the cookies go into the oven. So the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a warning this week to, “Say No To Raw Dough!”

Dr. Todd Ellerin -- who admits he doesn’t bake -- said it’s the raw flour and uncooked eggs that can make us sick.

The Director of Infectious Diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts and an instructor at Harvard Medical School says,

“People may not be aware that flour is not treated to destroy bacteria and there have been outbreaks of a certain type of E. coli linked to the ingestion of raw dough,” said Ellerin, director of infectious diseases at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made 63 people sick.

Ellerin warned that “complications of this type of E. coli can include bloody diarrhea, need for prolonged hospitalization, and kidney failure, breakdown of red blood cells that carry oxygen.”

Additionally, raw eggs that are used to make raw dough or batter can contain a germ called salmonella that can make you sick if the eggs are eaten raw or not cooked enough.

Like untreated flour, eggs are safe to eat when cooked and handled properly.

Kim Powers is the senior writer for ABC News’ 20/20 and the published author of three books, but his true love may be baking.

“I basically got into baking so I could lick the bowl first. I did it first decades ago, when I’d lick the spoon when my mother was baking," he said.

"Now, I have a Kitchen Aid mix-master of my own, and have graduated to licking the entire bowl,” said Powers, the reigning, two-time baker-of-the-year for the annual ABC News office cookie bake off.

“It takes me back to good memories of childhood. That’s worth the risk of a little salmonella!”

We should point out that the CDC says Salmonella symptoms typically include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. In most cases, illness lasts four to seven days and people recover without antibiotics. Illness from Salmonella bacteria can be serious and is more dangerous for older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems.

Dr. Ellerin wants people to have a nice holiday season and doesn’t want to ruin Kim’s fun in the kitchen, but has a wish for one and all, “We are used to hearing Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas, but in the kitchen as we are preparing to make cookies, it should be Ho Ho Ho, please avoid the raw dough!”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Risto0/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alerting the public about the Asian longhorned tick, a species of tick not normally found in the United States that is known for its ability to mass-reproduce. Since its discovery in 2017, it has been spotted in several states, according to this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown,” said Ben Beard, Ph.D., deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in a press release. “In other parts of the world, the Asian longhorned tick can transmit many types of pathogens common in the United States. We are concerned that this tick, which can cause massive infestations on animals, on people and in the environment, is spreading in the United States.”

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the Asian longhorned tick, so here’s what you should know.

The Asian longhorned tick can reproduce much faster than other ticks.

The Asian longhorned tick can produce offspring at 1,000 to 2,000 eggs at a time, just like the more than 850 other species of ticks. However, the Asian longhorned tick is unique in that it doesn’t need to mate to reproduce — it can do so all by itself. As a result, when an infestation occurs, thousands of ticks can end up on an animal or person from a single tick.

Nine states have reported Asian longhorned tick infestations.

New Jersey was the first state to report the tick after finding an infestation on a sheep. But since then, eight other states — Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — have reported finding the tick on a variety of hosts, including people, wildlife, domestic animals and in the environmental.

Experts from the local to the federal level are working to prevent the spread of illness.

To better understand the full potential impact of this tick discovery in the United States, the CDC says it is working with a network of federal, state, and local experts who specialize in veterinary and agricultural science and public health. Their goals include determining where the ticks are located, the kinds of pathogens they might carry that could infect people and how often they bite humans and animals. They also plan to develop prevention and control plans.

“In other countries, bites from these ticks can make people and animals seriously ill,” said Dr. Sloan Manning, medical director of Novant Health Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told ABC News. “As of October 2018, no harmful germs have been found in the ticks collected in the United States”

Though Asian longhorned ticks pose a threat, you should be looking out for all ticks.

Ticks are already very common in the U.S., living in areas with tall grass or around animals. They can’t survive without feeding on blood, so when they find a host, they latch on and stay on.

Though ticks are often associated with Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis, Manning said that most of them won’t be carrying these illnesses. Still, it’s important to remove them as the longer they stay on, the more likely they are to transmit a disease — if they are carrying one.

“It takes several hours for a tick to transmit bacteria into the skin,” Manning said. “If you think it has been attached for more than 24 hours or if you’ve developed a fever, rash or other typical symptoms, you should seek medical attention.”

In most cases, however, “removing the tick using tweezers with firm pressure will do,” she added.

Here are some tips for avoiding tick bites:

• Avoid wooded, grassy or damp areas or places where you might encounter deer or other animals.

• Wear clothing and gear, such as boots, long pants, long-sleeve shirts and socks, that are treated with 0.5 percent permethrin.

• Apply insect repellent containing DEET onto exposed skin, and follow the instructions on the container. In general, repellents that contain 98 percent DEET will last about 10 hours, while those with seven percent DEET will last about two hours.

• Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks.

• Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body, including under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in the hair.

• Make sure your pets are treated monthly with flea and tick protection.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

omersukrugoksu/iStock(BUTEMBO, Democratic Republic of Congo) -- The second-largest Ebola outbreak in history has spread to a major city.

Butembo, a bustling city of almost a million people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is reporting an increasing number of cases of Ebola virus disease in the country's current epidemic. There has been a "significant increase" in infections there over the past three weeks, with a total of 25 confirmed cases thus far, according to Thursday's bulletin from the country's health ministry.

Butembo is a key trading and transport hub with links to other major cities in the country as well as to neighboring Uganda. It's about two times the size of the city of Beni, the outbreak's epicenter, and is located just 35 miles away. The health ministry said the "high density and mobility" of Butembo's population presents new challenges to containment efforts, already complicated by sporadic rebel attacks on remote villages in and around Beni.

Since the outbreak was declared on Aug. 1, a total of 471 people have reported symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in the country's eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, which share borders with Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. Among those cases, 423 have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which causes an often-deadly type of hemorrhagic fever, according to the health ministry.

There have been 273 deaths thus far, including 225 people who died from confirmed cases of Ebola. The other deaths are from probable cases of Ebola, the ministry said.

The ongoing outbreak is one of the world's worst, second only to the 2014-2016 outbreak in multiple West African nations that infected 28,652 people and killed 11,325, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the 10th outbreak and the worst the country has seen since 1976, the year that scientists first identified the deadly virus near the eponymous Ebola River.

"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing," the Democratic Republic of the Congo's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said in a statement last month.

The World Health Organization received approval to administer an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a "ring vaccination" approach, around the epicenter of the current outbreak. More than 40,000 people, including health workers and children, have been vaccinated in the outbreak zone since Aug. 8, according to the country's health ministry.

The vaccine, which was developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck, has proved effective against the country's previous outbreak in the western province of Equateur.

The number of Ebola cases in the current outbreak would probably have already surpassed 10,000 if it weren't for the vaccination teams, the ministry said Thursday.

North Kivu and Ituri, where cases are being reported, are among the most populous provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are also awash with violence and insecurity, particularly in the mineral-rich borderlands where militia activity has surged over the past year, all of which complicates the international response to the Ebola outbreak.

The security situation in the region has at times stymied the response efforts. Meanwhile, health workers are battling misinformation and mistrust from the local community, partly due to many years of conflict in the region.

There is a reluctance among some wary residents to seek care or allow health workers to vaccinate, conduct contact tracing and perform safe burials. That resistance has been expressed more violently than typically seen during previous Ebola outbreaks, according to the health ministry. A "fringe minority population" in these areas have destroyed medical equipment and health centers and have even attacked workers, the ministry said Thursday.

The epidemic is expected to last for "several" more months and the risk of spread will remain high until the outbreak is stomped out completely, according to the ministry.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Our Daily Deal

Get your $50.00 gift certificate for 50% OFF while supplies last!  You pay just $25!!!

BUY NOW!

Local News

WJTN News Headlines for Dec. 11, 2018

The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, with assistance from the State Police, are continuing to investigate a police-involved shooting that claimed a life Monday afternoon in the village of Fredo...

Read More