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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  The mother of twin girls born conjoined at the abdomen and chest it said it was "surreal" to see her daughters separated.

Speaking to reporters alongside doctors Thursday, Aida Sandoval, and her husband, Arturo Sandoval, were brought to tears as they recounted their daughters' operation earlier this week.

Erika and Eva Sandoval, 2, of Antelope, California, were born joined at the lower chest and upper abdomen, referred to as omphalo-ischiopagus twins. While they were born with their heart and lungs separate, they shared some lower anatomical structures, including a liver, bladder and two kidneys.

"It has been a long journey to get here. It's really been a dream come true," Aida Sandoval told reporters. "We want to get them to this place where they can still have an individual life and still be together."

 It took at least 50 doctors and other medical staff 18 hours to safely separate the girls at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California. They remain in recovery at the hospital after undergoing surgery on Tuesday.

Prior to the surgery, the hospital estimated there was a 70 percent chance that both girls would survive the arduous procedure.

To take on the difficult surgery, the medical team created a 3-D model of the girls' shared abdomen to help guide them through the surgery. They also had their MRI and CT scans available.

The girls' mother said today when she first saw them in the hospital it was surreal to see them separate for the first time in their lives.

"It still seems very surreal to see one on one side and one on the other side," Aida Sandoval said. "It brings us all joy."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Erik Gaines(NEW YORK) -- A crew of firefighters in Washington state helped save Christmas for the family of a man who fell nearly six feet off a ladder while trying to hang Christmas lights at his home.

Erik Gaines, 35, was home alone with his three young children Sunday decorating the outside of the family’s Puyallup, Washington, home for the holidays. He had just hung the first string of lights on his two-story home when the base of the ladder kicked out from underneath him and he crashed down.

Gaines’ left leg got caught in one of the rungs of the ladder as he crashed onto the ground. His 11- and 7-year-old daughters called 911 for their dad while Gaines’ 1-year-old son slept in his crib.

Just as Gaines’ wife pulled up to the house, rescue crews from Central Pierce Fire & Rescue arrived to take Gaines to the hospital.

As Gaines was treated at the hospital for injuries, including a torn rotator cuff, broken leg and a chipped bone on his shoulder, he received good news. The same firefighters who rescued him were planning to come back to his house on their day off to finish hanging his Christmas lights.

"They were so upset, so we thought let’s just give back and spread a little joy," Sean Irwin, one of the four firefighters who put up the lights on Tuesday, told ABC News. "We thought it’d be cool if they pulled in home from the hospital and they had their lights up."

Irwin said the firefighters had a relatively easy job to do because Gaines had so carefully laid out the lights for his home. The completed the job in about one hour.

"Putting up lights was pushed to the back burner after my fall," Gaines said. "But when I heard they offered, it definitely got me emotional to know that they had thought to do that."

The firefighters also told Gaines they will be back in January to finish the job.

"They called when we got home from the hospital and made sure the timers were all working for the lights to go on and off and offered to come back after the first of the year to take the lights down," Gaines said.

Gaines is now home from the hospital as he awaits at least one more surgery to repair his injuries.

"My family and friends have taken pictures for me and put them on social media so I can see them," said Gaines, who is now mostly immobile. "It’s really comforting to know that they're up and that my family gets to continue to celebrate as normal."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 7-year-old girl got her Christmas wish early this year when Santa surprised her with a puppy during a holiday photo shoot.

"She was shocked because she really had no idea," mom Carman Richison of Westland, Michigan, told ABC News. "She was happy and surprised, but a little bit scared too. Santa had to leave and right when Santa left, she didn't know she was really taking this dog home."

"I said, 'What do you mean? Santa doesn't take gifts back honey.' As soon as she knew this was our dog, she was ecstatic," Richison added.

Makaela Mongo, 7, has been battling bone cancer since August 2015. On Oct. 13, Makaela had to have her left leg amputated due to her illness. She is still undergoing chemotherapy, her mother said.

"She stayed pretty positive throughout all of it," Richison said. "She understands stand that this is what needed to happen in order for her to live a long quality life, for her to be here. She's never once ever cried or been sad, 'woe is me' ... never once. Even the day of her surgery, I think we were more nervous than she was."

In February, Mary Rosecrans, owner of Rosecrans Picture Perfect Photography, met Makaela and her mother during a photo session.

Rosecrans, 47, offers free pictures for families who are touched by cancer, she told ABC News.

"What I noticed about Makaela was she always worried about her mom," Rosecrans said. "She's always so concerned how her mom's going to handle the next surgery, the next bout with chemo. At 7 years old, she's selfless, which I think is pretty rare."

On Dec. 3, Rosecrans and Richison organized for Makaela to have a special visit with Santa at a photography studio. There, Makaela asked him for a puppy for Christmas.

"Talking to her mom, it just occurred to me that a little puppy might make her healing process better," Rosecrans said. "We ended up finding a really neat Yorkie puppy in Indiana."

Moments after Makaela sat on his lap, Santa Claus, portrayed by Rosecrans' boyfriend, Ted Doute, revealed the Yorkie from his toy bag.

Rosecrans captured the moment Makaela's face lit up on camera.

"She's been wanting to have that companionship, wanting that responsibility and saying, 'Mommy, I can do it. I can be responsible.' So, I was really happy for her," Richison said.

Makaela began chemo again on Dec. 6 and is excited to get home to her new dog, whom she's named Jaxon.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Americans will spend more than $60 billion this year on cosmetics, but have you ever thought about all the chemicals that may be in your favorite products?

You may think the United States government reviews the safety of all the lotions, creams, sprays and makeup you use, but that is not the case. Now lawmakers are raising concerns and asking questions about possible risks, and calling for the FDA to step in.

The last legislation passed to regulate safety of cosmetics was passed nearly 80-years-ago, and now the cosmetics industry could face increased scrutiny by the U.S. government, as a new bill that would give the FDA more teeth is gaining traction in Congress.

“I don’t really think about the products I use in my bathroom,” Ally Cao, 18, of Berkeley, California, told ABC News, adding, however, she does “have some worries.”

Only 11 chemicals have ever been regulated by the FDA for use in cosmetics. And no safety tests are required before beauty products hit store shelves.

Now lawmakers and celebrities are hoping to change that with legislation that would require the FDA to evaluate the safety of at least five chemicals a year and give the FDA the power to recall dangerous products.

Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the bipartisan legislation titled "Personal Care Products Safety Act," to protect consumers and streamline industry compliance, they said in a statement about the bill.

“From shampoo to lotion, the use of personal care products is widespread, however, there are very few protections in place to ensure their safety,” said Senator Feinstein. “Europe has a robust system, which includes consumer protections like product registration and ingredient reviews. I am pleased to be introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins that will require FDA to review chemicals used in these products and provide clear guidance on their safety.”

It also has the endorsement of nearly two dozen beauty brands and stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, who said in an email rallying support, “Consumers deserve to know the products they use every day are safe.”

ABC News wanted to see if our bodies are actually absorbing the chemicals that we’re putting on each day. We looked at two common chemicals: parabens, which can act as preservatives, and phthalates, controversial chemicals often used to make fragrances last longer. The CDC says the health effects of low-level exposure to these chemicals are “unknown.”

"Human health effects from environmental exposure to low levels of parabens are unknown," according to the CDC website.

After getting a baseline measurement of the chemicals in ABC News' correspondent Mary Bruce's system, for three days, she used only beauty products containing the two chemicals, parabens and phthalates. Then, for five days, she cut them out completely, using only products excluding those chemicals for her daily routine.

ABC News took urine samples at each stage of the experiment and sent them to the California Department of Health for review, then met with University of California-Berkeley researcher Kim Harley for the results.

When Bruce switched to using only products with the chemicals, the level of parabens in her system went off the charts, going up to 386 ug/g, from her baseline of 38 ug/g. The average American woman, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has 23 ug/g.

When she changed to the low-chemical products, the “levels basically plummeted,” said Harley. “You went down to 6 [ug/g].”

The same thing happened with phthalates, going from her baseline of 87 ug/g, up to 284 ug/g, and back down to 45 ug/g. The average for women is 43 ug/g.

The Personal Care Products Council told ABC News families "can feel confident they are protected" and that manufacturers use "the best science and latest available research" to ensure safety before products hit store shelves.

“Families who use cosmetics and personal care products can feel confident that they are protected by a combination of federal safety regulations by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a strong commitment by manufacturers to utilize the best science and latest available research data to substantiate the safety of a cosmetic product before it is marketed," Beth Jonas, Ph.D., the Chief Scientist for the Personal Care Products Council told ABC News in a statement. "This commitment to safety is the industry’s cornerstone with companies employing thousands of scientific and medical experts who are devoted to studying the safety of human health in relation to products and the ingredients used in them."

The FDA recently came out in support of independent review and stronger safety rules in a letter to Senator Feinstein, saying, the "FDA has much less legal authority to protect consumers from unsafe cosmetics than it does for other products the Agency regulates."

If you’re concerned about the chemicals that may be in your system from all these products, the good news, as our own tests showed, is that a few small changes can have a big impact in a short amount of time.

Harley visited with Cao to check the chemicals in the products she’s using every day.

“One thing I would tell you to look for first is fragrance,” said Harley. “Look for products that have shorter ingredients lists and fewer chemicals, that have names you can actually pronounce. That would be a good start.”

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

If you want to be taken seriously and you don’t want to be taken advantage of, new research suggests that you wipe that smile off your face.

A review of six studies titled “Bliss Is Ignorance” found that people perceived as very happy were judged to be more naive and ripe for rip offs. Others believed they shelter themselves from negative information and would be more easily manipulated.

Researchers concluded that it’s all about magnitude.

Here's my take: I believe in the saying be idealistic but realistic at the same time. However, I also believe in the placebo effect and the power of positive thinking. Bottomline: Go for a happy medium.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Jaunita Rodenhiser(NEW YORK) --  A mother in Canada is asking for Christmas cards to lift the spirits of her 9-year-old daughter with cancer, who relied on the comfort of get-well cards to cheer her up while receiving treatment in the hospital.

Hailey Rodenhiser spent Christmas 2014 in the hospital after she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia earlier that month, her mother, Jaunita Rodenhiser, told ABC News. While doctors estimated that she would be in remission within a month of treatment, it actually took six months, and Hailey continues to receive chemotherapy to this day.

At times, the maintenance treatment can be brutal, Rodenhiser said. Over the last couple of months, Rodenhiser said she noticed her daughter seemed depressed due to her health complications. Rodenhiser said she wanted to try and "change the tone" of the holiday season for Hailey and "get her energized about the holidays."

At first, Rodenhiser considered counseling to help her daughter feel better, but knowing how much her daughter loves getting mail, she decided to try a simpler alternative first, turning to Facebook for help, she said.

"This year I would like to show Hailey how much she is loved and cared about..." Rodenhiser wrote on Facebook. "Knowing how much Hailey loves getting mail, cards, and letters, one way that I know of to show her the spirit of Christmas is to request everyone [to] send her a Christmas card and/or letter of inspiration."

 Recieving the cards is the highlight of Hailey's day, Rodenhiser said. The first thing she says when they pull into the driveway after school is, "Mail!" according to her mother.

"She absolutely goes over the moon when she gets a letter or a card," Rodenhiser said, adding that Hailey is in the "best spirits" she's seen her in recentlu.

 So far, Hailey has received dozens of cards, and Rodenhiser has noticed she's beginning to get her smile back. She's happier and is actually looking forward to the holidays, Rodenhiser said. The mail makes her realize she's cared for and gets her out of funky moods when she's wondering why she can't "be like everyone else," Rodenhiser said.

Hailey's favorite type of cards to receive are ones that feature animals, especially dogs, cats and horses, Rodenhiser said. Hailey's dream is to become a veterinarian one day, and she's "always" watching funny cat videos.

Rodenhiser said that although she belives the art of writing letters and sending cards has been "lost with technology," she's happy use to social media to her advantage if it'll mean increasing the joy Hailey will receive every day this holiday season.

If you would like to send a Christmas card, send it to this address:

Hailey Rodenhiser
151 Hirtle Road
Dayspring, Nova Scotia
B4V 5R1

Keep in mind that postage to Canada from the U.S. is $1.15 for a letter weighing less than 2 ounces.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Twin girls born conjoined at the chest and abdomen were successfully separated after an 18-hour surgery that involved 50 physicians and other medical staff.

Erika and Eva Sandoval of Antelope, California, were born joined at the lower chest and upper abdomen, referred to as omphalo-ischiopagus twins. While they were born with their heart and lungs separate, they shared some lower some anatomical structures including a liver, bladder and two kidneys.

"The twins did very well," Dr. Gary Hartman, lead surgeon and Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford said in statement today. "I’m very pleased; this is as good as we could have asked for."

Eva was in the operating room for 17 hours, while her sister Erika was there for an additional hour. The twin girls are now recovering in the intensive-care unit.

Prior to the surgery, the hospital estimated there was a 70 percent chance that both girls would survive the arduous procedure.

To take on the difficult surgery, the medical team created a 3D model of the girls' shared abdomen to help guide them through the surgery. They also had their their MRI and CT scans available.

Conjoined twins are exceedingly rare and occur between every 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 200,000 live births, according to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Four more infants have been born with birth defects related to the Zika virus in New York City, the city's Health Department announced Wednesday.

The four cases occurred after a previous reported case in July, where an infant was born with Zika-related microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head or brain, often leading to significant developmental problems.

These four infants were born with "congenital Zika virus syndrome," which encompasses variety of birth defects, including microcephaly, brain and eye abnormalities, shortened or hardened muscles and tendons and neurologic impairment, according to the health department.

In addition to these five cases where infants were born with health problems related to the Zika virus, eight other infants tested positive for the virus but have shown no symptoms of impairment or birth defects related to the virus, the health department said. Health officials said they will continue to monitor the children for at least a year to see if and how their symptoms progress as they get older.

In total, more than 200 infants have been born to women with a Zika virus infection in New York City, according to the health department.

“Today’s news is a reminder that Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women and their babies," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement Wednesday.

"As we enter the holiday season, we urge all pregnant women in New York City, those who might become pregnant, and their male sexual partners not to visit places where there is active Zika virus transmission,” Bassett added. “We are closely following all babies born to mothers who test positive for Zika infection and will connect parents to available services to improve their child’s quality of life.”

As of Dec. 2, at least 8,000 people in New York City have been tested for the Zika virus with 962 people testing positive, according to the health department, which also noted that of those who tested positive, 325 were pregnant women. All of the Zika infections reported in New York City were acquired while traveling to areas where the virus was more prevalent, except in six cases that were spread through sexual contact, the agency said.

A Zika infection in adults often includes mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika that require hospitalization are rare, and most people are over the worst of the symptoms after a week, according to the CDC.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Temperatures are expected to plummet this week in multiple states across the country, with heavy snow storms expected to hit many areas, including the plains and Great Lakes regions.

In North Dakota, a blizzard has already blanketed much of the state in multiple inches of snow. Winter weather that can leave cars stranded and driveways blocked with snow isn't just a nuisance but also a potential danger to those spending a lot of time outdoors.

Here are a few health tips to keep in mind this winter season:

Frostbite Can Appear Within Minutes

Cold temperatures and icy wind means an increased risk of frostbite. Dr. Edmundo Mandac, director of emergency medicine clinical operations at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Ohio, said in an earlier interview that it might "take only a minute or two" for people to develop frostbite symptoms in below-freezing temperatures.

"If you’re outside and you start feeling your fingers get a little bit tingly or painful, you shouldn’t ignore those signs," Mandac said. "Go in an rewarm yourself."

Even after you've warmed up after a hot cup of tea, Mandac said it still may not be safe to go outside since tissue is "more susceptible" to frostbite on a second trip outdoors.

Shoveling Snow Can Be Hard on Your Heart

Shoveling snow is often a necessary chore during a blizzard, but this is one chore you might want to avoid until the weather warms up a bit. The American Heart Association explains that cold weather and the strain of shoveling snow has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.

Cold temperatures put extra strain on the body, which can be a recipe for disaster, Mandac noted.

"You’re trying to warm up -- trying to shiver -- and throw in physical activity and most people are not in good physical shape," he told ABC News.

Anyone who doesn't feel up to shoveling snow physically should not try to push themselves, Mandac said.

"If you’re not sure about your health ... don’t try to shovel snow," he said.

Avoid Alcohol

Anyone who thinks that a quick sip of alcohol will take away the chill should think again. The American Heart Association says having a sip of whisky or other liquor before going to shovel snow could be more dangerous since the alcohol can cause a person "to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold."

Alcohol, along with some other medications, affect how the body regulates temperature, Mandac pointed out. As a result, it might make a person more susceptible to the cold weather.

Be Aware of Hypothermia Risk and Check on Elderly Family Members

Mandac said he has seen people arrive in his emergency room suffering from severe hypothermia, with body temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We really start seeing problems," with hypothermic patients, Mandac said. "They’re not thinking right. They might be in a coma. It really involves a lot of rewarming process to save them."

While some patients may have been stranded in the outdoors, others patients have become hypothermic even while in their homes, he said.

"Older people, who either because it's not warm enough for them at home or they have medications they take and can’t tell what the temperature is, they can become hypothermic even inside the house," Mandac said.

As people age, it's harder for their bodies to regulate temperature, he noted. If the power goes out or the heat doesn't come on, it can have dangerous consequences for elderly people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also gives advice on how to heat the home safely. The CDC advice includes keeping space heaters at least three feet from anything that can catch fire, not using an extension cord for a space heater and keeping a carbon monoxide detector around.

The CDC also advises against using generators, grills or camp stoves as a heat source because they can generate deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy San Francisco International Airport(SAN FRANCISCO) -- This little piggy is the first known airport therapy pig in the U.S., according to the San Francisco International Airport. Her name is LiLou.

She "promises to surprise and delight guests with her winning personality, charming costumes and painted nails," the airport said in a statement.

And she's no stick in the mud, either. "LiLou loves performing tricks for her audience," the airport added.

The Juliana-breed pig was officially welcomed into the airport's team of trained animals called The Wag Brigade this past Monday.

The Wag Brigade is a team of trained animals certified by the San Francisco SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program to "make passenger travel more enjoyable," the airport said.

The airport said the brigade's animals are carefully selected "for their temperament and airport suitability" and that the animals "wear vests that read 'Pet Me!' to encourage interaction with airport guests."

"We have more than 300 dog, cat and rabbit volunteer teams, but LiLou is the first pig in our program," Dr. Jennifer Henley, SF SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy manager, said in the statement.

"With the addition of LiLou, we can look forward to more moments of surprise and delight for guests at our airport," added Christopher Birch, director of guest experience at the airport.

The therapy pig "also visits several other facilities in San Francisco including senior centers and hospitals," the airport noted.

LiLou's "mom" chronicles her adventures on Instagram on the account @lilou_sfpig.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Athletes are teaming up with veterans to fight the effects of concussions and PTSD, and they’re already seeing major results.

After four years of study, athletes and vets in treatment together at the Eisenhower Center in Michigan saw improvements in depression, anxiety, PTSD and even pain.

Now, for the first time, the After the Impact Fund will help these groups get treatment in their own, dedicated facility in Jacksonville, Florida, opening early next year.

Watch the video below for more:

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

About 1 in 10 babies are born preterm, or before completing the normal 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. These babies miss out on the important growth and development that happens in these final weeks.

Babies who survive can have short-term and long-term health issues, such as vision problems and intellectual impairment, so here are some things you can do:

  • Make sure you keep all your prenatal appointments. This gives your provider a chance to screen for infection or preterm contractions.
  • Commit to be fit before and during your pregnancy. Exercise is good for mom and baby and is recommended for all average risk pregnancies.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re pregnant and have any cramps, bleeding or leaking fluid, call your obstetrician or midwife immediately.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Jim Spellman/WireImage via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amy Schumer has addressed "trolls" who have criticized her looks.

In an Instagram post Tuesday, the comedian stated that she is "very, very honored" to be under consideration to play "an important and evolving icon."

According to a Deadline report from Dec. 2, the actress is in negotiations to star in a live-action "Barbie" film.

Almost immediately, Schumer's critics voiced their opinions that the "Trainwreck" star does not look the part.

She responded to those critics in her Instagram post.

"Is it fat shaming if you know you're not fat and have zero shame in your game? I don't think so. I am strong and proud of how I live my life and say what I mean and fight for what I believe in and I have a blast doing it with the people I love. Where's the shame? It's not there. It's an illusion," she wrote.

"Thanks to everyone for the kind words and support and again my deepest sympathy goes out to the trolls who are in more pain than we will ever understand," she continued. "I want to thank them for making it so evident that I am a great choice. It's that kind of response that let's you know something's wrong with our culture and we all need to work together to change it."

This is not the first time Schumer, 35, has spoken out about her body. Back in April, she questioned Glamour magazine's decision to include her name on the cover of its "Chic at Any Size Issue" alongside Adele and Melissa McCarthy, and, last year, she posed semi-nude for the Pirelli calendar.

"I felt I looked more beautiful than I've ever felt in my life," she said at the time, "and I felt like it looked like me."

In her Instagram post, Schumer also noted how flattered she was by the two Grammy nominations she received Tuesday morning. The comedian's book, "The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo," was nominated for best spoken word album and best comedy album.

"When I look in the mirror I know who I am. I'm a great friend, sister, daughter and girlfriend. I'm a bad-ass comic headlining arenas all over the world and making TV and movies and writing books where I lay it all out there and I'm fearless like you can be," she told her 5.4 million Instagram followers.

"Anyone who has ever been bullied or felt bad about yourself I am out there fighting for you, for us. And I want you to fight for yourself too! We need to laugh at the haters and sympathize with them. They can scream as loud as they want. We can't hear them because we are getting s*** done. I am proud to lead by example."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Stanford Children's Health(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- A pair of twin girls conjoined at the chest and abdomen will undergo a lengthy surgery to finally be separated.

Erika and Eva Sandoval, of Antelope, California, were born joined at the lower chest and upper abdomen, a type of conjoined twin called omphalo-ischiopagus twins. While their heart and lungs are separate they share some lower some anatomical structures including a liver, bladder and two kidneys.

In an effort to allow the 2-year-old girls to live independently of one another, surgeons and other physicians are performing surgery to be separate the toddlers Tuesday. The medical staff who will work on the surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, which is part of Stanford University, anticipate that there is a 70 percent chance that both girls survive the arduous operation.

"It's hard to see the numbers and find comfort on the odds. But as you know from the beginning our girls have superseded the doctors expectations of life and will continue to show us their strength," parents Aida and Arturo wrote online earlier this year.

The procedures are expected to take around 18 hours with 50 medical staff attending to the girls, according to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

"This surgery is complex in terms of enabling a good quality of life for the girls after the separation," lead surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman, division chief of pediatric surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, said in a statement last week.

Conjoined twins are exceedingly rare and occur between every 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 200,000 live births, according to the hospital. To take on the difficult surgery to separate Erika and Eva, the medical team created a 3D model of the girls' shared abdomen. As the surgery progresses, their MRI, CT scans and the 3D model will be used to help guide the surgeons.

"You can think of their anatomy as two people above the rib cage, merging almost into one below the bellybutton," Dr. Peter Lorenz, a professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University Medical Center who will lead the reconstructive phase of the twins’ procedure, said in a statement.

The operation is scheduled to start Tuesday, but hospital officials declined to give an update on the girls at this time due to the "complex and sensitive nature" of the operation.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it's time for your baby to attend school, you can bet there's going to be a little Sophia or Jackson in the classroom.

There may even be a few Aidens, Emmas, Lucases and Olivias.

That's because these names top the list of most popular baby names of 2016, according to the popular website Baby Center. The list was culled from the 400,000 submissions received from new parents.

Here are the top 10 names by gender:


  • Sophia
  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Ava
  • Mia
  • Isabella
  • Riley
  • Aria
  • Zoe
  • Charlotte


  • Jackson
  • Aiden
  • Lucas
  • Liam
  • Noah
  • Ethan
  • Mason
  • Caden
  • Oliver
  • Elijah

For the complete list of the top 50 boys' and girls' names, visit Baby Center.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.








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