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  • HYWARDS/iStock/Thinkstock(HEARTLAND, Tex.) -- A Texas bride received a life-saving kidney transplant just one week before walking down the aisle.Anu Philip of Heartland, Texas, underwent surgery on March 19 and was married on March 25. The 28-year-old had been discharged from the hospital 24 hours before, she said."Everything was planned and we did not expect a kidney at all," Philip told ABC News. "It gave me more life to actually enjoy. Now I can travel, have children, and that was actually my main concern. I'm happy that my husband doesn't have to experience daily struggles that I was going through in taking care of me."When she was 9 months old, Philip had renal failure and was diagnosed with minimal change disease -- a disorder that results in abnormal kidney function, according to the Mayo Clinic.On Dec. 6, 2011, while Philip was studying at Criswell College in Dallas, her kidney failed. She was then placed on a transplant waiting list in 2012, she said.Three years later, Philip met her now-husband, Jeswin James, through a family member.James proposed on May 5, 2016, and the couple set their wedding date for March 25, 2017. But a week before, Philip got the call that she had matched with a donor at Medical City Hospital in Dallas.One day later, she received the transplant.Dr. Matthew Mulloy, surgical director of adult and pediatric abdominal transplants at Medical City Dallas Hospital, said Philip's surgery was successful."She's young and otherwise healthy and she got a donor who was also a young, healthy donor," Mulloy told ABC News. "The difficult part was the time constraint for us. What she and I had talked about was that the challenge would be to get her in and out of the hospital quickly and for her to make it to her wedding. ... In this instant, my recommendation to her was to not pass on this donation."Mulloy said the normal recovery time for a transplant patient who does not experience complications is three to seven days."We had a week," he added of Philip's procedure. "[I said], 'As long as you're willing to walk down the aisle and not do any dancing afterward, I think you'll be just fine."Mulloy said Philip's story highlights the essential need for organ donors, especially in April, which is National Donate Life Month, he said.Jeswin James, also 28, said he is grateful to the donor's family for the gift that was given to his wife."Before the wedding, she was on dialysis for the past five years, so every day when she woke up, she very tired, very weak," James told ABC News. "After the transplant, she's energetic. My wife, she's healthy, she happy, she's full of life."Philip said she has written a thank you letter to the donor's family and hopes to meet them someday."I am thankful or their selfless giving," she added. "Whoever they lost, they gave me life."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • LuckyBusiness/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Doctors have long known that genetics can predispose some people to gain weight despite a healthy lifestyle while others seemingly never gain an ounce no matter how much they eat. A new study sheds light on how people can counteract their genetic makeup, even if it's in their DNA to put on more weight than others.Researchers from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Copenhagen and other institutions conducted a meta-analysis examining 60 past genetic studies to see if physical activity could mitigate the effects a genetic predisposition to weight gain."Decline in daily physical activity is thought to be a key contributor to the global obesity epidemic," the authors wrote. However, they explained that genetic make-up may also play a role in weight gain for people who are not physically active.They screened for 2.5 million genetic variants in 200,452 adults and also separated the subjects between those who were physically active -- about 77 percent -- and those who were physically inactive, about 23 percent. The researchers then looked at different markers that would indicate if a person was overweight including their body-mass index, waist circumference and hip-to-waist ratio.They found those with a genetic variation that predisposed them to gain weight -- called an FTO gene -- had the ability counteract the effects that gene through exercise. By looking at the data they found that those with the FTO gene who were physically active were able to reduce the weight-gain effects associated with the gene by about 30 percent.Dr. Goutham Rao, chairman of Family Medicine and Community Health at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, said this type of research is key in helping patients better understand their weight and health."Despite that sort of bad luck of having a genetic predisposition to obesity if you are physically active ... you're not going to reduce risk of obesity entirely but you reduce it significantly," Rao said.The mechanism that leads to people with FTO to be predisposed to gain weight is still not fully understood, but Rao said it's key to give people encouragement that taking healthy steps has an effect even if they haven't reached their goal weight."The message is to be sympathetic," Rao said. Explaining he tells frustrated patients, "if you weren't doing your best you would weigh a lot more and be much less healthy."Dr. Kevin Niswender, associate professor of medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the study took on the "really interesting question" of if people can counteract their genetics through their lifestyle."This study definitively confirms that lifestyle has an impact," he said.During their research the team also discovered 11 new genetic variants that likely predispose a person to weight gain and they said more may be found through similar studies."In future studies, accounting for physical activity and other important lifestyle factors could boost the search for new obesity genes," said Mariaelisa Graff of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the lead author of the study. "To identify more genes whose effects are either dampened or amplified by physical activity, we need to carry out larger studies with more accurate measurement of physical levels."Niswender said finding new variants that indicate predisposition for weight gain can help give a better understanding of the complex mechanisms behind obesity."For a long time we've been searching for this gene, the gene that causes obesity and it's just not like that," Niswender."there are a bunch of genes that cause obesity and the effect of each gene variant is really quite small."Graff said more study should need to be done to get more accurate measurements of the participants' physical activity. The researchers classified those as having a sedentary job, commute and leisure time as "inactive" while everyone else was
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  • Monkey Business Images Ltd/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amid a brewing debate on the future of America’s health care, a little known program sustaining a pipeline of doctors to underserved communities is set to expire on April 28th.The program, known as the Conrad 30 Waiver Program, offers individual states the opportunity to exempt up to 30 foreign doctors per year from their visa requirements, in exchange for practicing for a minimum of three years in areas with a dire need of health providers.From 2013 to 2015, more than half of U.S. states used at least 20-30 of their allotted waivers to remedy critical lapses in health care access, according to the Texas Primary Care Office.“Rural communities in Minnesota and across the country are short on doctors, and they rely on the Conrad 30 program to fill the gaps. Over the last 15 years, the Conrad 30 program has brought more than 15,000 physicians to underserved areas," said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is spearheading the effort to extend the Conrad 30 program, in a statement released earlier this month.Many physicians from around the world, known as international medical graduates, use J-1 visas to complete medical training in the United States. After their training finishes, they are expected to return to their home countries for two years until they can apply for legal residency in the U.S.The Conrad 30 allows foreign physicians to bypass that requirement through the provision of a J-1 waiver, letting them remain in the U.S. while working in communities desperately in need of doctors.The program is designed to counter the shortage of physicians in America. By 2025 the American Medical Association estimates the country will be short of between 60,000 and almost 95,000 physicians -- a deficit that will hit rural and low-income communities especially hard.Along with Sen. Klobuchar, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced the The Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act earlier this month to renew the program until 2021. Since its introduction in 1994, the program has been periodically reauthorized."We must provide opportunities for American-trained and educated physicians to remain in the country and practice where there is an identified need for quality care," said Senator Collins in a statement. "This legislation would allow for expanded access to health care in our rural or underserved communities, and in turn, would promote healthier lives."If the program fails to be reauthorized, the next generation J-1 waiver physicians will not qualify to apply for the waiver until the program is reinstated, potentially interrupting a crucial flow of doctors on which Americans depend.Dr. Sameer Alefrai, a Jordanian physician applying for a J-1 waiver this year, called the program a "win-win.""You get to stay here and continue working for a limited time until you satisfy your J-1 waiver, stay with your friends, colleagues, and keep progressing your career. And they get a physician in an underserved area," Alefrai told ABC News.The Conrad 30 program was instituted by Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota in 1994, looking to address growing shortages of physicians in America, especially in rural communities. By 2006, it had grown tremendously, with the number of waivers from states rising from 89 in 1995 to more than 1,000 per year, leading the U.S. Government Accountability Office to describe it as, "a major means of placing physicians in underserved areas of the United States."The impact of the program is vast as these doctors may see hundreds to thousands of patients. A study in the Annals of Family medicine estimated an average primary care physician in the U.S. may see as many as 2,500 patients a year.In the past, the Conrad 30 program has enjoyed bipartisan support. However, under the new administration, the future of the program is unclear."It’ll be a trial balloon, it certainly will test the waters if physician immigration
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  • Wavebreakmedia Ltd/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Backyard chickens might soon be banned from the nation’s capital, if Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal to make chicken ownership in the city illegal becomes law.At a news conference on Thursday, Bowser said she was concerned about the conditions the chickens might create for Washington, D.C."The provision is that we keep neighborhoods safe, and clean and rodent-free," she said. "This is a city. And it’s not usually the chickens that are the problem, but what they leave behind."The city has long said backyard chicken ownership is illegal, even under the allowance for "common cage birds" that some have argued applies.Some D.C. residents are worried about the possible ban, which is included in Bowser’s 2018 budget bill and could affect the group of urban farmers with chickens being displaced. The proposed ban has been the subject of backlash from some residents, especially since the mayor’s office has not provided a reason."I would be very unhappy if my chickens would be banned. They are amazing," a D.C. resident who wants to be called by her first name, Kathy, told ABC News. She said she's had chickens for three years now.Besides keeping chickens as pets, some backyard chicken owners say they prefer eating their home-grown eggs. Kathy believes the eggs taste better because owners have the ability to feed the chickens a healthier diet.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have traced salmonella outbreaks to backyard birds. In 2016, eight outbreaks of salmonella infections across several states were linked to live poultry in backyard flocks; they were tied to 895 infections and more than 200 hospitalizations.D.C. attorney Allison Sheedy and her husband Dan McInnis created the website dcbackyardchicken.org to start a petition against the ban, after their own legal battle to obtain a permit for their four chickens. Within a week of launching the site, they had more than 500 signatures.The couple said they were upset when they heard about this new proposal to ban backyard chickens in the city."Hopefully the change of law won’t go through," Sheedy told ABC News, "because it’s not appropriate to stick this in the budget."Like Kathy, Sheedy believes that the chickens are good for the environment and considers them family members."It’s been really fun for our kids," said Sheedy.The group is planning on attend the hearing at the Department of Health Budget Oversight on May 5th to raise their objections to the ban.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Ondrooo/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Infants born extremely prematurely face a host of health issues from underdeveloped lungs that can cause chronic lung damage to fragile blood vessels that can cause bleeding in the brain.For decades, doctors in the neonatal intensive care unit have done their best to mimic the complex environment of the womb as they work to keep these tiny infants alive.This week, researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia revealed a new device that could help save the lives of the smallest patients, in a study published in Nature Communications. The device acts as an artificial womb using a "biobag" to mimic the natural uterus that allows a fetus to develop."These infants have an urgent need for a bridge between the mother’s womb and the outside world," Dr. Alan W. Flake, a fetal surgeon and director of the Center for Fetal Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) said in a statement released yesterday."If we can develop an extra-uterine system to support growth and organ maturation for only a few weeks," he added, "we can dramatically improve outcomes for extremely premature babies."Currently, the device is in the animal testing phase of development and more work will need to be done before it can be approved for testing on human infants.When infants are born severely prematurely -- between 23 and 25 weeks -- their chances of survival, without ongoing complications including lung or brain problems, is low. That's due, in part, to their underdeveloped lungs, liver, kidney and brain that are forced to start working months earlier than normal."Everything is formed at that stage but is very, very immature," Dr. Jonathan Fanaroff, from the NICU at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, who was not involved in the study, told ABC News. "Our job in the NICU is to support growth and minimize harm."In hopes of building a better incubator, the team at CHOP created multiple prototype devices, eventually creating a device that features a biobag filled with amniotic fluid and a machine to oxygenate the blood via the umbilical cord.An important part of this incubator, or extra-uterine support device, is the ability to sustain infants without using a ventilator, which can strain their underdeveloped lungs or cause scarring that leads to chronic lung disease.By connecting the umbilical cord to a gas exchange that oxygenates the blood, the device function is similar to how a fetus "breathes" in the womb via the umbilical cord. The biobag is kept in a temperature controlled, near-sterile environment with the infant submerged in amniotic fluid. The device also allows researchers to monitor key vital signs and blood flow, so that doctors can respond quickly if the patient starts to deteriorate.To see if the device might work on humans, researchers used lambs born at a gestation between 105 to 120 days, which is somewhat equivalent to a human infant born between 22 to 25 weeks. Using the most current device they developed, researchers measured how long eight prematurely born lambs survived in the device and grew. The animals were also tested to see if they were developing normally.Five of the eight animals born between 105 to 108 days gestation lived between 25 and 28 days and three animals born at 115 to 120 days lived between 20 and 28 days in the device. The longest an animal was in the device was 28 days and the researchers stopped the experiment at that point, due to animal testing protocols, rather than a poor health outcome.While the study is small and the findings preliminary, the researchers are hopeful that this device could be the future of caring for preterm infants that would be less taxing than current methods."This system is potentially far superior to what hospitals can currently do for a 23-week-old baby born at the cusp of viability," Flake said. "This could establish a new standard of care for this subset of extremely premature infants."Dr. Jon
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