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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Zika virus continues to spread throughout the Western Hemisphere, including in wide swaths of Central and South America. Concerns are growing for pregnant women because the mosquito-borne virus has been shown to cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.

Here are the latest updates about the outbreak, which the World Health Organization has deemed a "global health emergency."

Puerto Rico Faces Growing Number of Zika Cases

At least 474 people in Puerto Rico have already been diagnosed with Zika as officials race to curb the outbreak. The virus has already been transmitted from mosquitoes to people on the island, unlike in the continental U.S., where no cases have been contracted from an insect.

This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said they have awarded $5 million to 20 health centers in the area to help with family planning, contraception and outreach to those most at risk for negative consequence of contracting a Zika infection.

“In Puerto Rico, and around the world, the Zika virus is a serious and challenging health threat,” Secretary of HHS, Sylvia M. Burwell, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are committed to doing everything we can to combat this threat and to help strengthen health care in Puerto Rico.”

First Commercial Zika Test is Approved by FDA

Quest Diagnostics announced today they have received emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell the first commercially available diagnostic test for Zika directly to health care providers. Currently, doctors must coordinate with their state and local health department if they want to test a patient for the virus.

Quest Diagnostics plans to make the new test broadly available to physicians for patient testing, including in Puerto Rico, early next week.

Zika Cases in the US Top 400

At least 426 people have been diagnose with Zika in the 50 U.S. states since the outbreak was first detected late last year. Of those who have been diagnosed 36 were pregnant women.
All except eight cases were contracted from a person traveling abroad. The eight other cases were sexually transmitted. The virus has not yet been spread in the US through mosquitoes.

In U.S. territories, outside the 50 states, the number of those infected is far higher at 599 people. Among those infected were 59 pregnant women.

South Korea Creates Olympic Outfits that Protect Athletes from Mosquitoes

The South Korean Olympic athletes will have a unique way of avoiding mosquitoes at the summer Olympics in Brazil, thanks to new "Zika-proof" uniforms.

Unveiled this week, the uniforms contain mosquito-repellent to keep athletes safe from mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, according to the Associated Press.

The outfits also feature long pants and sleeves to keep athletes covered during the opening ceremony. Due to strict restrictions, the Korean Olympic Committee could not make similar changes for uniforms worn during competition, according to the AP, but athletes will be able to wear spray insect repellent.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An author’s suggestion that all women would benefit from “meternity” leave that would give them time to step away from their jobs has sparked controversy.

Meghann Foye is the author of Meternity, a new novel in which an overworked editor fakes her own pregnancy in order to get paid time off -- a “meternity” leave.

In her own life, Foye, 38, also worked as a magazine editor and has said she felt jealous of parents who left the office to pick up their kids. Foye revealed she once declared to a pregnant friend that she needed her own maternity leave.

“Of course, that didn’t happen,” Foye wrote in an article in the New York Post. “But the more I thought about it, the more I came to believe in the value of a 'meternity' leave -- which is, to me, a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.”

Foye continued, “And as I watched my friends take their real maternity leaves, I saw that spending three months detached from their desks made them much more sure of themselves. One friend made the decision to leave her corporate career to create her own business; another decided to switch industries. From the outside, it seemed like those few weeks of them shifting their focus to something other than their jobs gave them a whole new lens through which to see their lives.”

Foye’s proposal of a “meternity” leave has sparked backlash from moms who say maternity leave was no break for them, but a recovery from delivering a child, and then weeks and months spent devoting themselves to that child’s every need. Readers called her New York Post article “baffling” and “ridiculous.”

Foye was scheduled to appear Friday on ABC's Good Morning America but cancelled her appearance after the backlash. Foye issued a statement through her publisher, Mira Books.

"I have tremendous respect for women who take time away from building their careers to raise their children. It's inarguably the hardest job in the world. I've seen my closest friends do just that. I would never begrudge anyone who decides to start a family and takes maternity leave. And I totally get it when moms who return to work need to leave at 6: they have a second job waiting for them when they get home after working all day," the statement read. "My concept of ‘meternity’ is designed to introduce and support the notion that all women deserve the opportunity to take stock and re-examine their goals in order to birth a life that works for them. Moms need it, and so do the rest of us who are trying to figure out the work/life balance. More than anything, all women—moms and those who aren't—need to support each other."

Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist and mother-of-four, said Friday on GMA that the idea of “meternity” leave is dividing.

“It minimizes the notion of stress and guilt for working moms and it also really undermines the fact that being a mother is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week full-time commitment,” Taylor said. “We can’t belittle that because we know that our kids just don’t need us when they’re younger and they’re infants, they need us throughout their lives."

"There is a reality about what it takes to be a mom and that means taking time off and there a number of, millions of women, who can't even take a day off because if they take a day off they'll lose their jobs and don't even have maternity leave," she added.

ABC News' Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis said the debate might be a reaction to trends in society and the workplace.

"People are delaying parenthood longer. The average age of a first-time mother is 26," Jarvis said on GMA. "On top of that, companies in the great recession cut back so dramatically there are fewer people to fill that void when someone is out, whether that's for maternity leave or, heaven forbid, sick leave, there are fewer people to cover the void in the workplace."

"I appreciate how people who are still sitting in the workplace feel when they have to fill in for whomever that person is," she added. "But as somebody, again, who plans to hopefully have that bond someday with my own child and plans to have children someday, I can appreciate the importance of that and that, I think, supersedes everything else."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Paulette McKenzie Leaphart(WASHINGTON) -- Paulette Leaphart, 49, is going to Washington, D.C. And she will make the entire 1,000-mile journey on foot.

Nothing will stand in her way - not even the shirt on her back. Literally.

She will walk from Biloxi, Mississippi, tomorrow completely topless, showing the evidence of her double mastectomy. Leaphart wants to talk to lawmakers about the uphill battle everyday Americans with cancer, like herself, face in trying to afford the sky-high cost of life-saving treatments. She is serious about putting health care reform front and center on the table of Capitol Hill, and this breast cancer survivor thinks she can do it.

"I'm marching to D.C. to put my scars in the face of Congress," Leaphart told ABC News.

It was in January 2014 when her world turned upside down. Her doctor diagnosed her with stage 2, grade 3 breast cancer, and it was aggressive.

Two days before Valentine's Day in February 2014, Leaphart underwent a double mastectomy following her doctor's advice.

Leaphart would soon learn that breast reconstruction was not an option for her. Her doctor feared that it could further complicate her health. Every decision became a matter of life or death. Leaphart chose to live.

"I was devastated," Leaphart said. "I was torn to pieces."

Leaphart would be further torn apart by the costs involved. The single mom of four girls, ages 8, 13, 14 and 15, pays $1,500 every two months for her medications. She says it's not just the cancer that kills a patient; it's also the immense stress of worrying about how one will pay for the overwhelming medical bills.

"I lost everything fighting," Leaphart said. "I didn’t have insurance...I lost my house. I had to sell my car. I had to sell everything that I had of value."

"It's ridiculous, in this country, to have to pay so much to save our lives," Leaphart added. "I want [Congress] to do something with these high-priced prescriptions."

According to a 2007 survey conducted by USA Today/Kaiser Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health, 33 percent of cancer patients had trouble paying medical bills and 43 percent reported skipping treatments or not filling prescriptions because of the cost.

A 2011 study by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that the cost of cancer care in the U.S. reached an estimated $125 billion in 2010, and could top $157 billion by 2020 - troubling statistics for Leaphart.

Preparing for the 1,000-Mile Walk

Leaphart has spent the last year in training for the journey to D.C. She started out taking a few steps a day. Now, she says she walks 30 miles a day for six hours - half in the morning, and the other half in the evening. She is sometimes topless. Leaphart says she also trains three days a week in the gym for three hours a day.

"People ask if I'm worried about her safety," said Emily MacKenzie, who is directing a documentary, Scar Story, about Leaphart. "Of course...I worry about encountering people along the way who will not take kindly to the sight of a bare-chested, breast-less woman walking without shame or fear. I worry that people will be ugly to her, but, again, that's something Paulette has faced many times and is emotionally strong enough to handle."

There are also questions about nudity laws. Could Leaphart face arrest along her planned route from Mississippi to Alabama to South Carolina to North Carolina to Virginia and finally to Washington, D.C.?

"We printed out state by state what the laws are," MacKenzie said. "It boils down to whether or not someone has nipples. She has no nipples or breasts."

"It doesn’t mean that the sight of a topless woman won‘t be provocative to some people," MacKenzie added.

ABC News senior legal correspondent Sunny Hostin said Leaphart could face legal action depending "on the law in each state that she walks through and how each state defines nudity and indecent exposure."

"In Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia, indecent exposure is defined as exposing ones 'private parts.' In Alabama, it is defined as the exposure of genitals. In Washington, D.C., it has been defined as engaging in a sexual act in public, and, finally in South Carolina, as exposing your person. Since breasts are not genitals, it would seem that she can run through Alabama. But are they considered 'private parts' thus becoming a problem for her in North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi? And in South Carolina, she would be arguably 'exposing her person.'"

"Ultimately, it would be insane for a law enforcement officer to arrest her in front of her camera crew," Hostin rebutted. "Imagine the publicity."

There are even more questions from those who ask if Leaphart is taking too big a leap of faith.

"We have a lot of people who have their doubts. 'Can a person really do this'? they say," MacKenzie admitted. "I worry about the physical strain of such a long walk. I worry about sunburns and sprained ankles, but Paulette reminds me that though any of that may happen, she'll take it in stride, mend up and keep going."

Leaphart isn't worried. A host of family, friends and well-wishers will join her on the walk, and some promise to be there from start to finish. Leaphart's story has garnered a lot of attention, at home and abroad. She even appeared in Beyonce's musical film "Lemonade."

"I have so many people all over the world cheering me on," Leaphart said. "It’s been crazy."

She wants the spotlight, however, to be on breast cancer. In 2015 there were 60,290 new breast cancer cases in the U.S. and 40,290 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. This survivor wants to make a point along the way. On the arduous 1,000-mile trek, she wants to say, "The pink ribbon just ain't doing it."

"We need to tell the truth," Leaphart explained. "There is nothing pink, and pretty, and tied up in a bow, about breast cancer."

So, to make the point, she will set out, bearing all, undeterred and unwavering, unflinching and unyielding.

An RV will be her resting place when the sun goes down.

Leaphart admits she is going out on a limb with her plans to talk to D.C.-area politicians because she has no scheduled meetings.

"I plan to rally until they open their doors and talk to me," Leaphart said.

You can follow her journey on her Facebook page, and donate to her cause on GoFundMe.

"She is a normal woman. She is a mom. She is a friend," McKenzie said. "She is a woman who has such hope and such faith... What she is doing is so inspiring and beautiful."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Fifth grader Christopher Ward, Jr., has been legally blind all his life, but he recently got to see his mother for the first time through new electronic glasses.

The 12-year-old from Forest, Virginia, traveled up to Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago to demo a new wearable technology called eSight, according to his mother, Marquita Hackley.

eSight's hands-free headset contains a small, high-speed camera that captures live video, which is sent to a LED screen in front of the user's eyes, allowing them to see with "unprecedented visual clarity," according to eSight's website.

For Hackley, witnessing her son use the glasses and "really see for the first time in his 12 years of life" was "overwhelming and exciting."

"The very first thing he did was turn to me and say, 'Oh, Mommy! There you are!" Hackley, 32, told ABC News Thursday. "And then to hear him say, 'I saw my mom, and she was very pretty,' was so heartwarming. And aside from pretty, just the fact he could even see me meant the whole world to me."

Ward also got to watch his favorite TV show SpongeBob, Hackley said. She explained that though her son "watches TV a little bit at home, [but] in order to see anything, he has to be directly up on the TV" and that "even then, he still can't see all that clearly."

Ward was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, meaning his optic nerve never fully developed before birth, Hackley said, adding that Ward "only has little light perception in his left eye and very, very low vision in his right eye."

"Something has to be up in his face, almost touching for him to see it," she said. "And even though Ward wears glasses on a daily basis, they're more for protection than vision because there is a strong possibility he could lose the little sight he does have if were to get hurt or hit on the face."

Hackley is now raising money to buy eSight for Ward, she said, explaining that the glasses cost $15,000 and her insurance doesn't cover it.

She believes the technology could change Ward's life and open up more opportunities, such as getting more chances to stay in regular classes and learning how to read and write print.

Currently, Ward has to use a braille reader and writer to communicate through text, Hackley said.

"Christopher is just a very loving kid, always happy and never complains about anything," she said. "I'll do anything to help get him what he deserves."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Could the season in which your child is born determine whether he or she will suffer from allergies later in life?

A new study published in the journal Allergies suggests that babies who are born in the fall have an increased risk of developing eczema, and those born in the fall and winter are more prone to asthma.

The researchers found that the allergies did not just occur in childhood. They followed babies until they grew up and noticed that birth season had an affect throughout life.

Despite the link found between birth month and allergies, the researchers are not advocating that parents plan the timing of their pregnancy around it.

Here's my take: Since many of us suffer from allergies, the key is prevention and treatment. Reducing our exposure in our environment as much as possible and treating symptoms with multiple types of allergy medications can be incredibly helpful.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer has managed to amass one of the largest followings on Snapchat, one 10-second video at a time.

Salzhauer, better known as "Dr. Miami," uses Snapchat during his patients' surgeries to document the procedures. As a result, he has millions of Snapchat fans and hundreds of new patients.

"Snapchat and social media has allowed us to show our work to an audience that we would never be able to reach if I had run a local commercial, you know?" Salzhauer told ABC News' "Nightline." "Social media allows us to draw patients from really everywhere. I have a travel concierge now."

Salzhauer says he was kicked off Instagram for being too graphic, so his 16-year-old daughter introduced him to Snapchat. He now has two full-time employees who Snapchat his activities from the moment he walks through the door and into the operating room.

When he first started using Snapchat during his surgeries, Salzhauer said "maybe one in three" would allow him to Snapchat their surgeries.

"But now it's people actually coming asking to be on the Snapchat," he said.

After seeing his videos on Snapchat, 26-year-old Cynthia flew over 1,000 miles just to have Salzhauer operate on her.

"I started watching his Snapchats, and in the beginning it was a little gross, and then after that I was just amazed with his work," Cynthia told "Nightline." "So by watching his Snapchat, it made my decision a little easier, because every person that I saw on the Snapchat looked different from before. So it was just cool."

Cynthia was happy to let Salzhauer Snapchat her surgery so her friends could see what happened as she was unconscious and undergoing a Brazilian butt lift.

"Actually, I feel good and comfortable, and I have a lot of friends, so they know what I'm doing. And I just want them to be part of my little story with him," Cynthia said. "Honestly, I don't mind [my surgery being on Salzhauer's Snapchat], because it's not like my face is there. It's basically private, kind of private. He's just showing his work and that's it."

Salzhauer asks his patients if they want to have their procedures shown on Snapchat and has them sign permission forms.

He insists that Snapchat doesn't distract him in the operating room, and so far, Salzhauer said, no lawsuits stemming from his Snapchat use have come his way.

"We're careful. We hope it never happens, but I think, like, body cameras on police and cameras in schools are a good thing too, you know? It keeps everybody focused, and, you know, it's helpful to go back to the videotape and see," Salzhauer said. "I think all surgery should be on tape. I feel like that -- what's wrong with transparency?"

Every Snapchat is orchestrated to maximize the impact on social media, he says, and his popularity only seems to be growing. He came in second place for the 2016 Shorty Award Snapchatter of the Year, losing to DJ Khaled. And his practice has also exploded.

"We used to get maybe ten appointments a day [but then] we got so many appointments we had to stop taking appointments ... because we had a backlog already for more than a year out," Salzhauer said. "There's a waiting list."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scientists have found a new way to transform human skin cells into heart-like cells in mice by using chemicals instead of genetic modification, in what some experts are calling a major breakthrough.

Researchers used a chemical cocktail that affected the DNA replication and prompted the cells to convert into a heart-like cell, according to a new study published in the journal Science that shows promise in the field of tissue regeneration.

When researchers transplanted these cells into a mouse heart with dead heart cells -- a scenario very similar to the aftermath of a heart attack -- the treated skin cells were able to function as heart-like cells.

The study addresses a key problem for heart attack survivors. Because heart muscle cells do not recover well from injury, injured heart muscle can lead to a lifetime of problems, including heart failure for heart attack survivors.

These findings create a “new avenue for creating heart cells,” said Dr. Richard Lee, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study.

He called the findings a “big step” and “potentially game changing.”

“It might be easier to make a patient’s own heart cells than we previously thought,” he added.

The study findings suggest that it may be possible to turn a patient's own skin cells into heart muscle, then transplant them back in the patient, according to Shen Ding, senior investigator at Gladstone Institute and professor of stem cell research and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

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Until now, the conversion of skin cells into heart-like cells has required adding and modifying genes, which has not shown a high rate of success. Of the heart-like cells generated using genetic methods, only about 0.1 percent behave like heart cells, by beating spontaneously, for example.

In this study, when using the cocktail of molecules, 97 percent of the reprogrammed cells behaved like heart cells.

“Efficiency and authenticity are much better and this is why we feel very excited,” Ding said.

In the distant future, Ding is hopeful that a medication might contain molecules similar to those in his study.

In theory, this medication could help treat the scarred heart tissue that can develop after a heart attack. Someday, it may be possible to target this damaged tissue and change it into functional, heart muscle cells through medication.

“It is actually a very impressive breakthrough," Lee said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  The Food and Drug Administration approved the first commercial U.S. test Thursday to diagnose the Zika virus.

The news comes as states and the federal government struggle to get ahead of the epidemic as it makes its way to the U.S. from South America.

Quest Diagnostics says it has received emergency authorization from the FDA to sell the first commercially developed diagnostic test for the mosquito-borne virus. Until now, patients who wanted the test had to go through their state or local health departments.

Quest Diagnostics plans to make the new test broadly available to physicians for patient testing, including in Puerto Rico, early next week.

International and U.S. health officials have confirmed Zika infection during pregnancy can cause fetal microcephaly -- characterized by an abnormally small head and brain -- and other birth defects, and warned that local outbreaks in the United States are possible.

Symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.

So far, there have been no confirmed cases of Zika spreading from mosquitoes to people in either Canada or the U.S. There have been a few cases reported of the virus transmitting through sexual contact in the U.S.

Three European countries -- France, Italy and Portugal -- are among the eight countries that have reported person-to-person transmission of the virus via sexual contact.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Teen pregnancy rates continue to drop throughout the U.S., and have reached a new historic low, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There were 24.2 live births per 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 to 19 in 2014, according to the report in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This represents a 61 percent decrease from 1991.

"The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences, but the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement Thursday. "By better understanding the many factors that contribute to teen pregnancy we can better design, implement, evaluate, and improve prevention interventions and further reduce disparities."

From 2006 to 2014, the teen birth rate declined 41 percent overall. The decrease was the largest among Hispanics, with a 51 percent drop (38 live births per 1,000 teens in 2014), followed by a 44 percent drop among African Americans (34.9 live births per 1,000 teens in 2014), and a 35 percent drop among whites (17.3 live births per 1,000 teens in 2014.)

While the lower teen pregnancy rates were noted nationwide, the researchers highlighted states where teen pregnancy remained a persistent problem. In Nebraska, rates among African Americans (42.6 per 1,000) and Hispanics (53.9 per 1,000) far exceeded national rates. In Arkansas, the teen birth rate remained far above the national average at 41.5 per 1,000.

"These data underscore that the solution to our nation's teen pregnancy problem is not going to be a one-size-fits-all -- teen birth rates vary greatly across state lines and even within states," Lisa Romero, a health scientist in CDC's Division of Reproductive Health and lead author of the analysis, said in a statement.

"Together, we can work to implement proven prevention programs that take into account unique, local needs," Romero said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Ty Swarts(SHAWNEE, Kan.) -- A set of triplets who were born premature paid it forward last week after donating pajamas to the babies of the NICU in the hospital where they were born 10 years ago.

"I couldn't be more proud," dad Ty Swarts of Shawnee, Kansas, told ABC News. "I'm really happy to see [them] giving back -- especially to young kids. It's just a really big learning lesson...."

In lieu of birthday gifts, Luke, Taya and Brady Swarts, former Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU grads in Overland, Kansas, completed what they call "Project Preemie" by donating more than 205 pairs of pajamas to the NICU.

The siblings, born April 16, 2006, got the idea to give back to the tiny residents of the NICU after seeing a photo of themselves in pajamas the nurses gave them while they were in the hospital.

"They were born at 32-and-a-half weeks," mom Jill told ABC News. "We were fortunate enough to only have them stay for three weeks. They all came home on the same day, which is very unusual for multiples."

She added: "The NICU put them in PJs so we thought, 'Let's go off that, pay it forward and put more PJs in the NICU for little guys and little girls.'"

Jill said Luke, Taya and Brady began "Project Preemie" by collecting preemie pajamas from friends and family.

They also had a 10th birthday swim party where their classmates brought pajamas instead of presents.

On April 22, the trio brought the 205 pairs of PJs to the hospital, where they handed them out to moms of preemies.

"When we got there, we were able to meet with the two original doctors from when we were there," Jill said. "They asked if we'd like to meet with one of the moms and that moment was the most special of all. She explained her baby that was in the NICU, and Brady, Taya and Luke picked out their favorite pajamas. She received three pairs -- one from each of them."

Taya, 10, said her favorite part about the preemie project was presenting the pajamas to the mothers at the hospital.

"It showed the moms the same type of respect that we got when we were little," she said.

Dr. Kathleen Weatherstone, medical director of the Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU, was one of the staff members who cared for the triplets when they were born.

Weatherstone was also present when the siblings carried out their kind act.

“This opportunity with the Swarts triplets was especially meaningful because we not only celebrated their 10th birthdays, but were also the recipient of their #PreemiePJProject," Weatherstone released in a statement to ABC News. "The physicians, nurses and entire NICU team are humbled to part of something so special and thank the youngsters for their creative generosity. This donation accentuates the spirit of family that defines our NICU."

In the end, the kids sent out handwritten letters to all who donated to their cause.

"I would like to do something like this again," Luke told ABC News.

Brady and Taya agreed.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As rising drug costs have become a topic of intense debate, a new review finds a significant increase for some cancer drugs.

The cost of certain oral medications for cancer treatment have increased multiple-fold since 2000, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The average cost for certain orally administered treatments have increased dramatically, even after prices were adjusted for inflation, according to a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who examined data from a prescription drug database. Additionally, newer drugs cost far more than drugs already on the market, the study found.

These drugs fight cancer in a variety of ways, and are generally less stressful on the patient compared to traditional chemotherapy treatments.

These kinds of medications have become more popular since 2000, with 32 therapies introduced between 2000 to 2014. Costs for these kinds of treatment rose from an average of $1,869 a month for those launched in 2000 to $11,325 a month for the drugs launched in 2014. When she compared products launched from 2000 to 2010 to those launched after 2010, the researcher found a 63 percent increase in the mean monthly spending during the first year the product was on the market. Products launched between 2000 to 2010 cost had a mean monthly spending of $5,529 for the first year they were on the market compared to the products launched after 2010, which had a mean monthly spending of $9,013.

"The major trend here is that these products are just getting more expensive over time," study author Stacie Dusetzina, of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a statement Thursday.

Dusetzina pointed out there has been a push to create these anti-cancer drugs for patients, but that the increasing prices may make it difficult or nearly impossible for a patient to access these new therapies.

"Patients are increasingly taking on the burden of paying for these high-cost specialty drugs as plans move toward use of higher deductibles and co-insurance -- where a patient will pay a percentage of the drug cost rather than a flat copay," Dusetzina said.

She did not speculate about why these drugs have risen in cost in recent years.

Shawn Osborne, vice president of Pharmacy and Supply Chain Services at University Hospitals of Cleveland, said these kinds of oral cancer therapies have gotten more attention recently since they have shown better outcomes for patients.

"It’s a more targeted therapy that’s typically more pleasant," than infusion chemotherapy, he said.

Because some of these drugs have shown better outcomes for patients, manufacturers are charging more, he said. Additionally, he pointed out that because the drugs are new, getting access to the drugs can be more expensive.

Many of these drugs are newer and manufacturers require that patients be strictly monitored if they are taking the drugs so that more data can be collected, Osborne said, noting that this monitoring can require expensive infrastructure.

Osborne said he suspects the drug prices will at some point stop increasing at the same high rate.

"I do think that with these drugs there's a balance out there that will be struck at some point," he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WILMINGTON, N.C.) -- A teen's touching "promposal" to her friend with Down syndrome is going viral on Facebook after it was captured on video.

Lillie Wright, 17, surprised her friend and co-worker Trevor Jefferson, 21, at Beau's Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina, on April 25 by asking him to prom with a cute coffee-themed poem written on a sign.

"I like coffee, I like tea. Would you go to prom with me?" Lillie's sign reads.

In the video, Trevor reads the poem aloud and responds with an enthusiastic “Yes.” The two share a hug while surrounded by friends and family.

Lillie’s mother, Amy Wright, owner of Beau’s Coffee, filmed the whole thing.

"Lillie’s decision to ask Trevor was completely natural, she has two siblings with Down syndrome," Wright said. "Lillie values Trevor as a person and a friend.... Everyone at Beau’s Coffee loves Trevor and was happy to share in the moment."

Since the video was posted, the promposal has garnered more than 400,000 views on Facebook.

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Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(DENVER) -- A 16-year-old Denver Broncos fan who survived a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare form of cancer will get a one-of-a-kind opportunity Thursday night at the 2016 NFL Draft.

Daniel Hailpern, of Denver, Colorado, will stand next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in Chicago to announce the pick for the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I’m not nervous at all,” Hailpern, a high school sophomore, told ABC News. “I’m very excited, though.”

Hailpern’s lack of nerves over his big moment in front of future NFL superstars is because the teenager is already a broadcasting pro. During his nine months of treatment at Children's Hospital Colorado, Hailpern became a local celebrity by hosting a football-centered sports talk show from the hospital’s broadcast studio.

“Football was the driving force to keep me going because every week that I was able to keep going and be healthy would be another week to watch football,” Hailpern said of his recovery from acute promyelocytic leukemia. "I really got to love the Broncos while I was in the hospital."

Hailpern, who underwent chemotherapy in addition to the bone marrow transplant, created a "Frozen" parody viral video about the Broncos in 2014 that led to him being named the hospital’s ambassador to the team. He got to watch the Broncos win the Super Bowl in person this year and says he watches every NFL game each season.

What Hailpern, who wants to be a sports broadcaster when he grows up, is really excited about, though, is Thursday night's draft. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation came to him, he immediately said he wanted his wish to be to attend.

“I think it’s the most important day of the football year,” he said. “I know a lot of people don't think it’s exciting to go and watch names being drawn for four hours straight with 10-minute breaks in between, but I do.”

“He once said to me, ‘Football has been my best medicine,’” Nadine said. “To see him go from the lowest of lows to this, it's incredible."

Even though Hailpern is now back in school full-time and no longer at the hospital for frequent doctor appointments, he is continuing with his weekly show that is broadcast throughout the hospital.

"His show became his priority over the appointments and he still kept doing the show beyond his appointments," Nadine said. "It was such an important part of his recovery and his therapy. It was his total motivation for recovery."

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WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- As the opioid epidemic continues to grow nationally, the company that makes a medication to block the effects of an opioid overdose said it will give a free carton of the antidote to any U.S. high school.

Adapt Pharma, maker of the Narcan nasal spray, announced the move on Thursday.

The medication consists of a drug called naloxone, which comes as a nasal spray or injection. It can quickly reverse the dangerous effects of an opioid overdose by binding to important receptors in a person's central nervous system, thus blocking the opioid from depressing the nervous system.

Mike Kelly, president of U.S. Operations at Adapt Pharma, called the decision to give high schools access to the medication a "key milestone."

"This device will equip those in our communities -- families, friends, caregivers and school nurses -- with a tool they can rely on without need for medical training or expertise," Kelly said in a statement.

Opioid addiction has driven an increase in accidental deaths in the U.S. Nearly 19,000 people who took prescription painkillers died in 2014 and another 10,574 individuals died in relation to a heroin overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Association of School Nurses adopted a position last year that school nurses should "review local and state policy on how to access naloxone and implement its use as part of their school emergency response protocol."

"Harm reduction approaches to OPR (opioid pain reliever) overdose include expanding access to naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote, which can prevent overdose deaths by reversing life-threatening respiratory depression," the association said in a statement. "When administered quickly and effectively, naloxone has the potential to immediately restore breathing to a victim experiencing an opioid overdose."

The group pointed out that nurses are the first responders during a school emergency and should be ready for drug overdoses.

"Naloxone saves lives and can be the first step toward OPR abuse recovery," association officials said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- At least 41 people at Harvard University have been diagnosed with the mumps, according to university officials. The news comes as a second outbreak has been reported at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut where at least eight have been diagnosed with the mumps.

At Harvard, 11 people have been put into isolation in an effort to stop the virus from spreading through campus, according to school officials.

"Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) has been actively working with groups from across the university to keep the Harvard community informed about best practices for preventing the spread of mumps," Dr. Paul Barria, director of HUHS, said in a statement Wednesday. The school is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Cambridge Public Health Department.

At least 40 of the people sickened at Harvard were vaccinated. The source of the outbreak, which was first reported on Feb. 29, remains unknown.

A second outbreak was reported Wednesday by Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, where eight students have reportedly been infected with the virus. Another 17 possible cases are still being investigated. All students have fully recovered.

College students are particularly at risk for contracting the virus, health officials told ABC News. The mumps is spread through the saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although most people are vaccinated against mumps at a young age through the MMR vaccine, the vaccination does not provide full protection. Two doses of the vaccine are approximately 88 percent effective at preventing mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective, according to the CDC.

"This is really happening in congregate settings where people are in dormitories," Susan Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Cambridge Public Health Department, told ABC News Wednesday. "College campuses are the perfect storm, because students are sharing all kind so things, they're in close contact and going to parties."

Symptoms of the virus include fever, tiredness, muscle aches and swollen glands. In rare cases, severe complications including meningitis or inflammation of the ovaries or testicles can occur.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said colleges and universities have been at the center of many mumps outbreak in recent years.

"Universities are a wonderful receptor site for young adults incubating mumps," he noted.

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