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DanielMirer/iStock/Thinkstock(STERLING, Va.) -- The Loudon County Health Department is continuing to investigate the reports of illnesses linked to a Chipotle restaurant earlier this month, saying approximately 60 people may have gotten sick.

"One ill patron has tested positive for norovirus," Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the LCHD said. Goodfriend noted, however, that at this point there is not enough information to determine the cause of the outbreak.

The restaurant voluntarily closed on July 17 after being informed of multiple customers complaining of nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea within the previous two days. The restaurant was reopened on July 19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said one in six Americans gets sick from contaminated food each year, and norovirus is the most common foodborne illness.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Deaths linked to AIDS have dropped by half in the past decade, according to a new report.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS said deaths had fallen from a peak of 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016, according to the BBC.

The report stated that more than half of people who are affected by AIDS, which is caused by HIV, have been getting treatment for the first time. Eastern and southern Africa have led the way in terms of lowering the number of new HIV infections, according to the report. 

If left unmanaged, the HIV infection destroys the immune system, causing individuals to die from other infections such as tuberculosis, according to the BBC. While it can be contained with a daily regimen of antiretroviral therapy, there is no cure.

"We met the 2015 target of 15 million people on treatment, and we are on track to double that number to 30 million and meet the 2020 target," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé told the BBC.

"We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need and honor our commitment of leaving no one behind."

More than 36 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 53 percent of them are getting the necessary therapy, which gives them a life expectancy closer to normal, according to the BBC. 

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first MRI device specifically for neonatal brain and head imaging in neonatal intensive care units.

"Although we can use traditional MRI scanners to image neonates, taking babies outside of the neonatal intensive care unit to MRI suites presents great challenges," said Vasum Peiris, chief medical officer for pediatrics and special populations at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The new device, called the Embrace Neonatal MRI system, would give physicians a safer way to image vulnerable, young patients. The system includes a temperature-controlled incubator that minimizes the baby's movement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The U.S. doctor in London to examine Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old boy suffering from a critical illness that has damaged his brain and rendered him unable to breathe on his own, could recommend an experimental treatment -- one which may or may not improve his outcome.

A U.K. judge extended invitations to Dr. Michio Hirano, chief of the division of Neuromuscular disorders and a professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York City, as well as a doctor from the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome who has not been named, after evidence on a new experimental treatment was presented in court last Thursday.

The doctors were each given an "honorary contract" by the Great Ormond Street Hospital to examine the baby, use its facilities, review medical records and speak with his doctors and parents.

But questions remain about whether the experimental treatment would help Charlie because it has never been tested for his specific condition.

Charlie suffers from a form of mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes progressively increasing muscle weakness that leads to organ failure and becomes life-threatening within a few years. Though he is less than a year old, the baby has been on life support for several months.

He has a rare mutated gene, the RRM2B gene. The mutation impairs his production of nucleosides, a sub-part within the DNA of his mitochondria. Mitochondria, which are called the "powerhouses" of the cells, are responsible for creating the energy to sustain cells and therefore life.

Nucleosides are required to help produce healthy mitochondrial DNA, which are necessary for mitochondria to produce energy for cells, including the energy-hungry muscles. Healthy muscle tissue is, in turn, required for organs to function normally.

That's why a lack of healthy nucleosides will lead to failure of many organs, according to the National Institutes of Health, including those required for breathing.

The experimental therapy that has been suggested for Charlie would be an oral medicine that aims to deliver the correct type of nucleoside to improve the function of his mitochondrial DNA.

The medication has been tested on mice and a small number of people with a different mitochondrial condition, some of whom have shown measurable improvement.

But the drug has never been tested on people with Charlie's specific condition. As a result, the baby's response to the experimental treatment is difficult to predict.

ABC News' Nightline reported on an American family from Baltimore who understands the trying circumstances for Charlie’s parents and recommends the experimental treatment.

Art and Olga Estopinan’s 6-year-old son Art Jr. was diagnosed with a similar type of mitochondrial depletion syndrome when he was just over a year old. Like Charlie, doctors had told his parents there was little chance of survival.

Five years ago, Art Jr. became the first child in the U.S. to receive the treatment and Hirano was the doctor who administered it.

"We were told there was no hope and no cure," Olga Estopinan told Nightline. "He was terminal and the average age for these children was 3 years old."

The Estopinans said little Art Jr. went from being on the brink of death to gaining back some motor functions. He can now find and play movies on an iPad and say "Mommy," "Daddy" and a few other words.

The medicine has not "cured" Art Jr. He requires round-the-clock care, receives three to four treatments per day, eats through a feeding tube, uses a motorized wheelchair and needs help moving his limbs, Nightline reported.

Despite those challenges, Art Jr.'s family said it has changed their son's life and recommend it.

"With all due respect to [Charlie’s doctors,] I encourage those doctors to educate themselves," Art Estopinan told Nightline. "See how these experimental medications will create the end signs that little Charlie needs so he can get stronger like my son."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than 100 million American adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to an updated report.

The data included in the report is as of 2015, at which point the CDC says, 30.3 million Americans -- more than nine percent of the population -- have diabetes. Another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that could lead to type 2 diabetes within five years if untreated.

The rate of new diabetes diagnoses remain steady, the report shows. But the disease remains the seventh leading cause of death.

"Although these finding sreveal some progress in diabetes management and prevention, there are still too many Americans with diabetes and prediabetes," said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. "Now, more than ever, we must step up our efforts to reduce the burden of this serious disease."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Bronkar and Cyndi Lee(ATLANTA) -- This baby boy literally can’t wait for his dad to drop the beat.

Bronkar Lee and his 19-month-old son, Elijah, have an impressive beatbox session in this precious Facebook video going viral, which the baby’s parents refer to as “highchair babybeats.”

“Our view is that music is just simply another language. That’s all it is,” Lee, a professional musician, told ABC News. “That moment is happening all the time at our house.”

Bronkar Lee and his wife, Cyndi Lee, a professional songwriter, said they are playing music around Elijah constantly.

“I remember the first time we incorporated him into a song we tied little bells around his ankles and he was in a bouncy seat clicking his legs along to the music. He was maybe three months clicking along to the rhythm,” said Cyndi Lee.

“He gets it 100 percent. No question about it,” Bronkar Lee added of their son. “He sings with us on key. He understands. He’s cultivating his motor skills. He’s very aware of what’s happening.”

The family from Atlanta, Georgia, said Elijah is exposed to music “every single day” and it helps the baby boy fall asleep.

“When Elijah was tiny and he had a hard time relaxing and settling down, I would take him in my arms and go into our studio and I’d make live beats and music with percussion, guitars, flute, whatever, and I’d make these beats and bounce him in my arms and he’d fall asleep with full-on music,” said Bronkar Lee. “He’s always playing music, we’re always singing together. This is an everyday event in our house.”

Bronkar Lee said he’s taught beatboxing professionally overseas and is thrilled his son enjoys it as much as his parents do. The proud dad is also happy that this special moment is resonating so well with others on social media.

“It’s real. It’s truthful. It’s authentic,” he said. “I think there’s something really powerful about that. He was right on tempo with me.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Baby boy literally can’t wait for his dad to drop the beat


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Courtesy Courtney Gilmour(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A magical day became even more magical for these kids thanks to some wonderful news from Mickey Mouse.

Janielle and Elijah Gilmour were surprised to learn their official adoption date after living with their foster parents, Courtney and Tom Gilmour, for nearly three years.

“I gave my parents a big hug because I was so excited to finally find out when the adoption date was going to be,” Janielle, 12, told ABC News. “It was amazing. They said it was going to be a magical day and it really was a magical day. I started to cry because I was so happy that we were getting adopted.”

The children, Janielle and Elijah, 10, had known they were going to be adopted but did not know the exact date.

“They were thinking they would get adopted after school got out at the end of the school year, but once we got the actual date I thought, ‘How awesome would it be to tell them there?’” mom Courtney Gilmour, of Portland, Pennsylvania, recalled of the family’s trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom in April. “We were planning a trip to the Star Wars Celebration. It was in Orlando and as we were looking at the kids’ school calendar and we saw there was an additional 24 hours we could spend down there. And the kids had never been to Disney before.”

When the family checked into their hotel, they were given Star Wars Celebration buttons to write what they were celebrating while at the park.

“I got mine and my husband’s and we wrote were celebrating ‘adopting our kids,’ and the kids wrote, ‘being adopted,’” she explained. “I took a picture of the pins and posted it to Twitter and I hashtagged 'Walt Disney World' and within minutes they had gotten back to me asking if they could do something to make our trip a little more special. I thought honestly they were going to add dessert onto our meal.”

Instead, the park arranged for the children to have a special meet and greet with Mickey Mouse to get their picture taken and autograph books signed. They had no idea Mickey also had another surprise up his sleeve, revealing a sign to announce the date they’d finally become one big, happy family.

Janielle and Elijah broke down in tears at the news.

“I wasn’t expecting them to have that reaction. Usually, you know your kids and it takes a little bit for something to click in for them,” said Courtney Gilmour. “It was something they desperately wanted -- closure on the adoption date.”

“It feels amazing,” Janielle added. “I’ve been going through a lot and it’s amazing to be adopted.”

The mom posted the video of the surprise to Facebook on July 6 where it has racked up 1.4 million views.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Sally Hawkins/ABC News(BALTIMORE) -- Baby Charlie Gard’s parents have been locked in a bitter fight for their son’s future, not only for his survival against a debilitating disease, but against the London hospital where he has been a patient since he was just 2 months old and the British courts who say his condition is too grave to continue keeping him alive.

“Our parental rights have been stripped away,” his father, Chris Gard, said in a video he and his wife posted online. “We can’t even take our own son home to die.”

Gard and his wife Connie Yates’ son Charlie, who is now 11 months old, was born with a rare form of mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a genetic disease that has left him severely brain damaged. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital say he can’t see, hear, move or cry.

His parents living in London want him to undergo an experimental treatment in the United States, but doctors say Charlie could be in pain and that the new treatment is unlikely to help him. Multiple British courts in Europe have ruled that he is too weak to travel out of the country and he should be allowed to die with dignity. It’s ignited a fierce debate between hospitals wanting to treat patients as they see fit and parents who want to make decisions for their child. In the U.K., it’s not uncommon for courts to side with hospitals over parents.

“In the U.K., doctors have somewhat more discretion than the U.S.,” said Dr. Rosamond Rhodes, a medical ethicist. “The doctor’s argument is that this child is suffering, and I haven't seen any evidence that clearly makes the case for knowing that the child is suffering.”

Charlie’s parents’ pleas have even grabbed the attention of Pope Francis, who extended his support to the family, and President Donald Trump, who tweeted, “If we can help little Charlie Gard, we would be delighted to do so.”

One American family from Baltimore understands the circumstances Charlie’s family has been going through.

Art and Olga Estopinan’s 6-year-old son Art Jr. was diagnosed with a similar mitochondrial depletion syndrome when he was just over a year old. Like Charlie, doctors had told his parents there was little chance of survival.

“We were told there was no hope and no cure,” Olga Estopinan said. “He was terminal and average age for these children was 3 years old.”

At his worst point, Olga said their son was “lying in a hospital bed and the most he could do sometimes was move his head just a little bit ... he couldn’t even shed tears.”

“He had multiple fractures in his legs and his arms and he couldn’t cry,” Art Estopinan added. “His disease was really advanced and he was basically dying on us.”

But what his parents call a miracle appeared in the form of a pioneering experimental treatment called nucleoside therapy. Art Jr. was the first child in the U.S. to get the treatment five years ago.

Dr. Michio Hirano of Columbia University Medical Center in New York administered their first trial, along with other doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“We were very lucky,” Olga Estopinan said. “His geneticist Ada Hamash ... [was] like, ‘There’s hope for this, let’s go ahead and try,’ and I will never, ever in my mind forget how special that women is.”

The Estopinans said little Art Jr. went from being on the brink of death to gaining back some motor functions. He can now find and play movies on an iPad and say “mommy, daddy,” and a few other words.

“He’s a determined little boy,” Art Estopinan said.

But even with his incredible progress, the Estopinans are quick to note that the treatment their son had is not a cure for his condition. Art Jr. requires round-the-clock care. He gets three to four treatments per day, is fed through a feeding tube, is in a motorized wheelchair and needs help moving his limbs.

“We have like six alarms, and he has like eight different machines to keep him alive,” Art Estopinan said. “And no matter in the middle of the night, when we hear one of the alarms, we both jump up.”

Dr. Mary Kay Koenig is a specialist in mitochondrial disease at the Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, and said the earlier a patient shows symptoms, “the more severe the outcome” is for the patient.

“Patients develop muscle weakness. They can develop nerve damage. They can develop seizures,” Koenig said. “Unfortunately right now there are no therapies that we know of that can stop the progression of the mitochondrial disease.”

But despite that, the Estopinans say they would rather have Art Jr. as he is than not have him at all. The Estopinans say they share Charlie’s parents’ suffering.

“With all due respect to [Charlie’s doctors,] … I encourage those doctors ... to educate themselves,” Art Estopinan said. “See how these experimental medications will create the end signs that little Charlie needs so he can get stronger like my son.”

Last week, Charlie's parents won a small victory when the British High Court ruled that Charlie could be evaluated by the same doctor who helped Art Jr., Dr. Michio Hirano. Hirano flew to London to examine Charlie and the hospital expects to release an assessment by Thursday.

Charlie’s parents have raised nearly $1.7 million to pay for the experimental treatment in the U.S. with Hirano, but the attention is on Charlie’s brain condition and whether or not the proposed treatment can help reverse the disease or if there is already too much damage. Their hope is that their son will be Hirano's next patient.

“What other options do we have?” Charlie's mother, Connie Yates, told the BBC. “Charlie’s our son, we love him, and we will fight to the bitter end for him.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Spending more time in the sun is a big part of summer but it takes a toll on us, and it can be deadly. In the fourth episode of ABC News' "Healthy Living for Summer" series, we look at how we can take care of our skin while relaxing outside.

Dr. Adriana Schmidt has been a general medical dermatologist for seven years. Working in Southern California, Schmidt said she spends a lot of time on skin exams.

"Sunscreen is the least protective form of sun protection," Schmidt said.

Below is her advice on staying protected outdoors in the sun.

Quick tips

  • Wear protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats, bandanas and long sleeves
  • Cover your head, neck, ears, shoulders and chest
  • Try to avoid peak hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Stay in the shade
  • Reapply sunscreen every one to two hours, and make sure it's at least SPF 30
  • Look at the ingredients in sunscreen (use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens, and at least 5 percent is best)

"For kids, zinc and titanium are probably the safest because they don’t have chemical sunscreen ingredients," Schmidt said.

And if you're worried about wrinkles, the best advice is to "get the least amount of UV radiation during peak hours, and if you are outside wear clothing, hats and sunscreen," she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- As they mourn the loss of their newborn daughter, a couple in Iowa are warning parents about whom they allow around their babies in those early days after birth, when infants' immune systems are incredibly fragile.

"Just keep your babies isolated," Nicole Sifrit of West Des Moines, Iowa, told ABC affiliate WQAD-TV recently. "Just don't let anyone come and visit them. Make sure [visitors] constantly are washing their hands. Don't let people kiss your baby. Make sure they ask before they pick up your baby."

On July 1, Nicole Sifrit gave birth to a healthy baby girl, whom she named Mariana Reese Sifrit. Six days later, Nicole Sifrit married Mariana's father, Shane Sifrit.

Hours after the wedding, however, the newlyweds said the baby had stopped eating and appeared lethargic so they rushed her to a hospital. On Tuesday, Mariana died. She was 18 days old.

The Sifrits told WQAD-TV that doctors had diagnosed Mariana with meningitis linked to HSV-1, a form of herpes that can cause cold sores. The Sifrits said herpes led to meningitis, which caused Mariana's death.

Recent research suggests newborns can catch the virus in a variety of ways but most commonly it is acquired via transmission from mother to baby during childbirth.

Of neonatal HSV infections, the article said, 5 percent are acquired in utero, 85 percent are acquired during childbirth and 10 percent are acquired after birth from contact with someone with an active infection.

Both parents were reportedly tested for the virus but their results came back negative. According to the Sifrits, doctors told them Mariana had likely contracted the virus from a kiss by someone with the virus.

"I always thought, like, this is stuff that just happens and it' a shame and never really, never thought it would happen to me ... [I] was not prepared at all," Shane Sifrit told WQAD-TV.

The Sifrits documented Mariana's hospital stay on Facebook, posting that she'd had six blood transfusions. Mariana was later sent from Blank Children's Hospital to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, where she died.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Nicole Sifrit thanked supporters for their prayers.

"Our princess Mariana Reese Sifrit gained her angel wings at 8:41 am this morning in her daddy's arms and her mommy right beside her," Nicole Sifrit wrote. She is now no longer suffering and is with the Lord. Thank you to everyone who has followed her journey and supported us through this. In her 18 days of life she made a huge impact on the world and we hope with Mariana's story we save numerous newborns life. R.I.P. sweet angel."

ABC News' attempts to reach the Sifrits were unsuccessful.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo.) -- A Chick-fil-A employee is being hailed after performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking co-worker.

Andrew Myrant was on his break in a Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Chick-fil-A location when he noticed the co-worker signaling that he had food stuck in his throat.

As seen in a video, Myrant stands up and uses the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the piece of food.

After his co-worker could breathe again, Myrant can be seen calmly sitting back down to finish his own meal.

Myrant is pretty modest about what happened.

"I mean, it makes me feel pretty awkward because I don't feel like it, but they say 'hero' a lot, and one of my managers bought me a sandwich for the other day, so that was nice," he said.

The manager of the location, south of Denver, said Myrant is a student at a local college. Myrant told Colorado media that he learned the Heimlich maneuver in high school.

The co-worker was able to return to work after the scary experience.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed ROUGE, La.) -- Julia Hawkins, 101, knows a thing or two about going the distance, and with a nickname like “Hurricane,” you can be sure that speed and power are on her radar, too.

On Saturday, the Baton Rouge centenarian set a world record by completing the 100-meter dash in 40.12 seconds, the fastest time for her age group.

Hawkins’ life as an athlete began at age 81. Two decades later, she still has a fire in her belly that’s aimed at the finish line.

“I’m competitive and I’ve always been and I liked that I did win,” Hawkins told ABC affiliate WBRZ-TV.

She is the oldest female competitor in USA Track and Field history, WBRZ-TV reported.

Hawkins said she is also inspired by the memory of her late husband.

“He would be very pleased, I know, and to please him pleases me,” she added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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KABC-TV(SHERMAN OAKS, Calif.) -- A California couple’s Uber ride took an unexpected turn Friday night after a woman gave birth inside the car.

Niv Davidovich told ABC News that minutes after entering the backseat of the car, his wife, Erica, gave birth to a son.

“Everyone is telling us to name the baby Uber,” Niv Davidovich joked. “But we can’t do that -- as much fun as it would be."

Davidovich, 37, a father of three, said that the couple was at home lighting candles for Shabbat when Erica began to experience strong contractions. Because Davidovich and his wife do not drive while observing the Sabbath, he said he called an Uber to bring them to the hospital. He also wanted to be able to comfort Erica in the backseat, he added.

"We got a minute out onto the road and by that point, she said, 'Call 911. I think the baby is coming right now,'" Davidovich recalled. "We got one block and she said, 'My water broke.'"

"The driver was doing everything he could. He was running red lights, basically trying to get there as quick as possible," he added.

Davidovich dialed 911 and the driver, Raymond Telles, remained on the phone with the police dispatcher.

Soon after, at 8:43 p.m., Telles pulled over in front of a grocery story on West Riverside Drive in Sherman Oaks, and Erica gave birth to a baby boy.

Erica, 31, and her son, who weighed 6 pounds, 12.5 ounces, were transported to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.

"The driver happened to have a big old white towel sitting there," Davidovich said. "I grabbed the towel and covered the baby. He was still on the phone with 911 getting paramedics to come. He pretty much spoke to 911 the whole time. He was amazing."

The Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed on their Facebook page that the Uber driver was the primary assistant in "the successful delivery of a newborn in the vehicle."

An Uber spokesman confirmed Telles was the driver who assisted in the delivery of the Davidovich's baby.

Telles did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Baby Davidovich joins big sisters Chana, 5, Rivka, 3 and Elisheva, 1. The baby's name is not being shared for religious reasons, Davidovich said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy Hillcrest Hospital(MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio) -- One 90-year-old grandmother is keeping herself plenty busy.

Barbara Lowe has hand knit thousands of tiny hats for babies born inside Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, since 2009.

To date, Lowe has delivered 2,252 hats to the hospital, located just footsteps away from her senior complex home, right across the street.

The matriarch, who retired after working 25 years in the "jewelry business," started by knitting hats for her family and friends," she told ABC News. And after a family member suggested she make them for a hospital for newborns, she was on board.

It takes Lowe four hours to knit just one ribbed hat with a brim, which she makes in a variety of colors -- pale pink, pale blue, pale green, pale yellow and even combinations.

"I buy strictly 'baby yarn,' which is a finer, nicer yarn," she told ABC News. "And I have a signature flower that I put on there."

Lowe notes that she makes the flower detachable, just in case the family thinks it's a bit too feminine.

The grandmother said she learned how to crochet and sew from her mother when she was 10 or 11 years old. She had to teach herself how to knit because her mother didn't know how.

"It's my therapy," Lowe said. "When you're 90, you've got aches and pains. You don't want to think about it. Well, you're not thinking about it if you're concentrating on what you're doing."

Lowe, who has two daughters, 11 grandchildren (when you count their spouses), and 11-great-grandchildren, said she has no plans of stopping because "it just makes me feel so good."

Mary Bartos, the director of Women's & Children's Services at Hillcrest Hospital, said it's also making the families there feel good as well.

"They’re just pleased to have a gift. They’re excited to have the uniqueness," she said. "They're touched."

Lowe said for her it's more than just giving a gift.

"When you’re on this earth, you only have a limited time and you want to leave something behind when you leave," she said. "Here am I, 90 years old, [and I asked myself,] 'What have I really accomplished?'"

"Then all of a sudden this breaks through. I can't believe it. It’s almost a dream," Lowe added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Carrie Barron(PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- When a cat-loving teacher heard about a friend's feline with mobility issues, she had an innovative idea to use 3D printing to help get the kitten moving a little easier.

Carrie Barron from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, adopted a loving and feisty 6-month-old Maine Coon kitten named Ray from the Odd Cat Sanctuary in Salem, Massachusetts, despite his physical limitations.

Veterinary experts warned Barron that Ray had an inoperable spinal condition that had immobilized the animal's hind legs, but Barron fell in love anyway.

"He's a special little guy," Barron told ABC News.

Her neighbor and fellow cat lover Erin Bakkom came up with an idea that would be beneficial for Ray as well as educational for her students at Portsmouth Middle School.

Bakkom assigned her eighth-graders to split into two teams and create a 3D-printed design concept for a wheelchair for Ray.

"[Erin] came over to visit Ray and proposed the idea -- I thought it was an amazing idea and was on board immediately! I thought Ray would really enjoy it and it was a great opportunity for the students to create something for someone [in this case Ray] in the community," Barron said.

The local public library next door to the school has a 3D printer and encourages the community to send in designs.

"I was obviously very excited when she emailed me," Michaela Pugh, an emerging technologies assistant for the Portsmouth Public Library, told ABC News. "This is what our goal was, to have people come up with real world applications and it gave us a chance to work with students and help them with their designs so they could see the whole 3D printing design and re-design process," Pugh explained.

Just before summer vacation last month, the two designs became a reality. Barron brought Ray to the classroom and he was fitted for two different prototypes.

"He was not a fan at first," Laura Horwood-Benton, a community relations librarian, told ABC News. "He was kind of biting on the Velcro and playing with it," she said.

But Ray's two wheelchairs made with Razor scooter wheels and a 3D-printed frame were both very promising to help the kitten become more mobile.

"He's just going to take some time to get used to it," Pugh said confidently.

And the cat's owner said she is sure that the wheelchairs will be successful for Ray.

"We have been working with Ray and getting him more comfortable with the wheelchair. We are working to modify it a bit as the initial design allowed him to pivot, but we are hoping to have the modified chair ready very soon," Barron said.

The library staff along with Barron and Bakkom all said this was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

"The experience of watching the students connect and create something for Ray was very impactful for both Erin and I. In many shelters Ray would likely have been euthanized. He's an incredibly special guy who is very happy and loves life," Barron said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.








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