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Study Warns Heart Attack Survivors of Risks of Taking Painkillers

Study Warns Heart Attack Survivors of Risks of Taking Painkillers

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Suffering a heart attack is bad but having another one is much worse.And yet, a new study says that some heart attack survivors may be putting themselves at risk for a second myocardial infarction or possibly a stroke by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain of muscle discomfort and arthritis.Dr. Charles Campbell, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Tennessee Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, wrote an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing that drugs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex, may be unsafe to use days, weeks or even months after a heart attack.While he’s not telling patients to just and grin and bear pain, he nevertheless recommends they scale back on NSAIDs as much as possible.The goal now, according to Campbell, is finding safer solutions to these common painkillers that will lessen the risk of internal bleeding that can lead to another heart attack or stroke.

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Millions More Americans Can Now Afford Their Medical Bills

Millions More Americans Can Now Afford Their Medical Bills

Andre Blais/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK ) -- More Americans under the age of 65 -- 2.9 million more to be exact -- are no longer facing the same difficulties paying their medical bills as they were a year ago, according to a new CDC report released Thursday. All told, nearly 8.8 million have achieved this level of financial security with regard to their medical bills since 2011. There are still 47.7 million Americans that have problems with paying their medical bills, according to the CDC report. That’s roughly 17 percent of the American adult population overall. Children are more likely than adults to be in families having problems paying medical bills, according to researchers. The researchers also found that Americans with private insurance have less trouble paying medical bills than those with public insurance, and they experience far less trouble than uninsured Americans. Racial disparities, however, have not improved. Non-Hispanic black Americans still fare worse than Hispanic Americans, and Hispanics still do worse than non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic Asians in the new report.

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How a Researcher Is Trying to Turn Tattoos Into Medical Devices

How a Researcher Is Trying to Turn Tattoos Into Medical Devices

Analytical Chemistry, 2015(NEW YORK) -- A California researcher is trying to turn "tattoos" into tiny "medical labs" -- with early prototypes able to monitor a person's workout or measure a diabetic's blood-glucose levels. A team led by Dr. Joseph Wang, chairman of nanoengineering at the University of California San Diego, first developed the fitness-tracker temporary tattoo designed to measure a key chemical on the skin that can give insight into a person's workout. The sticker-like "tattoo" was able to correctly measure 10 people's lactate levels through their skin using a special sensor in a small study published in Analytical Chemistry in 2013. The lactate chemical is excreted during exercise and, basically, the more intense a workout the higher the levels. A newer version also will be able to tell if an athlete is hydrated, Wang said. The tattoo fitness tracker is being developed for commercial use through the company Electrozyme, which claims it will be able to alert users if they need to re-hydrate or take in more electrolytes, or are in danger of overheating. "The hydration level will tell you the level of fitness and lactate will tell you muscle fatigue," Wang said of the new tracker. The product has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. More recently, Wang has been working to introduce another, more complex tattoo that could help diabetics accurately read their blood-glucose levels without using a needle. In a small study of seven people between the ages of 20 to 40, Wang and his team were able to correctly measure glucose with the tiny sensors. In the recent study, which was published in Analytical Chemistry, the volunteers ate a carb-heavy meal and then their glucose or blood sugar was monitored every 10 minutes for the next hour. To measure blood-sugar levels, the two tiny electrodes are able to use small electrical currents to pull out glucose from under the skin without breaking the skin. "The goal is to replace the finger stick blood [for] all the diabetics," Wang told ABC News. Wang said more work and research is needed, but the tattoo could provide a less invasive way for diabetics to read their glucose levels. Wang added that his team wants to incorporate fun imagery in the tattoos so that even young children won't mind wearing a small tattoo sensor. "In children, they don’t like finger stick...[so] we put Mickey Mouse over them," Wang said of the thin sensors. "They really like to play with this."

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“Super Bug” Linked to Antibiotic Use Kills Nearly 30,000 Yearly

“Super Bug” Linked to Antibiotic Use Kills Nearly 30,000 Yearly

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A stubborn, hard-to-treat “super bug” causes more than half a million infections a year and is responsible for nearly 30,000 deaths in the United States, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Wednesday. Clostridium difficile, or C. Diff, is a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the colon, the agency explained. The bacterium is found in feces, the agency said, and is spread by hand contact or contaminated surfaces. “C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said. More than 80 percent of C. Diff deaths were people 65 or older, with residents of nursing homes especially vulnerable to infection, the report said. Hospital stays and especially long-term antibiotic use seem to up the risk of C. Diff infection. “Antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut which fight infection, leaving space for C. Diff to come in and release its toxins,” explained Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert with Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. Studies show that more than half of patients receive antibiotics at some point in their stay, and up to 50 percent of antibiotic use is unnecessary. Over-prescribing antibiotics, combined with poor infection control, may allow the spread of C. Diff and other bacteria within a facility and to other facilities when a sick patient is transferred, the CDC report speculated. The CDC report said preventing and controlling C. Diff should be a national priority. The infection costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs, the agency reported. “You can fight it with hand hygiene, early diagnosis, isolating sick patients and curtailing excessive antibiotic use,” Schaffner said. Meticulously cleaning surgical instruments would also help, Schaffner noted. Seven people were diagnosed last week with another drug-resistant "super bug" known as CRE at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after undergoing endoscopy procedures with instruments that may have been contaminated.

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“Super Bug” Linked to Antibiotic Use Kills Nearly 30,000 Yearly

“Super Bug” Linked to Antibiotic Use Kills Nearly 30,000 Yearly

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A stubborn, hard-to-treat “super bug” causes more than half a million infections a year and is responsible for nearly 30,000 deaths in the United States, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Wednesday. Clostridium difficile, or C. Diff, is a bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the colon, the agency explained. The bacterium is found in feces, the agency said, and is spread by hand contact or contaminated surfaces. “C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said. More than 80 percent of C. Diff deaths were people 65 or older, with residents of nursing homes especially vulnerable to infection, the report said. Hospital stays and especially long-term antibiotic use seem to up the risk of C. Diff infection. “Antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut which fight infection, leaving space for C. Diff to come in and release its toxins,” explained Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert with Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. Studies show that more than half of patients receive antibiotics at some point in their stay, and up to 50 percent of antibiotic use is unnecessary. Over-prescribing antibiotics, combined with poor infection control, may allow the spread of C. Diff and other bacteria within a facility and to other facilities when a sick patient is transferred, the CDC report speculated. The CDC report said preventing and controlling C. Diff should be a national priority. The infection costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs, the agency reported. “You can fight it with hand hygiene, early diagnosis, isolating sick patients and curtailing excessive antibiotic use,” Schaffner said. Meticulously cleaning surgical instruments would also help, Schaffner noted. Seven people were diagnosed last week with another drug-resistant "super bug" known as CRE at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after undergoing endoscopy procedures with instruments that may have been contaminated.

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Peanut Allergy Study: Three Questions Parents Have

Peanut Allergy Study: Three Questions Parents Have

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In what could be a game changer, a new study finds that feeding peanut products to infants early may cut their risk of developing allergies. “Every once in a while a study comes out and you just say, ‘Wow, this goes against everything I was taught as a pediatrician and what I’ve been telling parents,’” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, said Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. The study, published in Monday’s New England Journal of Medicine, found that children younger than 1 who avoided peanuts were 80 percent more likely to develop full-blown peanut allergies than those who didn't. Besser said this is important information because the number of children living with peanut allergy has tripled since 1997, according to the advocacy group Food and Allergy Research and Education. Parents definitely have questions about the study, Besser said. Here are some of the questions they’ve been asking, along with what the study suggests.

 

@DrRichardBesser @kellyg377 Yes, But why the increase?What are the theories pointing to?Are Environ factors or changing genetics driving it?

— Daddy (@daddyblr) February 24, 2015

 

“One of the thoughts is that we’ve made the world too clean for children,” Besser explained. “Our children need to be exposed to things early in life so that they’re immune system tones down.” This so-called “hygiene hypothesis” proposes that when the immune system is introduced to possible allergens early on, it does not develop severe reactions when subjected to them later on.

 

@DrRichardBesser breastfeeding, noticed rash on 8week old after I ate cashews. Do I stay away from all nuts?

— Tricia Williams (@tricianw) February 24, 2015

 

“If your child already has food allergies or is at high risk, they need to be skin-tested before you do anything,” Besser said, adding that it’s important to discuss any diagnosed or potential allergies with your child’s doctor.

 

@GMA @DrRichardBesser peanuts yes/peanuts no coffee yes/coffee no wine yes/wine no ... what/who are we to believe? #trust #drknowsbest

— rose howe (@howe_rose) February 24, 2015

Besser said he understood parents’ frustration with changing health information but every new, well-designed study helps us learn. The current thinking is that any child not at high risk for allergies should be exposed to a wide variety of foods as a baby. “No milk, no honey but everything else is good to go for babies in the first year of life,” he said.

 

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Same-Sex Couples May One Day Have Biological Children, Researchers Say

Same-Sex Couples May One Day Have Biological Children, Researchers Say

Pekic/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A stem cell research breakthrough might someday allow same-sex couples to have their own biological children.Researchers at Cambridge University in England have taken the first steps towards creating artificial sperm and eggs by reprogramming skin cells from adults and converting them into embryonic-like stem cells. The team then compared the engineered stem cells with human cells from fetuses to confirm they were in fact, identical.The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell earlier this week, stressing that it’s early days for this type of research.“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of the process,” Dr. Jacob Hanna, an investigator with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told ABC News.Hanna said the team will now attempt to complete the process by creating fully developed artificial sperm and eggs, either in a dish or by implanting them in a rodent. Once this is achieved, the technique could become useful for any individual with fertility problems, he said, including couples of the same sex."It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex," Hanna said.However, the prospect of creating a baby by these artificial means alone is probably a long way off, Hanna said.“It is really important to emphasize that while this scenario might be technically possible and feasible, it is remote at this stage and many challenges need to be overcome,” he said. “Further, there are very serious ethical and safety issues to be considered when and if such scenarios become considered in the distant future.”The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership.

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Bionic Eye Lets Blind Man See Wife for First Time in 10 Years

Bionic Eye Lets Blind Man See Wife for First Time in 10 Years

Courtesy Mayo Clinic(NEW YORK) -- It was love again at first sight for a man who went blind 10 years ago.Allen Zderad, a 68-year-old retiree from Minnesota, saw his wife for the first time in more than a decade thanks to a bionic eye implanted by doctors at the Mayo Clinic earlier this month.“Thank you,” Zderad said in the touching scene captured on video. “It’s crude but it’s significant. ...It’ll work.”“Who do you see?” His wife Carmen asked Zderad just before the two hugged each other in a long, tearful embrace.Zderad has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative condition that attacks the retina. There is no treatment or cure for the disease. He told ABC News his vision gradually deteriorated over a 20-year period until he was only able to sense very bright light.After his grandson was diagnosed with the same condition last year, Zderad was recruited by the Mayo Clinic and Second Sight, the implant’s maker, to test out the device. Dr. Raymond Iezzi Jr., a Mayo Clinic researcher and ophthalmologist, performed the surgery.The bionic eye implant sends light wave signals to the optic nerve, bypassing the damaged retina, a statement from the Mayo Clinic explained. In January, a tiny wafer-like chip was embedded in Zderad's right eye. Two weeks later, the eyeglass-style prosthetic device was activated.Zderad described his new-found abilities as “artificial sight.” He is able to make out shapes, forms and outlines in intermittent flashes. Everything is in black and white now, but with training and periodic upgrades over a five-year period he is confident that he will begin to see more sharply, he told ABC News.“What an exciting, emotional thing to say that, ‘Yes, that is my wife,’” Zderad said. “I am grateful they made this as much about the person as the technology.”

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Heart Attacks: Women at Greater Risk for Fatal Ones, Study Finds

Heart Attacks: Women at Greater Risk for Fatal Ones, Study Finds

zaganDesign/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An important alert about heart disease from a new study finds that too many women fail to recognize the symptoms until it's too late.Heart disease kills one in three women every year.Young women are especially vulnerable because they often don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of heart trouble.Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health interviewed 30 women between the ages of 30 and 55, who had heart attacks. All of these women delayed treatment because they didn't recognize the symptoms or lacked knowledge about their risk factors, the researchers found.“What we know is that the signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women can be very vague and they can mimic the signs and symptoms of something very common things,” ABC News medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton told Good Morning America.Rosie O'Donnell was just 50 when she had a heart attack in 2012. Even though she had symptoms, she delayed seeking treatment for more than a day, she has admitted.Ignorance alone could be responsible for the more than 15,000 women who die each year from a heart attack in the U.S, the researchers speculated. It could also explain why women under the age of 55 have twice the risk of dying during hospitalization for an acute heart attack than men in the same age group.The classic scene where a man clutches his chest and collapses to the ground may not necessarily apply to women, according to the American Heart Association. In reality, symptoms for a woman may be far less dramatic.“Chest pain is still the most common symptom of a heart attack,” Ashton said. "There can be shortness of breath and almost flu-like symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting.”Symptoms may start several days or even weeks before a major heart attack, Ashton added.Other common heart attack symptoms for women include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, the American Heart Association noted. If you have any of these signs, the association urges you not to wait more than five minutes before calling for medical help.

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If Your Maternal Grandpa Is Bald, Will You Go Bald?

If Your Maternal Grandpa Is Bald, Will You Go Bald?

indigolotos/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Young men have often wondered, “Will I go bald?” and the old adage, “If your mom’s dad is bald, you’ll go bald” is commonly applied.But, gentlemen, if your mom’s dad is bald, don’t wig out just yet. While there may be a hair of truth to the old saying, it definitely doesn’t tell the whole story.Dr. Ashley Winter specializes in urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital but also knows a thing or two about the genetics behind baldness. She reports on the subject: “The main gene we blame for male pattern baldness is on the X chromosome...the X chromosome they inherit from their mother can come from either their mother’s mother or their mother’s father, meaning that target blameful gene can come from your mom’s mom or your mom’s dad.”She also goes on to explain that the gene for baldness doesn’t act independently, and is affected by a lot of other genes that are inherited in different ways.“So, basically, the big bad bald truth is that anyone who gives you genetic material can make you go bald,” Winter said.

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When It’s OK to Discipline Someone Else’s Kids

When It’s OK to Discipline Someone Else’s Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Picture this: Your child is at a play date and you stop by to pick her up. As you walk into the family's yard, you see your child crying and what appears to be the mom who is hosting the play date scolding her.How would you feel?In her recent article for Babble.com, Chaunie Brusie details the tale. Except that she's the mom doling out the discipline.The short version: Brusie's daughter and the other child got into an argument over a swing. The friend breaks into sobs. Brusie, who is a few steps away, starts to make her way over to the girls and says, “I can’t hear you if you’re crying, honey!”Brusie writes: "I admit that I may have sounded slightly unconcerned to her plight and I admit that I may have sighed that sigh of tired mothers everywhere as I said it, but I swear my intentions were simply to distract her from crying so I could remedy the swing situation.But it was at the exact moment that the words left my lips that I saw her.The girl’s mother.Who had just come into the yard to witness two things: 1) Her daughter crying hysterically and 2) a woman she barely knew basically scolding her for crying.I was beyond mortified and even more embarrassed when the woman pretty much sprinted to her daughter, scooped her up, and made the hastiest of hasty retreats."After the incident, the relationship "kind of deteriorated," Brusie told ABC News.Despite what happened, which she said "looked a lot worse than it was," Brusie did not and doesn't "ever think it's appropriate" to discipline someone else's child. "There is so much going on 'behind the scenes' so to speak with someone else's child that you aren't privy to, so you really can't know what's going on enough to be able to discipline them effectively."Plus, "I've never been a fan when people have disciplined my child," she said.Parenting expert Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…, said seeing your own child disciplined by another adult can be very difficult."Assume the other person did it out of love,” she said. “It’s natural to feel like we’re being judged and get defensive but if we can assume the person did it from a place of love, we’re more likely to respond with kindness."She added, however, that if the direction or reprimand goes against how you parent, you should "calmly let the other person know you handle things differently and you’ll address the issue with the child in private."And while McCready generally advises against disciplining other people's children, saying, "anytime children are involved parent’s emotions are heightened," there is one time where it is completely appropriate. "If the child is in danger then, of course, you should intervene swiftly and without hesitation."Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The Tooth Fairy Was Particularly Generous Last Year

The Tooth Fairy Was Particularly Generous Last Year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those who constantly complain that kids have it better than we ever did, here’s some more ammunition: Delta Dental’s “The Original Tooth Fairy Poll” says that youngsters today get an average of $4.36 for every tooth they shove under the pillow.That's a considerable increase from the $3.50 left in 2013. Overall, it works out to something like $255 million for all the teeth collected in 2014.In all, the Delta Dental poll says that the Tooth Fairy showed up at just over eight in ten of the homes where a tooth dropped out, with first-timers generally getting the biggest cash amount -- an average of $5.74 -- in 40 percent of the cases.However, being somewhat pragmatic, the amount deposited by the Tooth Fairy is generally determined by how much spare cash is around and the age of the child.Meanwhile, the best cash rewards are made in the South -- a whopping $5.16 on average -- while the situation in the Midwest is much leaner with just $2.83 left per tooth.As for how appreciative the kids are, about 17 percent will complain they expected more money while 11 percent will want a gift in addition to or instead of the cash.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How a Motorist Can Pass Out from Cigarette Smoke

How a Motorist Can Pass Out from Cigarette Smoke

iStock/Thinkstock(LEICESTER, England) -- A lot of smokers in England aren’t particularly happy with a new law going into effect this October that will make it illegal to smoke inside cars where children are passengers.Naturally, it comes down to the eternal conflict between civil liberties and public health although science seems to have won this argument based on studies that show the harm that can be caused to others by second- and even third-hand smoke.Some of the most ardent opponents of smoking also point to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning since the smoke from cigarettes contain that toxic gas.So in the interest of science, students from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy developed a model to determine how much one would have to smoke inside a sealed car before they become unconscious by CO.The results of the study probably give smokers some measure of satisfaction because the students figured out it would take a person smoking 15 cigarettes over the course of 75 minutes to pass out from carbon monoxide. Even the most addicted chain smoker would probably get sick before reaching that point.Still, the study doesn’t let smokers off the hook entirely because CO molecules linger in cars even when the windows are open, meaning they pose a health threat to anyone riding inside a smoky vehicle.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Washing Dishes Also Protects Your Immune System

Washing Dishes Also Protects Your Immune System

iStock/Thinkstock(GOTHENBURG, Sweden) -- Sure, automatic dishwashers are a fast and convenient way to get your plates, cups and utensils clean but are you inadvertently boosting your kids’ chances of developing allergic conditions?Researchers at Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, believe that families are better off washing dishes the old fashioned-way, that is, in the sink, because it fits into what’s termed the “hygiene hypothesis.”Pure and simple, the scientists, led by Dr. Bill Hesselmar, believe that the more people are exposed to different microbes, the greater the likelihood they’ll develop resistances to allergic conditions that include asthma and eczema.Hesselmar and his team examined the health records of 1,000 kids pertaining to seasonal allergies, taking into consideration various extraneous factors that can cause these conditions, and discovered that children whose families washed dishes by hand had a far lower rate of asthma, eczema and seasonal allergies than in homes where dishwashers were used.Although the researchers didn’t go as far to say that there was a direct cause-and-effect relationship between reduced allergic conditions and hand-washing dishes, the results seem to verify other studies that support more natural exposure to microbes to build up the immune system.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Big Breakfast, Small Dinner Helps Diabetics

Big Breakfast, Small Dinner Helps Diabetics

Nikolay Trubnikov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK)-- A new blood sugar management trick for those with diabetes, and it’s all about timing. Researchers gave 18 otherwise healthy diabetics either a high-calorie breakfast/low-calorie dinner or a low-calorie breakfast/high-calorie dinner, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Diabetologia.  Both had the same lunch, and the total number of daily calories was about the same. Researchers found that the high-calorie breakfast eaters had lower after-meal blood sugar levels, better insulin response and a quicker return to normal blood sugar compared to the low-calorie breakfast/high-calorie dinner group. How much lower? The peak blood sugar after a high-calorie meal was 24-percent lower when it was eaten in the morning. Overall, researchers say a simple diet change taking advantage of our bodies' natural internal clock may lead to improved sugar control for millions of diabetics.

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Boy Finds Rare Kidney Donor in First-Grade Class

Boy Finds Rare Kidney Donor in First-Grade Class

Comal ISD(NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas) -- Lindsey Painter is teaching her first-grade class a powerful lesson, one that goes far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. In December, when the parents and doctors of one of her students reached out to the public for help in finding a donor, Painter was one of the first to volunteer to be tested. She'd only been teaching at the school since last year. Matthew Parker, a 6-year-old triplet, attends Painter's class with his two brothers at Hoffmann Lane Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas. His kidneys had been failing him since he was a newborn. He'd gotten a kidney donation in 2010 but about two years ago it failed. Since then, he missed school three days out of the week to travel to San Antonio for dialysis. Doctors said Matthew had a one-percent chance that a second donor would be found. More than 70 people volunteered to see whether they were a match, including Painter. "When I went in to be tested, they thanked me for coming in but also kind of prepared me for the fact that it would most likely not be a match," she told ABC News on Tuesday. Then Painter and the Parkers got mind-blowing news. "We were shocked to find out that we were a match," said Painter, the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 10. "She's literally the perfect match for Matthew," the school's principal, Krista Moffatt, said in a statement, according to ABC News affiliate KVUE-TV. "This act personifies her character as someone willing to perform a selfless deed." Surgery is scheduled for mid-March, officials said. One of Painter's kidneys will be removed. If the surgery is successful, he could return to school full-time in eight weeks. Painter said she hoped to see Matthew every day at the school next year as a second-grader. "Every time I watch [my sons] active and running around and playing and loud and doing all of these things that little boys should do...I hope that Matthew is able to get this chance once he gets his kidney," she said. "I am honored to be able to help him out this way."

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Lawsuit Claims Beneful Dog Food Kills Pets

Lawsuit Claims Beneful Dog Food Kills Pets

Kuzmik_A/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new lawsuit claims that Beneful dog food may be killing its customers' four-legged friends. Complaints about Beneful date back several years, James Young, a lawyer in Tampa, Florida, told ABC News. He added that lawyers across the country teamed up when they realized there was a "common denominator" in the dog illnesses and deaths. "It's all Beneful dog food. That’s the common denominator," Young said. "Statistically speaking, the fact that this many dogs were affected by the same brand of dog food is pretty compelling." However, Keith Schopp, a spokesman for Nestle Purina, the company that makes Beneful, told ABC News that there is no problem with Beneful dog food and that there is a "stringent" quality control program in place. Two similar class-action lawsuits were filed against Beneful in recent years, but both were dismissed, he said. "Dogs enjoy the product every day," he said, adding that the ingredient mentioned in the suit as a possible toxin, propylene glycol, is "generally recognized as safe" by the federal government except in cat food. Young said he and his colleagues are still investigating which ingredients in Beneful they suspect injured the animals. The lawsuit Young and several other lawyers filed this month in California against Nestle Purina claims that more than 3,000 complaints against Beneful have been filed in the last four years. The complaints were made online by vets and pet owners to law firms, the Food and Drug Administration and attorneys general around the country, Young said. He said he did not know how many of those animals died, and he was not familiar with the previous two lawsuits filed against Beneful. The new lawsuit cites the story of Frank Lucido, who owned three dogs and is a plaintiff in the suit along with “all other similarly situated.” Lucido started feeding his dogs Beneful for the first time in January, according to the lawsuit obtained by ABC News.

Although the three pets were separated and in different environments while his home was being renovated, they all fell ill shortly after starting the new diet, the suit alleges.

First, Nella, a 4-year-old German shepherd, started to lose her fur and took on a strange smell. Then, she became ill, and veterinarians learned that she was bleeding internally and her liver was malfunctioning, according to the complaint. She survived but still has health problems. Five days later, Lucido's wife found their 8-year-old English bulldog, Dozer, dead in the yard, according to the complaint. Vets determined she, too, had internal bleeding and lesions on her liver. The third dog, an 11-year-old Labrador named Remo, has been "unwell" since the other two became sick, and is undergoing testing, according to the suit.

According to court documents, Nestle Purina has until April 2 to respond to the complaint.

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Gerbils, Not Rats, May Have Caused Bubonic Plague, Study Finds

Gerbils, Not Rats, May Have Caused Bubonic Plague, Study Finds

donghero/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Historians have long blamed rats for spreading the plague in Europe nicknamed the "Black Death" in the 14th century, but new research points the finger at a different furry culprit: gerbils. Known for decimating the European population in the Middle Ages, the Black Death was caused by the bacterium yersinia pestis, which somehow made its way from Asia to Europe in 1347, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal PNAS. Study co-author Nils Stenseth, a biologist at the University of Oslo, said that 12 to 15 years before the plague hit Europe, Asia experienced a warm spring and wet summer, which is good for the gerbils and fleas that carried the plague. Then, a drought decimated the gerbil population, forcing the plague toward domestic animal and human hosts, he said. It then made its way to Europe, though the vessel is unclear, Stenseth said. Stenseth and his team determined the climate hundreds of years ago by examining tree growth rings, according to the study. The authors wrote that a better approach would be to study the DNA gleaned from the remains of plague victims. Epidemiologist Dr. Bill Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he found the study "intriguing" because he'd never before heard of an animal other than the rat being blamed for the Black Death. But he said the authors are doing a lot of inferring to come to their conclusions. "My bottom line is that this is a fascinating new thesis," said Schaffner, who was not involved in the study. "And I think that it likely will result in a lot of controversy among people who are disease historians." But your pet gerbil won't give you the plague, Stenseth said. The animals that spread the plague in Asia were actually a separate, wild species known as a great gerbil, Stenseth said.

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When the Fear of Icy Driving Conditions Is Too Debilitating to Leave Home

When the Fear of Icy Driving Conditions Is Too Debilitating to Leave Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Driving in the winter can be treacherous. Snow, ice and whiteouts can cause pileups, skid-outs and stranded drivers. Despite this year’s brutal wintery conditions, most of us still brave icy roads, but for Amy Andrews, just the thought of driving in winter causes overwhelming, white-knuckled, debilitating fear. Andrews’s phobia over driving in snowy or icy conditions is so crippling, just a weather report about a chance of snow, or snow falling unexpectedly, will throw her into a full-blown panic attack. “This is something that I can’t do,” she said. “If I absolutely have to drive in this bad weather then the whole time I am shaking and I don’t breathe properly and I get lightheaded.” It’s estimated that about 9 percent of American adults suffer from specific phobias, irrational fears of things like flying, heights, elevators and spiders, according to the National Institute of Health. “When somebody is exposed to the object they’re frightened of they feel intense anxiety,” said renowned psychotherapist Robi Ludwig. “Their heart can race, they can sweat, they can feel that they’re having a panic attack or a heart attack but it’s basically how somebody feels when they’re in the fight-or-flight reaction. They really feel like their bodies are in danger.” More than 2,000 people are killed every year in winter weather-related accidents, and facing that possibility behind the wheel is just too much for Andrews. She lives in New England, which has been battered by record-breaking snowfall this winter. Her phobia has made normal life nearly impossible. She is almost too scared to drive if there is one snowflake in the air, even forcing her to miss work at her job as a school administrator. “I have had panic attacks where it just starts snowing, where I will end up in the bathroom hyperventilating, ready to pass out,” she said. Andrews will check the weather obsessively, and cancel plans if there is a threat of snow. “My sister moved to New Hampshire and I told her that I refused to go up there any time from November to March,” Andrews said. But Andrews was determined to conquer her fear. She agreed to let ABC’s Nightline send her to a complimentary class at one of the toughest, and most terrifying, winter driving schools in the country: The Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat, Colorado. There, students have to drive on a track made entirely of snow and ice – Andrews’s worst fear – as instructors teach the fundamentals of winter driving, from what to do if your car skids out to having weight balance in the vehicle. But before she began, Andrews had a rough start. Her car got stuck on an icy road just trying to get from her hotel to the driving school, and she needed to have her car towed up the road. Right away, the first stages of panic set in. “She was pretty wound up,” said head instructor Kurt Spitzner. “[But] I think we were going to have a positive effect on her.” When Andrews finally got to class, and started working with an instructor, something did change. “I think the results were remarkable,” Spitzner said. “Just seeing how she stopped hyperventilating a quarter of the way through the class made me feel really good. This is a start.”

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Chicago Children’s Hospital Patients, Staff Star in Music Video

Chicago Children’s Hospital Patients, Staff Star in Music Video

Northwestern University Dance Marathon(CHICAGO) -- Young patients, nurses and doctors at a Chicago hospital danced and sang thanks to college students raising money to help make their hospital a cheerier place to be. The patients and staff at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois are the stars of a YouTube video in which they lip-sync to the American Authors’ song “Best Day of My Life.” The video, with 1,000 views and counting, was made by students at Northwestern University for the school’s upcoming Dance Marathon fundraiser. “We thought it’d be an awesome idea to film inside the hospital to brighten the kids’ day and to highlight the kids’ stories and what we can do to help with Dance Marathon,” Ross Gordon, a Northwestern senior and the event's public relations co-chair, told ABC News. Proceeds from the Dance Marathon event, during which more than 1,000 students will dance for 30 hours straight, will go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation to help them build “beautifully designed treatment rooms and teen lounges” in hospitals, according to Gordon. The video shoot involved six Northwestern students who coordinated the production and then sat back and watched as the young patients and their doctors and nurses had a blast filming it. “The smiles on their faces were fantastic,” said Gordon, 22. “Some were a little shy to start, but when you have so many smiling nurses dancing it brightened the mood and they definitely got into it.” “One of my favorite parts is when a doctor in the back started twirling a stethoscope,” he said. “The doctors and nurses especially got really into it.” The two-minute video is being used now to help encourage donations and will also be shown when Northwestern students hit the dance floor from 7 p.m. on Friday, March 6, through 1 a.m. on Sunday, March 8. “The whole idea is to unite our campus around advocacy and giving back to a good cause,” Gordon said. Northwestern University Dance Marathon, in its 41st year, has raised more than $1 million each of the last four years, according to Gordon. “This year, we’re using the theme 'Make Life Bright' and #makelifebright with the goal of making hospitals a more welcoming and soothing experience for the children we’re supporting,” he said.

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