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  • jarun011/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A once-prominent drug executive was convicted today of racketeering and fraud but acquitted of murder for his role running the company that allegedly produced contaminated medicine that caused a deadly outbreak of infections including meningitis in 2012.The jury today returned a mixed verdict in the trial of 50-year-old Barry Cadden, the former president and co-founder of the Boston-based New England Compounding Center, finding him guilty of racketeering and mail fraud but acquitting him on all 25 counts of second-degree murder.Cadden was accused by the government of creating a public health crisis as head of the NECC, where prosecutors said shoddy practices and unsanitary conditions doomed hundreds of people for whom the company produced drugs.The government says a total of 753 people across the country were stricken in 2012 with an epidemic of infections, including meningitis, after receiving contaminated steroid injections produced by Cadden’s company, and 64 of them died.One of those sickened with meningitis was 44-year-old Patricia Schmiedeknecht of Rhode Island, who told ABC News she still suffers from intense pain and continuous sickness five years later.“I cry and I get angry,” she said. “My physical life is much different. I don’t have the energy that I used to. I feel extra pain. I have head pain.”When investigators went to the NECC, they say they found filth, rusted equipment and insects in a facility turning out batches of contaminated medicine.And as part of his alleged scheme to cut corners, prosecutors said Cadden created phony lists of patients, using names of people who were not customers, including Donald Trump, Calvin Klein and Jennifer Lopez, in order to be considered a pharmacy with clients instead of a drug manufacturer, which is held to a higher standard.During the trial, the prosecution also showed videos of Cadden telling his employees not to worry about state health inspectors.“How can they come in and inspect me?” Cadden said in one training video. “They don’t even know what they’re looking at. They have no clue.”Cadden’s laywer Bruce Singal called it a “disgrace” that Cadden had faced any murder charges.“We said from Day one of this case that these murder charges were unjust, unwarranted, and unproveable and we are pleased that today’s verdict vindicates Barry on them,” Singal told ABC News.Cadden remains free on bail while awaiting his sentencing, which is set for June 21.Kathy Pugh, whose now-deceased mother was sickened for years before ultimately succumbing to health complications from the tainted medication, called on the judge to impose a harsh sentence.“If he gives Barry Cadden maximum time, he will send a signal to other CEOs of major companies, whether it’s pharmaceutical, automotive, or whatever,” she said. “It will send a signal that they can’t get away with this.”Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • royaltystockphoto/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Colorectal cancer rates have been rising sharply in younger adults even as the rate for the population as a whole has dropped, according to a study published on Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.While rates of colon cancer dropped for people 55 and older from the mid-1980's to 2013, the researchers found the risk of a younger adult developing the disease rose 2.4 percent per year in adults in their twenties and by 1 percent per year in adults in their thirties.By the mid-1990s, rates were also increasing 1.3 percent per year in adults in their forties and 0.5 percent for adults between the ages of 50 and 54.Dr. Jordan Berlin, co-leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the upwards trend among young people has been seen in recent studies but that the new study was still surprising."It's an interesting study because the rise in the youth comes with a fall in other ages," said Berlin, who was not involved in the study.For rectal cancer, the increase was even more striking. Incidence of rectal cancer in people in their twenties rose by 3.2 percent per year from 1974 to 2013. From 1980 to 2013, the incidence of rectal cancer for people in their thirties also increased 3.2 percent per year. For people in their forties and fifties, the rates of rectal cancer increased 2.3 percent starting in 1996, the study found.Researchers from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute looked at colorectal cancer rates from 1974 to 2013 using data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. They found 490,305 patients over the age of 20 were diagnosed with colorectal cancers from 1974 to 2013.Despite these upticks among people under the age of 55, overall the rates of colorectal cancers have been dropping for decades, with the pace accelerating to a 3 percent drop annually from 2003 to 2012, the study found. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancers remains small at approximately 4.4 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.With a third of rectal cancer patients under the age of 55, the study authors question if the medical community should consider screening before age 50.Researchers did not specifically study possible reasons why the colorectal cancer rate has increased so dramatically in younger adults.Understanding this increase in cancer rate will take much more research, Berlin said. While increased screening for those over 50 may mean catching potential pre-cancerous polyps before they become cancerous, Berlin said much more study will need to be done to understand why there has been such a significant increase."One would have to think that lifestyle may play a role," Berlin said, positing that a more sedentary lifestyle and obesity increase risk of cancer.In addition, understanding how our current diet -- often high in saturates fats, sugars and grains -- can affect cancer risk may be key in understanding the rise in colorectal cancer rates among younger adults, Berlin said."Our diet, which would be considered a Western diet, has a higher risk for colon cancer," Berlin said. "We have certainly changed our diet from the 1950's to 1990's."However, the increase in colorectal cancer risks should not make younger people feel overly fearful, Berlin said, noting that there are key symptoms that could signal something is wrong and lead a person to talk to their doctor.One tip-off is "if your bowel habits change and stay consistently changed," Berlin said.Additionally, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, narrowing of the stools, and for men, developing anemia, are also all possible indicators of colorectal cancer, he said.The new study adds to a growing body of evidence about the risk of colorectal cancer among younger adults, which could impact current screening guidelines, Berlin said.Current guidelines advise people without other risk
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  • Footsicle/iStock/Thinkstock(MILFORD, Va.) -- A toddler and his mom will be making memories this year as one teen's special senior prom guests.Taylor Schafer, 17, a student at Caroline High School in Milford, Virginia, invited Finn Blumenthal, 2, to accompany her to the dance on April 21.Finn was born with a congenital heart defect, which causes life-threatening medical challenges, his mother Kelly Blumenthal of Fredericksburg told ABC News."He'll have the memory, so if he is hospitalized in the future we can say, 'Hey, you did go to a senior prom.'" she said."It's a dream come true because as a parent with a medically-challenged child, we don't know what the future holds and I dream of things like this," Blumenthal added. "I want him to go to prom, have a family, go to college [but] I can't tell the future. The fact that I can check this off the list no matter what is a relief. I can't repay her for that."When Finn was born, he survived 10 surgeries, including three procedures on his heart.Although he's spent most of his life in and out of the hospital, Blumenthal, a mom of two, said Finn is resilient."He is not sad that he has heart disease, it does not bother him at all," she said. "Whether it's climbing stuff or catching up with his brother pulling a red wagon, he wants to do it. He loves being around people, especially children."Last October, Blumenthal said she met high school teen Taylor Schafer through a mutual acquaintance.Schafer began following Finn's story on Facebook and later reached out to Blumenthal, asking if she and Finn could be her special guests at prom.On Monday, Schafer officially invited Finn to prom with a marquee message at the local Chick-fil-A in Fredericksburg. The restaurant staff knows the Blumenthals and often holds fundraisers to raise money for Finn's medical bills, as well as the American Heart Association, assistant marketing director Nicole Robyn told ABC News."Because of our close relationship with the Blumenthal family, we were thrilled to get to be a part of this really sweet, inspirational story," Robyn said.Anna Swink, Taylor Schafer's mother, told ABC News that she's "very proud" of her daughter's kind gesture."I think it’s amazing," said Swink, a Caroline County resident. "She's got a big heart and I always knew she wanted to do something like this. She loves children. When she found Finn, she started following him and just fell in love with him."On April 21, Finn will wear a James Bond-esque black tuxedo to prom, his mom said. Flowers and a limo have been donated from local businesses."I'm excited to go to prom with Finn because I know he will have a great time dancing and seeing everyone there," Taylor Schafer wrote to ABC News. "I feel that taking Finn to prom will [raise] awareness for CHD and seeing him do all the things that most children with CHD cannot do will be just amazing. He had so many limits on what he was allowed to do in the past and seeing him overcome those limits [is] wonderful."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas woman is hoping to raise awareness about heart disease after she survived two near-fatal heart attacks, underwent a heart transplant and lost her mother to a heart attack in a single year.Kristen Patton, 41, suffered her first heart attack with no warning on Christmas Eve 2015. She had just brought home her fourth child after giving birth two days prior and the family enjoyed a normal Christmas Eve. She first noticed something was wrong when she was feeding her infant daughter."I had this horrible pain in my jaw ... it felt like it was drilling into my jawbone," Patton, of Austin, Texas, said. She instantly knew something was wrong and put her child back in the bassinet before calling for her husband."He came into the room to find me unresponsive and called 911," Patton said. By the time paramedics arrived she no longer had a heartbeat and they had to use a defibrillator to get her heart started again.Once she was at the hospital, the doctors were able to stabilize her heartbeat but they remained mystified to why her heartbeat had been dangerously irregular.Days later, after multiple tests and no clear answer, they planned to let her leave the hospital with a defibrillator vest that could shock her heart if she had another heart attack. But before they could prep her for that device, Patton had a second heart attack."It was the same exact pain and progression," Patton recalled. "But I felt like I was drowning and I could not get a breath."During the second heart attack doctors realized that Patton had a rare heart condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection. The layered walls in her artery had partially torn, cutting off desperately needed oxygen to portions of the heart muscle, effectively killing the heart tissue.Dr. Mary Beth Cishek, a cardiologist at Seton Heart Institute in Austin Texas, treated Patton and said the heart was so damaged doctors knew she would need a transplant in the future."It was so extensive and damage to her heart was so great ... it was no longer able to support her body," Cishek said.To save her life doctors performed a triple bypass and attached Patton to a machine that can oxygenate blood called an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.)After the surgery, Patton remained unconscious at the hospital for weeks on life support. She could not be put on the transplant list because her kidneys started to fail and her heart could no longer effectively pump her blood. The ECMO machine and later a similar more portable device called an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) used to pump blood were the only way she could stay alive.After her diagnosis, Patton's doctors realized that her pregnancy, with the accompanying rise and fall in hormones, was the likely cause of the rare and dangerous heart condition."It's thought that the shifting hormones in a way may kind of loosen the cell to cell connections," Cishek explained.In late January, weeks after arriving in the hospital, Patton finally woke up, but was unable to speak due to a tracheotomy."It was a really horrible feeling to not be able to communicate effectively with the people around me," she said. "I also just felt pretty horrible ... I had lost all strength in my arms and legs."Slowly she was able to recover to the point that she could get into a rehab facility as she gained her strength. The LVAD meant she had to be connected to a battery 24 hours every day to keep her blood pumping through her body.Over the course of 2016 Patton continued to get stronger and was even able to return home where she went on a hike with her family and started to get back to her normal life. In November, her doctors were able to put her on the wait list for a heart transplant, giving her hope that a new heart could mean no longer relying on the LVAD to stay alive."You walk around with your cellphone in your hand waiting for your call," Patton said, explaining that every call from an unknown number was exciting.
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  • Lauren Walker/Facebook(THE WOODLANDS, Texas) -- One Texas couple is finally expecting not just one, but two babies, after struggling with infertility for two years.Lauren Walker shared her story, with a moving photo featuring two onesies and 452 needles used for her In-Vitro Fertilization treatments in a photo that has since gone viral on Facebook."We prayed for 953 days...452 Needles, 1000's of tears, 1 corrective surgery, 4 clomid/letrozole attempts, 2 IVF rounds, 3 failed transfers and & 1 Amazing GOD," the yoga instructor wrote as a caption before explaining her inspirational journey.Walker, 28, had been trying to have a child with her high school sweetheart, Garyt, since 2014."When we started, we knew off the bat that I was having issues," Walker told ABC News, "which I guess is a blessing."So Walker decided to undergo IVF treatments at Houston Fertility Institute "and we expected it to work." Still, she miscarried two embryos on Sept. 10, 2014. After another round of treatment, Walker miscarried two more embryos three months later."It's every mother's job to be able to protect their children and keep them safe," Walker said through tears. "And every time they kept putting them inside me I couldn't do it."The couple had one embryo left and decided to "give it one more shot," Walker said. But two days before Christmas in 2014, they discovered they still weren't pregnant.After two years of struggling with infertility, Lauren and Garyt Walker are welcoming twins in August.Walker said she made her husband take the call from her fertility nurse because she was too afraid to hear any more bad news."He went into the bedroom to take the call. He came out and just looked at me and he started to tear up [and said,] 'I'm so sorry, sweetie,'" Walker recalled. "We just held each other and I let out this blood curdling scream. I was completely broken."It didn't help that, by then, they had spent approximately $30,000 on treatments. Thankfully, their marriage was still in tact."We have heard stories of how going through infertility can really cause wear and tear in a marriage," Walker said. "[We decided] we come first. We need to make sure we are always taking care of each other first and foremost."After two years of struggling with infertility, Lauren and Garyt Walker are welcoming twins in August.The couple credits the strength of their marriage and their faith in God for giving them the courage to try to have a baby again.They moved to The Woodlands, Texas, from Houston, in May 2016. After taking out a $14,000 loan, they began treatments again last October.This time, they decided not to tell family and friends they were trying again to have a baby.Instead, they surprised their family with the news that Walker was indeed pregnant -- with twins -- just a week before Christmas by handing them the pregnancy test wrapped in a bow.Walker said that despite her long journey, she wouldn't want it any other way.After two years of struggling with infertility, Lauren and Garyt Walker are welcoming twins in August."Life happens the way that it's supposed to happen," she said. "Had this all happened the way I wanted to back in 2014, we would have different children and we would have a different life, and I know that these babies right now are meant to be here.""The reason why we were waiting so long is that we were waiting for them," she gushed.Walker is due in August and she said she's looking forward to introducing her twins, that she's named Duke and Diana Walker, to her 6-year-old goldendoodle, Fenway -- and of course they rest of their family."They're the first grandchildren," Walker said. "Everyone's just so excited."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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