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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal and state health officials are investigating an outbreak of the dangerous Seoul virus, which has sickened at least eight people after they came into contact with infected pet rats.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control deployed two epidemiologists over the weekend and is working with the Illinois and Wisconsin Departments of Health to respond to the virus, the agency said. The Illinois Department of Health is looking for people who either purchased or were exposed to any infected rats, a spokeswoman said Monday, noting that it is also looking to find out where the infected rats where purchased from.

The Seoul virus is part of the Hantavirus family and can cause fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, or rash. In rare cases it can cause kidney disease, according to the CDC.

Officials first discovered the outbreak when a home-breeder of pet rats was hospitalized last December with fever, headache and other Seoul virus symptoms in Wisconsin. Blood tests revealed the patient was suffering from the rare virus and during the investigation a close family member, who also worked with pet rats, was found to have the virus as well, according to the CDC.

The patients ultimately recovered from the virus.

Investigators then looked the rat breeders that supplied the rats to the first patient. They found six of those rat breeders also tested positive for the virus. The CDC epidemiologists are now searching to see if any other customers who bought pet rats might be ill and to ensure any infected rats are not sold.

"These efforts will help determine how the two individuals in Wisconsin were initially exposed to Seoul virus and allow public health officials to take actions to prevent future spread of the virus," the CDC said in a statement.

The virus is carried by wild Norway rats throughout the globe and several outbreaks of the virus have been reported in wild rats in the U.S. This is the first time the outbreak has started in pet rats, according to the CDC. The virus was named Seoul virus after it was first reported in the South Korean capital.

The virus cannot be transmitted from person-to-person, but it can be transmitted from an infected rat to a person via bodily fluids or a bite.

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Kids for Peace(NEW YORK) — The founders of the "Great Kindness Challenge," a grassroots campaign aimed at spreading goodwill and happiness in schools across the country, appeared on Good Morning America Monday to share the work they are doing to make the world a better place.

Jill McManigal, 52, from Carlsbad, California, said that she originally started the Great Kindness Challenge in her backyard with her children, who were only seven and four years old at the time, and their neighborhood friends. Together, the group formed what became "Kids for Peace," an international non-profit that spearheaded the Great Kindness Challenge, a challenge taken by schools and youth groups to perform as many acts of kindness from a list 50 acts as possible over the course of the week.

"My inspiration is creating a world where everyone is loved and cared for and happy," McManigal told ABC News. "The mission of the Great Kindness Challenge is to create school environments where all students thrive."

"We want all children and all students to recognize the goodness in others, and this gives them the platform to do that," McManigal said of the challenge.

In 2012, she brought the challenge to three local schools in her community, including the elementary school her children attended. The following year, 263 schools participated in the challenge. This year, more than 12,000 schools, and over 10 million students across the country, are participating in the challenge.

To participate in the Great Kindness Challenge, students receive a checklist of 50 simple, kind, acts that they can accomplish. Students are encouraged to try and complete all 50 random acts of kindness over the course of one week. Some of the items on the list are as simple as smiling at 25 people, while others might encourage students to step out of their comfort zones by sitting with someone new at lunch.

Richard Tubbs, the principal of Hope Elementary School in Carlsbad, Calif., which was one of the first schools to implement the Great Kindness Challenge, said in a statement that he believes "it’s very important that everyone is always thinking about ways to be kind."

"We just want everyone to be able to share that same kindness wherever they go in their community, around the world," Tubbs added.

McManigal said the reaction to the challenge at schools has been overwhelmingly positive.

"I see that everyone is just a bit more or a lot more happier," McManigal said. "There is such a power in doing for others, and also from receiving."

McManigal added that teachers have also been very supportive of the Great Kindness Challenge in their schools because it "because they see their students reaching out to each other and being very conscious of their actions and words, so it makes for a happier and healthier learning environment."

The materials that educators need to implement the Great Kindness Challenge in their schools is all free, according to McManigal, who added that they have over 25,000 volunteers with their organization working to implement the challenge in local schools.

McManigal added that the joy that the program brings to schools and communities is "palpable."

"As the children are given permission to go out there and really exert their kindness," McManigal said. "It creates this joy that is palpable on campuses."

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

Not too long ago, the governor of Florida announced that his state was clear of locally-transmitted cases of the Zika virus for the first time since July. But this is no time to drop our guard when it comes to this potentially deadly virus, especially if you are pregnant or are planning to start a family.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Zika virus is capable of replicating itself in the placenta, which could explain why it appears to lead to more health complications for a developing fetus, including the birth defect microcephaly.

Here’s my take: Remember that sacrificing a trip can potentially prevent a devastating birth defect or pregnancy loss. Control the things that are in your control, and elective travel is one of those things.

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Darick Mead(HASTINGS, Neb.) -- Darick Mead didn't want to propose to his girlfriend of a year and a half while she was pregnant with their first child.

"I didn't want to do it just because of my son. I wanted to do it because it felt good in my heart," he told ABC News.

Still, the proud father couldn't wait to pop the question to Susan Medina, and in fact, did so in the hospital with the help of his newborn son, Ryder.

Mead, 26, and Medina, 20, met on the social network MeetMe.com. They later connected on Facebook and after one date, "we've been inseparable," Mead said.

The Hastings, Nebraska, father said he didn't tell anyone -- including his family -- about his proposal, which he planned to do on the same day as his son's birth.

But he did commission the couple's friend, Katie, to help with the planning, including securing a onesie that she decorated with the words, "Mommy, will you marry my daddy?"

The day didn't quite go as planned, however.

"She was in labor for over 17 hours and she pushed for two-and-a-half hours," Mead said. "Three epidurals later and ... Ryder was born via emergency C-section."

It had been a trying day for the couple, so Mead decided to delay his plan by one day to "give her a break."

For the big moment, Mead had to convince his bride-to-be that the nurses wanted to check on their son outside of their hospital room. That's when he placed the miniature onesie on Ryder and carried him back into the room under the ruse that the nurses wanted Medina to practice changing Ryder's diaper.

Friends and family pulled out their cell phones to "capture the baby's first diaper change," and that's when Medina unwrapped Ryder, dressed in the proposal onesie, and Mead dropped down to one knee.

"I don't even remember what exactly I was feeling. I just know that I started crying out of nowhere," Medina told ABC News. "I did not expect that to happen."

"I was even waiting for him to say, 'Oh just kidding,'" she added. "I’m pretty sure I asked him, 'Are you sure?'"

Mead was very sure, and now he says he's looking forward to beginning their new life together as a family.

The two haven't begun wedding planning just yet, they say. For now, they're enjoying all of their milestones.

"I've got everything that I could ever ask for right now," the future groom said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A number of governments and charities have committed $460 million to fastrack vaccines to fight Mers, Lassa fever, and the Nipah virus according to BBC News. Scientists say the three relatively little known diseases could potentially cause a global health emergency.

The governments and charities are asking for more assistance, calling on funders at the World Economic Forum Davos to raise another $500 million.

BBC reports new vaccines take around a decade to develop, but The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) wants to have two experimental vaccines developed within the next five years.

Jeremy Farrar, director of the Welcome Trust, a biomedical research charity based in London, told the BBC, "In the modern world with urbanisation and travel, 21st Century epidemics could start in a big city and then take off the way Ebola did in West Africa."

Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Zika, another major virus outbreak in Brazil, has left thousands of children brain-damaged.

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Lauren LaPorta(TEANECK, N.J.) -- For Lauren LaPorta it was tough to lose weight.

The 28-year-old high school guidance counselor spends most of her days in a wheelchair after a diving accident in 2000 left her with a severe spinal cord injury and an initial diagnosis as quadriplegic.

On that day 17 years ago, LaPorta had just come home from a middle school swim meet when she was playing with her friends in her backyard swimming pool.

"I've dove into a pool a thousand times, but this one particular dive, I slipped ... and went directly straight down," she recalled. "My hands hit the bottom and gave way. Everything just went numb."

She was only 11 at the time, but the reality of how serious her injury was started to sink in when when doctors told her that she had shattered her C5 vertebrae in the middle of her spinal cord.

And, she said that she started "grasping the meaning behind it" when doctors told her she'd have to learn how to dress herself again, sit up again and how to stand up again.

After a year and intense physical therapy, LaPorta was able to begin moving her limbs again.

Still, one of the challenges of constantly being in a wheelchair was that she drastically gained weight. At her heaviest, LaPorta was 240 pounds. She blames mostly fast food restaurants.

"When you're in a wheelchair and it’s hard for you to get in and out of your car so many times a day, you're more likely to go to drive-throughs," she said.

But thanks to her trainer, Erica Little of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, LaPorta lost more than 40 pounds since August. It's a true feat for a woman who can only walk a couple of steps at a time using a cane, a walker, or by holding someone's hand.

Working out was initially extremely difficult, LaPorta said.

"Our first attempt on getting on a treadmill, walking, I fell off," she recalled. "I tried it again [recently], and was able to step right up and we walked for five minutes."

LaPorta also changed her diet, adding more fruits and vegetables to her daily intake.

Now, with her weight on the decline, LaPorta said she feels even more confident to continue fighting her paralysis.

"I still have my down days. I still have days where I question, 'Why me? I don't feel like doing this today,' or I wake up and don't feel good bodywise," LaPorta admitted. "But you just keep going.

"I have the inner strength to overcome such an injury and keep fighting every single day, and find new ways to motivate myself."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) --  Amy Craton first enrolled to get her bachelor of arts degree in 1962, but had to leave school to raise her four children.

More than 50 years later the 94-year-old finally earned her degree in Creative Writing and English thanks to Southern New Hampshire University's online program. Craton graduated late last year with a 4.0 GPA, the school said.

"It feels good to graduate, but in many ways I feel I am still on the road; I have more to learn," Craton said, according to the school's website.

 Because she wasn't able to travel to New Hampshire for her graduation, the Waikiki, Hawaii, resident was surprised with her own private graduation ceremony Monday.

Even SNHU President Paul LeBlanc flew out to attend. Craton was also feted by family, friends and SNHU alumni, living in Hawaii.

 LeBlanc said in a statement, "Amy is the epitome of a lifelong learner, and my hope is that her story will remind others that it's never too late to follow their dreams or learn something new. The entire SNHU community could not be more proud of her accomplishment."

Craton's academic adviser, who she had never met before in person, Chrisandra Bauer, also attended the ceremony, which featured a local band and even a cake.

 "Amy has inspired so many people by finishing her degree and it has been an absolute pleasure working with her on her academic journey," Bauer said in a statement. "I am so happy that I was able to be here today to celebrate her success."

According to the school, Craton now plans to pursue her Master's degree.

"If you're thinking about going back to school, do it. You'll open up a whole new life," the mother of four said.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sitting at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office for the first time, President Donald Trump signed an executive order "minimizing the economic burden" of Obamacare, and signed commissions for Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly.

Standing at Trump's side were Vice President Mike Pence, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Priebus laid out the executive order on Trump's desk titled "Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal."

 

Signing documents to allow Mattis and Kelly to be sworn into Cabinet and an executive order on #Obamacare. https://t.co/zg3WP9w8xC pic.twitter.com/OMOGLTkCDA

— President Trump (@POTUS) January 21, 2017

 

It was a moment Trump promised his supporters during the 2016 campaign--he vowed that on day one of his administration he would “ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.”

The order says that until the Affordable Care Act is repealed, the executive branch must take actions to “minimize the unwarranted and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.”

The order also calls for the leaders of all federal agencies to prevent any Obamacare actions that would cause any regulatory or fiscal burden. New White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not offer details on exactly how this new order would be carried out when questioned by reporters this evening.

“Chief of Staff Reince Preibus will send out a memo to all agencies and departments that will ask them to abide by a regulatory freeze going forward until further notified,” Spicer said of the executive order.

The Affordable Care Act was a signature piece of legislation for the Obama administration. But repealing Obama’s landmark bill was a cornerstone of the 2016 Republican platform. Out on the trail, Trump called Obamacare “a disaster.”

Republican leaders in Congress have gone back and forth on timeline—and procedure—for repealing and replacing Obamacare, attempting to quell constituent fears they could lose their health insurance if changes are enacted.

During an appearance on This Week, Pence told ABC’s Martha Raddatz, “Any American who has insurance today, through an ‘Obamacare’ exchange or through the Obama plan itself, should have no anxiety about losing their insurance.”

It was a message reiterated during the contentious hearing for Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, with Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "Nobody is interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody," said Price.

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Courtesy Steve Smith (PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- The family of a young girl with terminal brain cancer is carrying out her wishes to "see the world."

"She has talked about a lot of different vacation spots," mom Stacie Brill, 34, told ABC News. "She said, 'We can go anywhere, even Hawaii!' She's so undecided because she doesn't know what she wants to do. We are just trying to do little things to keep her happy and put a smile on her face from here on out."

Ciara Brill, 9, had been having headaches and developed a lazy eye the day after Christmas, when her mother rushed her to the hospital. On Dec. 29, 2016. Ciara was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive brain tumor, her mother said.

"The doctor was very blunt about it ... came out and said terminal upon diagnosis," dad Harold Brill, 41, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, told ABC News. "It was completely unbelievable. Still, two-and-a-half weeks later we can't comprehend it. Being told you don't have a lot of time left with your daughter, a lot of thoughts race through your head. The baby in our family. It's unimaginable."

"She's always bubbly, happy-go-lucky. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her dad," he added. "She has the biggest heart of gold."

Ciara is a patient at Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliate of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, the hospital confirmed to ABC News.

On Jan. 25, Ciara will begin radiation five times a week for six weeks, her parents said.

To help create "joy" for Ciara, her aunt launched a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses -- and her wish to travel.

So far, the family has booked a weekend getaway at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park and hotel, The Boston Aquarium and the Museum of Science in Boston. They hope to plan a trip to New York.

"We are keeping it fairly local for the next six weeks due to radiation therapy," Harold Brill said. "After that ... off to see the world, whatever she wants to go and see and do."

Stacie Brill said she hopes her story raises awareness for DIPG. "There's no cure. There's a zero-percent survival rate," she said. "It's about how we need more research and funding to go to this."

In the meantime, the parents are trying to make Ciara's time as positive as possible.

"She's still smiling and happy, [but] she gets nervous, so we try and explain it as best as possible," Stacie Brill said. "We try and keep smiles on our faces so she's not scared scared, but it's hard."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Within hours of Donald Trump's becoming the 45th president of the United States, his administration announced its commitment to eliminate the Climate Action Plan, according to a posting on the White House's official website.

The announcement, on WhiteHouse.gov, was made shortly after Trump's swearing-in.

"President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule," the website states. "Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years."

It continues, "We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. The Trump administration is also committed to clean coal technology and to reviving America's coal industry, which has been hurting for too long."

Trump has called climate change a "hoax" and vowed to cut U.S. funding to United Nations climate change programs.

Other noticeable changes to the official White House website include a revised foreign policy plan, which promises to "work with international partners to cut off funding for terrorist groups, to expand intelligence sharing and to engage in cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable propaganda and recruiting."

Also, the site has a statement titled "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community," which reads that the "dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump administration will end it."

Regarding his call to build a wall on the border with Mexico, "President Trump is committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities," the site says.

Trump also vowed online to renegotiate NAFTA and pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Finally, the Trump administration announced its goals to "Make America strong again," pledging to "end the defense sequester and submit a new budget to Congress outlining a plan to rebuild our military."

Also noteworthy: The first petition on WhiteHouse.gov calls for Trump to "immediately release" his "full tax returns. More than 2,700 people have signed it thus far.

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Courtesy Esmarlin Nunez(PLEASANTVILLE, N.J.) -- One preschooler stood tall this month thanks to a stranger's kind donation that helped him take his very first steps.

Luis Tamarez, 4, a student at North Main Street Elementary School in Pleasantville, New Jersey, took his steps this month using an Upsee mobility device and again Friday with his mom and stepdad watching.

"I have no words to describe what I felt," Luis' stepfather, Argenis Borbon, told ABC News Friday. "It's phenomenal just by seeing my son's face. It's incredible. These people in the school, they've been so great to him.

“He doesn't want to miss a day. Even on the weekends he wants to come back here and we are very grateful for that."

Luis has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. His teacher, Amy Cutler, said Luis has an "incredible spirit" and is loved by his peers and educators alike.

Cutler said she learned about the Upsee in December from a fellow teacher. It is a harness that attaches to another person and allows a child with motor impairment to stand upright and walk with assistance from that person.

Cutler began researching crowdfunding pages to raise money for the $500 Upsee for Luis.

Yorel Browne, a substitute teacher at North Main Street Elementary and former principal, was intrigued by Cutler's idea.

Browne also works as an Uber driver and was chatting one day with a local businessman whom he was driving to Atlantic City. The two made small talk that led to a random act of kindness.

"I'm telling this story of how great this kid was ... who has a disability and is so enthused to help himself," Browne recalled. "He said, 'Wait a minute, you don't have to do a fundraiser, I will write a check to cover this device.' We brought the gentleman to the school. He wrote a check for $500."

Jim Burke, 49, of Mays Landing, New Jersey, was the stranger riding in Browne's Uber that day. He is the owner of a local heating, ventilation and air conditioning company.

Burke told said he donated the money for Luis' Upsee simply because he was in the "right place, at the right time."

"It was a no-brainer. It touched me," he said. "It didn't even take a split second. It was a very easy decision."

Burke was invited to the school Jan. 5 to witness Luis use his Upsee for the first time while attached to his one-on-one aid, Collins Days.

"He was just overjoyed and smiling. … I remember him saying, 'I'm walking,’" Burke said.

Luis' mother, Esmarlin Nunez, said she cannot thank Burke enough for his generosity toward her son.

"It's something that doesn't have a price," she said. "I have no words to describe it."


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Republican lawmakers promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act under the new administration, researchers have been working to understand how people who gained coverage after the ACA's passage will be affected.

Those most at risk for losing coverage are more likely to be poor, have a chronic illness or be unemployed, according to a study published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The groups more likely to lose coverage also visited their doctors more often, according to the study, which examined demographic data of people who had coverage or tax credits thanks to ACA provisions.

Dr. Pinar Karaca-Mandic, lead author of the study, told ABC News that the goal was to get hard data on the people who would be affected by a repeal of the ACA.

"This is not a simulation exercise," Karaca-Mandic said. "We used data from the National Health Interview Survey."

Approximately 20 million people have gained health care coverage after the ACA was passed in 2010, according to the study.

Currently, 10.4 million individuals have private insurance policies acquired through an exchange. Of these individuals, 84 percent had incomes that were 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Individuals who make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for tax credits to help pay for health insurance. The federal poverty level income is $11,880 for an individual and $24,300 for a family of four.

It remains unclear if repealing the ACA and replacing it with an alternate plan will imperil these individuals' coverage in the future, the study authors said.

The researchers from multiple institutions, including the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, examined federal data to understand who would be affected if the tax credits provided by the ACA were stopped and Medicaid expansion was repealed.

To understand the demographics of the people who would be affected by a repeal of the ACA, researchers looked at three cohorts of financial status. These cohorts were adults who get tax credits because they made less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, childless adults who became eligible for Medicaid coverage after the ACA's passage, and parents or caretakers enrolled in Medicaid whose income was between 50 to 139 percent of the federal poverty level.

The people most likely to be affected by an ACA repeal were minorities, the poor, unemployed people and people with chronic medical conditions, researchers found. They also found that these people were more likely to have been to an emergency room at least once or have seen a doctor 10 or more times in the previous year.

Christine Eibner, an economist and professor at Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, California, who has conducted other research on the ACA, said the new JAMA study echoes past predictions on who would be affected by a repeal of the ACA.

"It substantiates the model estimates," Eibner told ABC News. "This takes actual data and looks at who was enrolled."

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

When a baby is delivered through natural childbirth, the process transfers special micro-organisms to the newborn. The effect is a reduced risk of autoimmune disease, asthma and allergies.

But when a baby is delivered via C-section, those same organisms don’t get transferred. That’s why some doctors are using a practice known as "vaginal seeding," which involves using gauze or a swab to "transfer" maternal fluids to the infant’s face, mouth and body.

At this time, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend routine seeding practices due to insufficient research to support its benefit over its risks.

If you’re expecting and you have questions about this practice, talk to your obstetrician or midwife.

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WABC(NEW YORK) --  Two police officers on Long Island, New York, used an eyedropper to save the life of a newborn baby who was not breathing, police said.

Officers Steven Golub and Devin Humphreys of the Northport Village Police Department responded to a call on Jan. 14 at 5:05 p.m. of a woman in labor at a home in Northport, located within the town of Huntington on Long Island, New York, police said in a statement.

While the officers were dispatched, 911 operator Dana Gunther remained on the line with the male caller, who said the baby girl was born on the bathroom floor. Gunther gave the caller instructions on how to care for the newborn. But it soon became clear the baby was not breathing, police said.

As Gunther provided the caller with instructions on how to revive the baby, the police officers arrived at the home and found the mother on the bathroom floor with the newborn in her arms and the umbilical cord still attached, police said. The baby girl had turned dark blue and was unconscious, police said.

“I saw the mom sitting on the floor of the bathroom and she was holding the baby,” Golub told ABC's New York station WABC. “I immediately knew the baby was turning blue, and I knew the baby needed to start breathing.”

 The other officer, Humphreys, took the newborn in her arms and discovered she was suffering from a “complete airway obstruction,” police said, but the officer was unable to clear the baby’s airway with her finger.

“I called over my shoulder,” Humphreys told WABC. “I was like, ‘Get me a turkey baster, anything with suction.’”

The officers were able to find an eyedropper inside the home and used it to remove fluid from the baby’s nose, mouth and throat. The newborn eventually began to breathe, cough and cry, police said.

“When I was clearing out her mouth, she bit me on the finger,” Humphreys said of the baby girl. “She started to make little cries as I was going, so I knew it was working. So, I kept going until EMS got there.”

The Northport Village Fire Department rescue squad arrived on scene and administered medical care to the newborn, police said. The mother and her newborn daughter were transported to Huntington Hospital, where police say both are expected to make a full recovery.

"When you're dealing with children, especially a newborn infant, the emotions can get the best of you," Northport Village Police Department Chief Bill Ricca told ABC News. "Even though the most seasoned officer can turn around and hesitate, these two officers just jumped right in and did what they had to do."

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iStock/Thinkstock(FARGO, N.D.) -- When he was just 9 days old, Phoenix Saulter suffered a stroke so damaging that his doctors told his parents that the newborn wouldn't survive.

"There was so much clotting and no blood leaving his brain," Phoenix's father, Robert Saulter, told ABC News. "The only thing to do was to give him some pain medications and to try to stay with him till he passed."

Saulter and his wife, Genevieve Saulter, were inconsolable until neurosurgeon Dr. Alexander Drofa of Sanford Brain and Spine Center in Fargo, North Dakota, spoke up. He would do a surgery to remove the clot and give the infant a slim chance for survival.

"He said he couldn't live with that. ... He couldn't deal with not doing anything," Robert Saulter recalled Drofa saying.

Today, just over a year after the surgery, Saulter and his wife are speaking about the incredible survival of their only child in the hopes of helping other parents or doctors facing a similar situation.

"Anything we can do to drive attention to that," Robert Saulter said. "Because his exact procedure [may] help another kid."

At the time Phoenix was born, Robert Saulter, 32, was stationed at an Air Force base in Minton, North Dakota. After showing signs of distress and dehydration, Phoenix was taken to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota, at 9 days old. It was there that Drofa discovered that the newborn had suffered a stroke.

After physicians discovered the potentially deadly condition, the Saulters planned to say goodbye to their son. However, Drofa proposed an alternate plan. He offered to perform a procedure to remove the clot from the blood vessel to the brain and put in a stent, giving Phoenix a slim chance at survival.

"He regularly performs that procedure on adults [but it had] never been done on a newborn," Saulter said. "He was willing to try it."

To perform the surgery, Drofa and his team also had to find a way to quickly operate with medical supplies designed for adult stroke patients.

"One of the things that made the procedure possible ... we had lots of experience here and were able to MacGyver" a solution, Drofa told ABC News. He explained the team searched for "the smallest device" they used in adults so that they could use it on Phoenix.

At the time, Drofa didn't want Phoenix's parents to hope for too much and told them the chances of Phoenix surviving and recovering fully remained small. As Phoenix was wheeled into surgery, both Robert and Genevieve Saulter, 34, thought they may never see their son alive again.

"They let me pick him up with all the tubes," Robert Saulter said. "He wasn't really breathing without the bag and [they] let me hold him in my arms and let me tell him goodbye."

For hours, the Saulters waited for word of whether their son had survived the surgery.

"It was the worst part -- just waiting and waiting," Genevieve Saulter said. "They had us in a room and we just waited for the phone call and the doctor said he would let us know either way."

Drofa and the other doctors were able to remove the clot and put in the stent, but they also had to figure out how much medication to give the infant to keep the clots from reforming. The anticoagulant commonly used in adult stroke patients had not been tested in newborns.

"We had to custom make the dose," Drofa said.

After the surgery, Phoenix was taken back to the intensive care unit as both his parents and doctors anxiously waited to see how he would do. A day after the operation, Drofa said the tests showed blood pumping normally in his brain and no new clots.

"I was surprised because we didn't know what was going to happen. ... He didn't show any deficit," Drofa said.

Phoenix's parents had been bracing for the worst. But 24 hours after the surgery, with promising test results, they said they started to hope for the best.

"That's when we did feel hopeful again," Genevieve Saulter said.

For the next few months, doctors kept a close eye on Phoenix to check for any sign of re-occurrence. While Phoenix was at risk for a host of developmental delays or other issues caused by the stroke, his parents say 12 months later, he's doing great.

"He's ahead, if anything," Robert Saulter said. "He walked early, he talked early, he has the biggest personality."

The outcome was so unexpected that Drofa published a case study of Phoenix's case in the medical journal Pediatric Neurosurgery last September.

On New Year's Day, Pheonix celebrated his first birthday as a seemingly healthy and happy baby. Robert Saulter now has a tattoo of a phoenix feather on his arm in the same area where he cradled his son just before he was taken to surgery.

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