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First 3-D Printer Vertebra Used to Treat 12-Year-Old Cancer Patient

First 3-D printed vertebra treats cancer patient

12-year-old boy in China receives 1st 3-D printed vertebra. Photo courtesy YouTube Screen Capture

The wonders of the 3-D printer are just beginning to populate the common consciousness and for one 12-year-old boy, the fantastical invention is changing his life.

Minghao of China learned about two months ago that he had Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer usually discovered in children. There was a tumor lodged on the second vertebra of his spine. The usual treatment for this is bine replacement using a titanium tube. Minghao’s doctors decided to try something different.

Using the research and technology developed by the 3-D printer, the doctors at Beijing’s Peking University Third Hospital fabricated an exact replica of Minghao’s vertebra. When it is implanted surgically, they will be able to forego the usual surgical screws or cement. This will allow the boy to recover more quickly. Better still is the fact that the procedure will leave him with a greater range of motion in his neck that the previously used type of procedure would have. This is accomplished because the piece of replacement bone is made from titanium powder and has tiny pores throughout its design that will allow the child’s future bone growth to bond with it.

Minghao underwent the 5-hour procedure in August. It makes him the first recipient of a vertebra created by a 3-D printer.

Others have been helped by the ever-expanding technology surrounding 3-D printers. An Ohio baby’s life was saved in 2013 when it received an airway printed on the device. The implant corrected a birth defect that caused the infant’s airway to collapse several times, cutting off his supply of oxygen and on occasion, stopping his heart.

Minghao is expected to make a full and speedy recovery, thanks to the new vertebra and the out-of-the-box thinking by his doctors.

Posted in Science & Technology0 Comments

9/11 Victim Who Lost Dad Helps Newtown Victims Heal

9/11 loss spurs one woman to help Newtown residents

Sept. 11 motivates woman to help others in Newtown

Amanda Gregory, like so many others, is touched and reminded of the events of 9/11. That is the day she lost her father. The school shooting at the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School stirred her feelings of grief like nothing since that fateful day 13 years ago.

Gregory, 32, who lives just 40 minutes away from Newtown has found some measure of comfort by volunteering through the nonprofit organization, Tuesday’s Child. The organization, like a handful of others, works with those left devastated by 9/11 as well as the families affected by the school shooting that claimed 26 innocent lives.

Losing her father in such a tragic and unexpected way left her dealing with grief and other emotions. While much of the time that followed that experience was a blur, Gregory knew she wanted to be a vessel for healing. When she watched with horror the events unfolding in Connecticut, her desire to help was bolstered even more.

She recalls that she broke down because she understood what the friends and families of the victims were feeling. Her heart was breaking for the families touched so horrifically by this act of human violence. Her purpose was to let them know there are others who understand what they are going through and that even though healing takes time, there is hope.

Today Gregory is a junior board member with Tuesdays’ Child. Her work with the organization is helping raise funds for the Resiliency Center of Newtown, an organization launched last year with the assistance of Tuesday’s Child. It aims to help the community deal with the unspeakable tragedy that rocked its very foundation.

Stephanie Cinque is the founder and executive director of Resiliency Center of Newtown. She lives in the community and decided they could use the help Tuesday’s Child in setting up a similar resource. Though the tragic events these two towns experienced are very different, they do share similarities.

Cinque, a certified social worker, has overseen the operation and watched as it has helped 700-800 people in the community through art, play and music therapy. It offers support groups and socialization through sporting and other events.

The workshop Creative Insight has had the most impact. Run by two women who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, it helps strengthen the bonds between those who’ve suffered an immeasurable loss like the people of Newton have.

The center is helping the community heal because it is a safe place for those who have been shattered by the violence of others. The shared experience helps people hold on and learn to trust again.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

Sacramento Man Lost for 5 Days in Woods; Rescued by Spelling ‘Help’ with Pine Needles

Man attracts rescue worker attenion by speklling HELP with pine needles

Mike Vilhauer lost in wilderness, rescued by spelling HELP with pine needles. Photo courtesy YouTube Screen Capture

A man from West Sacramento, California went fishing in the wilderness and got lost. He spent a terrifying and grueling days alone wondering if he would make it alive and ever see his wife again.

Mike Vilhauer went fishing on Aug. 6. Since his luck was running low, he decided to try changing the bait he was using and set out to catch some grasshoppers. He had no GPS instrumentation and only had a topographical map to work with. Ultimately he discovered he was lost in the wilderness.

The 58-year-old man could not reach police or anyone else by cell phone as the signal was too weak. Though he repeatedly tried to find his way back, all of his attempts were unsuccessful. He resorted to drinking water from puddles and a few streambeds he stumbled upon. Willow branches and pine needles were used to build a makeshift shelter to help him stay warm.

Five days into his ordeal, Mike’s certainty that he would survive was beginning to wane. Unwilling to give up, he kept doing his best to stay alive. He could hear the search helicopters in the area. Using pine needles, he quickly cobbled together an 8-foot tall message that read “HELP” on the ground.

When Vilhauer appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, he thanked the rescue workers for all their efforts. He talked about how he began to lose hope toward the end and even wrote his wife a goodbye note on a piece of driftwood.
In spite of the difficulties he faced, Vilhauer says he would return to the area in the future. This time, he joked, he would bring a marching band. Perhaps so the rescue workers could hear him if he got lost again.

Posted in Environment0 Comments

97-Year-Old Grandmother Drives a Big Rig to Cross Off Bucket List Item

97 year old woman crosses goal off bucket list

97-year-old grandmother drives big rig. Photo from YouTube Screen Capture

Many people have dreams they never realize. One woman, a 97-year-old great-grandmother from New Jersey, has a bucket list of goals she still wants to complete. This past week, she notched one of those goals off her list when she drove a semi-truck, a dream she’s had for most of her life.

Vera Abruzzi has wanted to drive one of the big rigs for about 80 years. Last Wednesday, with the help of her grandson, Gary Kadi, she saw that dream come true.

Kadi arranged for his beloved grandmother to take semi-truck driving lessons with Winsor’s Tractor Trailer Driving School. The instructor spent the day with her as Abruzzi learned to drive the 70-foot long rig. At the end of the day, she got to drive it around in a Linden, New Jersey parking lot.

Prior to her big day behind the wheel, the grandmother of 4 said she was looking forward to the experience probably as much as she’d looked forward to anything in all her 97 years. She explained that the 18-wheelers have always intrigued her and she’s longed to experience driving one firsthand.

Her instructor said she did just fine and handled the truck’s gear system well up to 20 mph. The great-grandmother of 7 told a WABV-TV reporter after the momentous drive that given the opportunity to take the rig on the highway, she would have gone 90 mph. She said she isn’t afraid of trying anything.

So what’s next for Abruzzi? She said she’d love to fly an airplane. Kadi said whatever she wants to do, the family is on it.


Posted in Health0 Comments

Fallen Marine’s Tribute Flag Found at Flea Market, Returned to his Mom

Fallen Marine’s Tribute Flag Found at Flea Market, Returned to his Mom

Marine's tribute flag

Fallen Marine’s tribute flag found at flea market and returned to his mom. Photo courtesy YouTube (Screen capture)

The mother of a fallen Marine received an unexpected gift from two strangers. They returned her son’s tribute flag almost ten years after his death.
Patsy Maciel of Houston, Texas, got a strange message on Facebook from a couple she didn’t know. They claimed they had something of her son’s and wanted to return it to her. It was the flag, inscribed with handwritten messages for her son, Fred, expressing remembrance and gratefulness. Patsy was stunned.
Fred had died in 2005 along with 30 other of his fellow soldiers when a helicopter crashed near Fallujah, Iraq. Patsy had been shipped Fred’s personal affects including his dress blue uniforms, combat boots and some souvenir spoons he had been collecting. She’d never heard of or seen a tribute flag.
Lanie and Walter Brown were out doing a little shopping at a flea market in Hemphill, Texas, roughly 170 miles from where Patsy lived. Tucked away in a vendor’s corner was the flag. Though they had no idea who Fred Maciel was, they realized the flag was a special find. Lanie knew that it was a flag meant for a fallen Marine and she just couldn’t leave it there. They scooped it up for $5, a deal because the flag had writing on it, they were told.
Once home, the couple started searching for the family of the fallen soldier. They felt compelled to act because they had an appreciation for what it stood for. Walter had himself been a Marine and the couple’s son and son-in-law are both currently Marines.
Lanie said as a Marine mom or dad, you feel a bond with all the other Marine parents out there. She understood what Fred’s mom must be feeling.
The couple connected with Patsy and the three have planned to meet this Saturday at Fred’s grave site. There, the Brown’s will return the tribute flag to Fred’s mom. Maciel is looking forward to reading the messages left for her son, who was just 20 when he was killed. She expressed deep gratitude at the gift the Browns are giving her. She described it as getting a small piece of her son back.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

Man Paralyzed on Hawaii Vacation Gets Help to Get Flight Home

Man injured oin vacation in Hawaii gets flight home

Paralyzed vacationer gets financial help getting home from Hawaii. Photo Courtesy Facebook

Todd Duitsman was enjoying a vacation in Hawaii when the unthinkable happened. Duitsman was body surfing at Big Beach on Maui along the shore break. A large wave picked him up, swept him inward and slammed him, head first in the sand. The incident left him paralyzed from the neck down and stranded for weeks with no way home.
It has been two weeks since the accident that left the Stanwood, Washington man paralyzed from the severe spinal injury he suffered in the accident. He has been recovering at Queens Medical Center on Oahu while he and his family tried to figure how to get him home. His condition requires that be transported by air ambulance. The cost of $50,000 is not covered by his insurance provider, Premera Blue Cross, and his family couldn’t come up with the funds.
A local new station shared the story of Duitsman’s situation. People from all points across the country were moved to contribute to help pay to bring the father of three back home. He could be leaving Hawaii as soon as this coming Saturday.
The surfer remains in a positive mood despite the painful injuries which will present challenges for him and his family for months and years to come. On a Facebook page dedicated to his recovery, a post on Thursday thanked those helping in “large ways and small” for their contributions, support and prayers.
With friends and family to help, Duitsman has shared videos of himself on the page. His spirit is inspirational. In one clip, he talks about how eager he is to get into rehab so he can walk again. He also says he will return to Hawaii some day because he loves it.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

A Brooklyn ‘Wedding Watcher’ Has Watched Wedding Parties Celebrate in the Same Spot for 40+ Years

Bailey Fountain

Bailey Fountain is where the ‘Wedding Watchers” have been gathering for 4 decades.

Few things in life bring the kind of joy that a wedding does. It’s a happy occasion. Most everyone involved is filled with love and hope. That’s why Rhoda Hill is one of the ‘Wedding Watchers”, a group of people who congregate on Saturdays in a Brooklyn park to watch and share the joy.

Hill has been visiting Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn since the 1970s. She and a group of others gather every Saturday for the sole purpose of watching the wedding parties gather at the park’s fountain, known as Bailey Fountain.

Bailey Fountain is named for Frank Bailey and his wife Mary Louise Bailey. The original fountain was erected in the early 1870s. It was later replaced by an electric fountain in 1897. That was dismantled in 1915 to allow for construction of the city’s subway. The version that stands today was completed in 1932. The bronze sculpture depicts “male and female figures on the prow of a ship, representing Wisdom and Felicity, surrounded by Neptune, his attendant Triton, and a boy holding a cornucopia” according to New York Parks.

Hill says she keeps coming back because it’s something nice to watch. Everyone there is friendly and she enjoys it. She looks forward to Saturdays so she can watch the wedding groups arrive, set up for their photo shoots with the fountain and the nearby Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch and then climb back into their limousines.

When the group first started meeting, there were upwards of 25 members. Some have moved away. Many have passed on. Only a few still come to watch the beauty and pageantry of the wedding parties. As for Hill, she intends to keep coming as long as she’s physically able. Why? Because, she says, there is nothing like the beauty of watching two people start their journey in life together.

Posted in Featured News0 Comments

Cute Puppy Gets Stuck in a Not-So-Cute Situation

Puppy stuck in tire is rescued by firefighters. Photo by Kern County Fire Department/Facebook

Puppy stuck in tire gets help from firefighters.

We all have the impression of firefighters as heroes and they certainly deserve that honor. Even in their downtime, when they aren’t fighting fires and rescuing people from mangled cars involved in traffic accidents, they are rescuing kittens from trees. That is our impression anyway.

Recently, the men of the Kern County Fire Department demonstrated that that is exactly the kind of thing they do. IN this situation, however it wasn’t a kitten and it wasn’t stuck in a tree. And they didn’t have to go to the site. The victim and the site was brought to them.

The owner of “Junior,” a little pit bull puppy, brought the animal to the fire house. It seems in his inquisitive explorations, Junior had somehow managed to get his head stuck in the center opening of an automobile tore.
The owner was unable to extricate the dog alone and sought help from the local heroes, the fire department.

Brandon Hill, the fire department spokesperson said after a couple of photos were taken, firefighters liberally applied some vegetable oil to the pup and slid him through the greased up hole. Their quick thinking and calm reactions helped free the poor little guy. The curious pup is now safely back home with his owner and his 7 siblings.

Posted in Featured News0 Comments

Shelter Dogs Used to ‘Rescue’ and Enhance the Lives of Office Workers During Lunch Breaks

Rescued dogs help rescue office workers

Shelter dogs rescue office workers and find homes. Photo courtesy The Lost Dogs Home

Shelter dogs are those that are housed and cared for in some sort of animal rescue center. Often they are abandoned or neglected pups that have been taken in by the center in hopes of finding new, loving homes for the dogs. Towards that end, the shelters often hold events designed to raise interest in the animals and hopefully place them with new families will love and care for them. One such shelter found a new, innovative way to do just that and at the same time, help “rescue” some humans, too.

The Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne, Australia came up with the groundbreaking adoption campaign. They offered to “rescue” some office workers from the tight quarters and solitude of their lonely cubicles. All the workers had to do was give up a small part of their lunch time to walk a dog or two.

Kate Hoelter, the general Manager of The Lost Dogs Home says that dogs are widely accepted for their stress-reducing capabilities. Locked away in cubicles for hours on end, away from fresh air, sunshine and contact with others, it is possible to overlook the importance of taking a break and getting away from the stress-inducing environments our jobs often hold. She advocates taking a lunch break and getting outside with a friend who will help you forget about your stress, even for a few minutes.

The shelter’s website claims the campaign was a huge success. They claim to have “rescued” more than 5,000 office workers. In addition to that and even better news, all the dogs in the program were adopted.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

Autistic Boy Confronts Bullies In Front Of The Gym Class

Jake Confronts Bullies

Autistic boy confronts bullies during gym class. Photo from YouTube screen capture

Bullying has reached epic proportions but never before have schools and communities come together to combat it like they are doing today. So many organizations and school administrations are working to eliminate bullying. Schools and school buses are the primary places where bullying occurs because children who are a little bit different stick out more in big groups, making them easy to target.

Since the film, “Bully” came out, it has inspired many to take action. As part of The Bully Project, one courageous boy with autism did just that by confronting his tormentors.
In the video filmed at Jake’s school, Jake is seen in gym class trying to participate and be part of a team. He is often seen by himself and being ignored. The video clip was made as part of The Bully Project, a social campaign created to help end bullying.

Jake stammers a little through his speech to the rest of his gym class but what he has to say is poignant and meaningful. He calls the other kids out for not seeing him for who he is but rather as a target. He tells them that they always leave him out and don’t him or what he says any attention. He tells them that he tries to be their friend but he doesn’t think they want to be his friend. Jake says it hurts that they don’t want to get to know him.

At about this point in his speech, the camera pans to some of the kids. A few are listening with somber expressions. Other giggle and laugh. Jake sees it and calls them out, ‘I see you guys laughing.’ The giggles stop.

After making the video, Jake told the filmmaker that things have gotten better. He explains that bullying has made a major impact on his life but since making the movie, he’s been able to make a lot of friends. He advises other kids with autism to stand up to the bullies and to try not to give a reaction to the bullying. If they can’t get results on their own, he suggests bringing an adult into the situation. He knows it’s hard because kids with autism don’t handle stress as well as other kids. That’s okay, he says because they can get through it and they’ll be awesome. Actually, Jake says they are already awesome.

Posted in Society & Entertainment0 Comments

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