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Woman With Engineered Vagina Says She Has 'Normal Life'


iStock/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) -- A woman who took part in a ground-breaking study in which scientists were able to use her cells to engineer lab-grown vaginas is speaking about the procedure that changed her life.

The unnamed woman was one of four subjects between the ages of 13 to 18 who took part in the study. All four suffered from a genetic condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauster (MRKH), which left them with vaginas that were incomplete.

The unnamed woman, who lives in Mexico, said in a translated interview that she was 18 when she found out about her condition and started to learn about her options.

"I thought I couldn’t believe it was true. I was informed about other procedures for this syndrome and it was unbelievable that it could be done in a lab," she said of first learning about the study.

To engineer the organs, researchers from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City biopsied cells from the women and were able to use a biodegradable scaffolds to then build the vagina in the lab. The organs were then implanted in each patient.

"For me to be able to have the surgery, I feel very fortunate because I can have a normal life,"” said the woman. "I know I'm one of the first. It is important to let other girls that have the same problem know that ... there is a treatment and you can have a normal life."

A woman with MRKH will often not develop a uterus or a full vagina, though external genitalia is unaffected by the disorder, which often means the syndrome is not diagnosed until the patient is in her late teens. Before the study, patients were limited to surgical options to recreate that vaginal canal. The disorder affects approximately one in 4,500 female births, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In the eight years after the original operation, researchers found that the subjects reported normal sexual function and that the engineered organs remained structurally and functionally normal.

"Truly I feel fortunate because I have a normal life, completely normal," said the woman who took part in the study.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Thirteen-Pound Baby Waldo Wows Parents


iStock/Thinkstock(DREXEL HILL, Pa.) -- An expecting couple got an unexpected surprise when their newborn weighed a whopping four pounds more than expected.

Waldo James Mysterious Dwyer was born by C-section on Monday weighing 13 pounds, 8 ounces, according to ABC affiliate WPVI.

"We knew he was big but not that big," Danielle Dwyer told WPVI, explaining that doctors guessed Waldo would weigh about 9 pounds, 10 ounces. "I'm thankful he was healthy and well."

The median birth weight for boys is just less than 8 pounds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But baby Waldo was two weeks past due, WPVI reported.

"He had a little extra time in there to cook, to grow," said Dwyer.

"There were so many fat rolls you couldn't tell where his armpits were," said Waldo's dad, Brian Dwyer, who also explained the origin of Waldo's unusual middle name. "He was almost 14 pounds, under a blood red lunar eclipse. I don't know what any of that means but it seems like the first few sentences of a tall tale."

"If there is one child who could own that name Waldo James Mysterious, I think that it's him."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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'Pee Parties' Latest Baby-Making Trend


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Conception has gone social.

Pee parties -- also known as POAS, or Pee on a Stick Parties -- are the latest way women are taking what was once a very private moment very public.

The trend was first spotted by BabyCenter.com. "They will discuss what day they are going to test," said Rebecca Michals, director of global community and customer service, "and then come back to post the results."

Is this the ultimate in oversharing? Maybe not. The intention behind the parties and posts might be just the opposite.

"They [the women] may not want to tell people they are trying to conceive in real life, so they come to the message boards to talk," Michals said. "It gives them support during the two-week-wait.”

The two-week wait, also called the TWW, is the time between sex that intended to result in pregnancy and the time when an over-the-counter pregnancy test can give accurate results.

The boards have certainly served as a support system for Christine Straut-Kinnan of Albuquerque, N.M. She was pregnant in December but had a miscarriage. She's now anxious to conceive again and has participated in several pee parties.

"The ladies," she said, referring to the other women on the message boards, "have been a Godsend. We share in the excitement of the girls who get positives and in the sorrows of those who are still negative. It helps pass the time between the fertile weeks and when you eventually pee on a stick."

Straut-Kinnan said her next POAS party will be in about three weeks from now. How fast will she post the results?

"Within an hour."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Why ESPN Anchor Refuses to Let Cancer Win


Rich Arden/ESPN(NEW YORK) -- Stuart Scott is an ESPN original and the man GQ magazine once said put the hip-hop in sportscasting.

When the Sportscenter anchor is not at ESPN’s studios, he can be found once or twice a month practicing mixed-martial arts wearing sunglasses, for a very specific reason.

“I’m blind in my left eye,” Scott told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an interview this week.  “Contrary to what people say, it is not a glass eye so I have to protect my eyes at all cost.”

Scott, 48, was first diagnosed with cancer in November of 2007.

“That was just kind of a surprise when the doctor said, ‘We did a biopsy on your appendix and you have cancer,’” Scott recalled.  “Like the first thought [was], ‘I’m gonna die.’”

“There’s probably an expletive before the thought, ‘I’m gonna die,’ [but I] can’t say it,” he said.  “My second thought was, ‘I’m gonna die and I’m gonna leave my daughters and I can’t do that.”

After two surgeries and six months of chemotherapy, Scott emerged cancer-free.  Two years later, however, the cancer returned in the form of three tumors.

“After that time I kind of realized, at least for me, this is likely gonna be something I’m never gonna kick, so now what?,” Scott said.

Scott says he left his prognosis at that -- “something I’m never gonna kick” -- for a reason.

“I don’t want to know how many years you think I may have left. How many months you think I may have left,” he told Roberts.  “I don’t want to know what stage cancer you think I have because what’s that going to do?”

“Let’s say it’s Stage 4,” Scott said.  “Well, it’s just gonna make me scared, more scared.  I don’t need that.”

In addition to his medical treatments, Scott has taken to fighting his cancer in the gym, training in martial arts at Plus One Defense Systems in West Hartford, Conn.

“It’s for the mend better than any chemo to me. It’s better than any kind of medicine,” Scott said.  “It’s my way of trying to kick cancer’s a**.”

Scott conditions himself with intense workout sessions with his trainer, Darin Reisler.

“It feels good to be winded, having trouble breathing, chest hurts…,” Scott told Roberts in the midst of a workout. “I’m alive.”

Scott says he fights against cancer for his two daughters. “The most important thing I do is I’m a dad,” he said.

Scott’s oldest daughter, Taelor, was 12 when he was first diagnosed in 2007 and is now a 19-year-old college freshman.  His younger daughter, Sydni, was 8 when Scott was first diagnosed and is now a 14-year-old who loves to sing.

“I want to walk them down the aisle,” he said.  “There are a lot of great upstanding reasons why, because I’m their dad.  I want to share that moment with them.”

“There are a couple of reasons that are just selfish and competitive, because I don’t want no other dude doing it,” he said.  “That’s my job. That’s my role. I want them to call me when they’re 26-years-old and they want a condo that they can’t really afford but I want them to call me and say, ‘Dad can you give me a loan?,’ because I want to say yes.”

“That’s really what I’ve always wanted and needed with them for them is to be a dad for a long time, as long as they need a father,” Scott said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Rise in Women Using Surrogates for Social Reasons


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For most women, carrying their own baby is the ultimate joy. More and more women, however, are turning to surrogates to carry their babies, not because they cannot conceive, but because they do not want to.

It’s a trend many are calling “social surrogacy” and one that was recently highlighted in an article in the May issue of Elle magazine.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for women to have more choices,” said Dr. Saira Jhutty, CEO of Conceptual Options LLC, a California-based surrogacy agency.

Jhutty’s agency matches surrogates with women who have nonmedical reasons for not wanting to carry their own babies. The woman who come to her agency have a variety of reasons for wanting a surrogate, from not wanting a pregnancy to interfere with their careers to being afraid of what pregnancy will do to their bodies, Jhutty said.

“We have people who are afraid of being pregnant,” Jhutty said.  “Some people work in an industry where image is very important so they don’t want to have to go through the changes that happen to a woman’s body when they get pregnant.”

But the choice is still a touchy subject, despite the rising interest in “social surrogacy.”

“Women are really guarded about issues involving their bodies and surrogacy because they are afraid of being judged,” said Leslie Steiner, author of The Baby Chase: How Surrogacy Is Transforming the American Family.

The cost is another issue that might give women pause. With surrogacy running $100,000 or more per child, it’s not for everyone.

“You have to ask yourself why you are doing this,” said Dr. Vicken Sahakian, medical director of the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles.  “Is there real benefit for bypassing the beautiful experience of carrying a child?”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Ohio Soccer Player Is Dangerously 'Allergic' to Her Own Sweat


Courtesy Caitlin McComish(NEW YORK) -- Caitlin McComish, a promising collegiate soccer player, set out for a run in her hometown of White House, Ohio, in May 2013 when she began to have trouble breathing and went into life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

As a child, she'd been diagnosed with food allergies and had two or three mild attacks a year.

"It's never the same, it's always like a group of symptoms," said McComish, 20.

But this one was different.

"I was right in front of my grade school," she said. "I had a really upset stomach, tingly palms and the bottoms of my feet. I was really, really itchy. It hit me like uncomfortable heat waves. Then I could feel the swelling in my throat, and my tongue got tingly and thicker."

Luckily, she said she was able to call her mother before she fell to the ground and "couldn't see straight and could barely breathe."

When the ambulance arrived, McComish's throat was nearly closed and she was barely responding.

"I don't remember much," she said.

By the time she was back in fall training at the University of Toledo, she had gone into shock 17 times, always near the soccer field.

It wasn't until she was referred to the Cleveland Clinic that doctors discovered she was having an inflammatory reaction to her own sweat. She had a relatively common condition in an unusually serious form: cholinergic urticarial.

Technically, McComish doesn't have an allergy; rather, she has a hives disorder when her skin is exposed to heat and sweat. The reactions are so serious, they can be life-threatening.

In a published survey of 500 high school students, researchers found an estimated 10 percent had some form of the disease, but its "true prevalence is underrated," according to Dr. David Lang, chairman of the department of allergy and clinical immunology at The Cleveland Clinic and McComish's doctor.

"It's a condition where people have itching and swelling and the major issue is heat or sweat as a provoking factor," said Lang, who has treated numerous athletes, including professionals, with the condition. "It's quite common in the general population, but in most cases, it's mild and patients either aren't aware of it or manage their symptoms well."

Strenuous exercise, even a "sit in the Jacuzzi," can trigger it, said Lang. Sometimes it's exercise alone, or eating before exercise -- "a one-two punch."

"The hives are very small in association with an increase in the core body temperature," he said. "Common triggers are hot baths or shower or exercise. It's one of a more common group of high-swelling syndromes."

Some people can react to cold in the same way, "when they walk outside and the winter wind blows on their face, they get swelling," he said.

Lang confirmed McComish's diagnosis with an "exercise challenge." He prescribed advancing doses of antihistamines and other medications.

She tried wearing a cooling vest while she played, she tried ice baths leading up to and following practice, but nothing helped. Finally, Lang put her on a drug used typically for asthma, Xolair injections. She showed a "dramatic response," and was also able to continue to play soccer.

McComish also delighted in the fact that she was no longer allergic to peanuts, mangoes, celery and sesame seeds.

She said she is telling her story now so that others with similar conditions might seek help.

"Somehow I got to see Dr. Lang, I think out of the grace of god," McComish said.

McComish, a nursing major, has been medically disqualified from competing by NCAA rules because of a separate diagnosis P.O.T.S., a form of dysautonomia, but she has no regrets.

"I had a come-to-Jesus moment with myself," she said. "I wasn't really worried about my health and I wanted to play soccer. I thought if I pushed it under the rug and kept working hard, it would go away.

"The harder I worked, the worse I got, until my favorite coach said, 'There is a difference between working hard and working smart.' And I kind of had to realize that and simplify my life," McComish said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Drinking Coffee When You're Tired May Keep You Honest


TongRo Images/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- Caffeine as the ultimate truth serum? It certainly seems to make people less inclined to be dishonest when they feel tired, according to three professors from the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Co-author Michael Christian says that sleep deprivation weakens people’s resolve to be ethically strong, such as when a supervisor tells a worker to do something that’s not entirely on the up-and-up.

In fact, Christian and his colleagues speculate that people who work the hardest are the most susceptible to the power of suggestion because they also tend to be the most tired, thus increasing both hostility and dishonesty.

In an experiment, 171 nurses who worked long shifts were divided into two group in which one received plain chewing gum while the other chewed gum laced with caffeine that was the equivalent of two cups of coffee.

When encouraged to “go along with a lie in order to earn some extra money," the caffeinated group consistently refused to accede to the request.

Christian says this shows that “caffeine can help you resist by strengthening your self-control and willpower when you're exhausted.” Just the same, the researchers recommend employers don’t overwork their workers or put them in positions when significant control is needed when long hours can’t be avoided.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Many Looking Forward to New Scientific and Tech Breakthroughs


AlexRaths/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Advances in science and technology are moving faster than people can keep up with, but in spite of feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of everything, Americans are pretty optimistic about the way things are headed.

A new Pew Research center survey suggests as much even as the changes come fast and furious.

For instance, just over eight in ten respondents believe that science will have the ability to regularly grow replacement organs within the next half-century.

Furthermore, Pew found that about half believe computers will be able to make works of art to rival that of humans in the next 50 years while a third think that other planets will be colonized by 2064.

Teleportation? Four in ten say sure, why not? As for inventions they’d like to see in the next five decades, things that would improve health as well as time travel were among the favorites.

However, some also fear the brave new world of science and technology, particularly when it comes to robots that also serve as caregivers and altering the DNA of kids.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Food Texture Can Fool People


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Food texture is probably not high on the list of what people think about when they enjoy a meal.

Yet, somehow, there’s a perception that when a food is either hard or rough, it must contain fewer calories than soft and smooth foods.

Researchers from University of South Florida, the University of Michigan and Columbia University wanted to find “the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming.”

So they had volunteers chow down on a variety of foods with different textures and the general consensus was that if something was hard or rough, it was lower in calories. In fact, people were so convinced by that, they ate more.

In a perfect world, the researchers hope that their study will help people make more sensible diet decisions. However, they recognize the possibility that their research could also be skewed in an unscrupulous manner by the food industry.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Laziness Could Be Hereditary


KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- You might be lazy but perhaps, you’re not to blame. Instead, blame your parents. Or your grandparents. Or maybe go back all the way to when your family tree first sprouted.

That seems to be the takeaway from a study by researchers at University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine, who did a study on 10 generations of rats.

Frank Booth and Michael Roberts say based on an experiment in which active rats bred with similarly active rats and the least active did the same, there appears to be a genetic predisposition to laziness.

After repeating the breeding for 10 generations, the kin at the end of the line called “super runners” ran 10 times more on the running wheel than the so-called “couch potato” rodents.

Ultimately, the most significant difference Booth and Roberts found in the two groups was their genetic make-up while pinpointing 36 genes in the rats’ brains that might motivate physical activity.

They’re not saying humans necessarily have the same gene but it does give people a convenient excuse when accused of being lazy.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Group Grieving May Help Families Through South Korea Ferry Disaster


Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Heart-wrenching photos of families mourning loved ones lost in a South Korean ferry disaster capture what some experts say is a helpful process: group grieving.

At least 25 people are dead and 271 are missing from the sunken ferry, which was carrying 475 people.

More than 300 high school students were among the ferry’s passengers, prompting anger and heartache from crowds of inconsolable parents.

“The more similar the loss, the easier it is to share in a group,” said George Everly, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. “But like most things, it’s a double-edged sword.”

While shared mourning can help families cope with an unfathomable loss, it can also amplify the grieving process, according to Everly.

“Those who share a similar loss can be a remarkable support to one another,” he said. “But in the acute phase, the grieving process can escalate by virtue of the group.”

Photos from the ferry disaster, like photos from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, show families uniting in grief as well as outrage toward the authorities.

“Grieving is helped when there is an efficient and effective flow of information,” said Everly. “Grieving is not helped when there is potential human error that caused the loss.”

The cause of the capsized ferry is still unclear, but Coast Guard officials said the boat’s captain was among the first to escape the doomed vessel.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” 69-year-old Captain Lee Joon-seok said on Korean television Thursday, his face covered by a gray hoodie.

Relatives of dead students sobbed as ambulances transported bodies from Mokpo, a city near the disaster, to Ansan, a satellite city of Seoul. Meanwhile, relatives of missing students, desperate for answers and hoping for a miracle, gathered at Danwon High School in Ansan for a candlelight vigil.

“The moment it happens, that loss becomes the center of your life,” said Everly. “A healthy grieving process is one that moves that loss from the center of your life to somewhere else.”

Groups can help with that process by gathering to remember those lost, Everly said, citing support groups for those who lost loved ones in Pan Am Flight 103 -- the Lockerbie disaster.

“They formed a special bond that I think was helpful,” he said. “Grief is better shared, as long as it doesn’t continue to escalate.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Alexa Ray Joel Opens Up About Collapsing Onstage


Mike Coppola/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Alexa Ray Joel is doing fine since collapsing onstage while singing to a sold-out crowd at New York City’s Cafe Carlyle recently.

“I’m doing fine. I’m great, and I’m standing,” the 28-year-old daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley told Extra on this week.

“I do tend to get a little bit of a low blood sugar drop. I was working shows in a row. You know it happens, singing is a physical act. I think I was just building up my stamina and it was a lot of shows in a row. Hey, life happens.”

Joel was two songs into her set on Saturday night when she lost consciousness. She was taken to the emergency room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and later released after being diagnosed with vasovagal syncope, a non-serious condition that blocks blood from flowing to the brain and causes fainting, her rep told People.

The singer told Extra: “I really appreciate that everybody has been so respectful and not putting any salacious slant on the whole story.”

She added, “Everyone has been so caring and sweet and supportive. I’m getting all these messages on Facebook and social media of everyone asking how I’m doing. I really appreciate it, it’s helping me actually recover.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Paralyzed UK Veteran Walks Again with Exo-Skeleton


Zoonar RF/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Kevin Ogilvie thought he would never walk again after he was left paralyzed from the chest down in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.

Ogilvie, a member of the Royal Air Force Regiment, was injured when the vehicle he was driving hit an improvised explosive device. Ogilvie was left with seven broken and three crushed vertebrae.

In spite of his injury, Ogilvie got to walk again -- with some high-tech assistance. At a rehabilitation hospital in Scotland, Ogilvie was able to try out new robot legs made by Rex Bionics.

“It was really cool, but also really strange, to be walking again after so long,” Ogilvie told The Scotsman Newspaper. “It was weird to use, but weird in a good sense, having no feeling or control below my chest made seeing me moving even weirder.”

The creators of Rex Bionics say the device won’t exactly help people run a marathon, but can help people connect in small ways.

“They don’t want to go any faster....They want to get back at eye level,” said Rex Bionics spokeswoman Debra Leeves. “It’s a small thing -- everything always happens above their heads.”

The robotic legs were part of a demonstration, but Kevin Ogilvie’s father, Phil Ogilvie, said he hopes his son will be able to use them again.

“The device is still in the development stage but it’s hoped that in four or five years it will be fully operational,” he told The Scotsman.

Ogilvie and his brother are now working to raise £10,000 for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Soldiers Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association by the end of the year as a way to thank the charities for their help after Kevin’s injuries.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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FDA Warns Against Hysterectomy Technique That May Spread Cancer


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A Boston couple behind a campaign to stop doctors from performing a controversial surgical procedure is applauding a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning against doctors performing the procedure, called laparoscopic power morcellation.

The FDA wants doctors to stop using laparoscopic power morcellation during the removal of the uterus or uterine fibroids since it poses a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue beyond the uterus.

The procedure involves a small metal device that shreds tissue, in this case fibroids or the uterus, which is then removed through a small incision in the abdomen. The surgical technique came under scrutiny last December after two cases came to light in which the women undergoing the procedure had undetected cancer cells spread through their body during the surgery.

One of those cases involved Dr. Amy Reed, 41, an anesthesiologist at Beth-Israel Hospital in Boston. Reed underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation last fall. During the procedure undetected cancer cells were spread through her abdomen. A few days after her surgery she was diagnosed with a stage IV cancer called leiomyosarcoma.

According to the FDA statement, approximately 1 in 350 women who are having a hysterectomy or myomectomy (to remove uterine fibroids) have an undetected type of cancer called uterine sarcoma. The morcellation of this tissue could lead it to spread throughout the abdomen.

Since her diagnosis, Reed and her husband Hoorman Noorchashm, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a campaign to get doctors and hospitals to stop using the procedure, including a Change.org petition with nearly 8,000 signatures, and meeting with politicians and writing to different gynecological and surgical organizations in the medical community.

Noorchashm said he has been disappointed with some initial reactions from hospitals and medical staff but called the FDA decision a “major step forward.”

“The major accomplishment is going to be 10 years from now when Amy is cancer-free,” said Noorchashm. “What helped here was the sheer magnitude of the truth here…I just didn’t stop. I’ve been generating somewhere between three to ten emails a day since November.”

Since Reed’s diagnosis, two medical articles have been published in the Journal of American Medical Association questioning the safety of the procedure.

“The FDA’s primary concern as we consider the continued use of these devices is the safety and well-being of patients,” said Dr. William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “There is no reliable way to determine if a uterine fibroid is cancerous prior to removal.”

In a statement, the FDA confirmed that Noorchashm brought the issue to their attention last December.

“After further discussion, we involved staff from across the agency to look into the issue further,” The FDA told ABC News in a statement.

At least two Boston hospitals have changed their approach to the technique in the last few months, although they still would allow some morcellation in rare cases, and they were investigating the use of encasing tissue in a plastic bag before morcellation.

The FDA will hold a committee meeting to see if encasing tissue in a bag before morcellation can be a safe alternative. Noorchashm points out the bag can easily break if it comes into contact with the morcellation device.

Noorchashm, who is a cardio-thoracic surgeon, said he has been in touch with many other families who have had similar experiences and wants more regulation on medical devices in general to protect patients. Although he said he was gratified by the FDA’s decision, he said more still needs to be done to protect patients, including more oversight and medical transparency.

Since Reed’s disease has stabilized, Noorchashm said she plans to return to work as an anesthesiologist in June in Philadelphia, where they can be closer to extended family. While Noorchashm plans to continue with his work drawing attention to the danger of morcellation, he says he hopes to get back to normal life soon.

“It’s a diagnosis where it hangs over your head. Failure is not an option, we have six kids with bright futures,” said Noorchashm. “I‘m going back to normal and I’m going back to work.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Children’s Dreams Come True One Picture at a Time


File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- Junaisy Vargas, 6, has a lot of wishes in life -- No. 4 seems the most impossible.

“I want to be a mermaid. That’s my wish,” she said.

Junaisy of Las Vegas has Ewing’s Sarcoma, a bone marrow cancer that primarily affects children and adolescents.

Most of her hair is gone because of chemotherapy, but for a special photo shoot she put on a wig and entered into a fantasy universe of her own creation.

It was all made possible by Shawn Van Daele, a photographer who turns dreams into reality through The Drawing Hope Project. He visited the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation and photographed several kids.

Click here for more amazing photographs from Van Daele’s project.

Junaisy drew a picture for Van Daele and he turned Vargas into a real mermaid.

His mission is to bring hope and inspiration to everyone who needs it, especially children living with health conditions. He has brought dozens of these fantasies to life. Parents who hear of him reach out through social media. There are lots of superheroes and flyers.

“I just wanted to kind of get the idea out there that anything’s possible -- despite what life throws at you -- and it’s just really kind of rippled and it’s changing a lot of lives,” said Van Daele.

He works with kids all over his native Canada and the U.S. The kids draw him a picture, imagining where they want to be, and he imagines the rest of it with them.

Sadie Slykhuis, 4, has Cone Rod Dysfunction, a disease that requires her to be in darkness most of the time.

Sadie, from Fenelon Falls, Ontario, hoped to bask in the brightest sunlight, so Van Daele took her drawing of a butterfly under a bright sun and gave her wings, letting her fly among the sunflowers.

The project started years ago when there was illness in Van Daele’s family.

“I did it to cheer my dad up while he was sick and I started to realize, I could do this for other families,” Van Daele said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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