<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Health Connection]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth https://www.nbcdfw.comen-usSun, 17 Dec 2017 23:35:08 -0600Sun, 17 Dec 2017 23:35:08 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NBC 5's Pat Doney's Son Says 1st Words Using Eye-Gaze Device]]> Sun, 17 Dec 2017 10:06:29 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/pat+hudson+doney.JPG

Technology is giving a voice to people living with the most severe forms of cerebral palsy.

Eye-gaze tablets are designed to track the gaze of the eyes on a screen. By looking at control keys or cells displayed on the screen, a user can generate speech either by typing a message or selecting pre-programmed phrases.

The technology helped NBC 5's Pat Doney and his wife, Sheleena Doney, hear their 2-year-old son "speak" to them for the first time in his life.

This week, Pat posted a video on social media of Hudson telling Sheleena, 'I love you,' on her birthday.

"It's something you always want to hear, your son say, 'Mom' and 'Love you,' and I didn't know if I was ever going to hear him say that. So it was really special," Sheleena said.

Hudson has the most severe form of cerebral palsy, which is a group of disorders that impairs a person's ability to move.

In severe cases, it traps a child inside his or her own body and can make it impossible for that child to speak.

"However, it doesn't mean that child cannot communicate. It just means they have to find a different way to use their voice," said Dr. Jan Brunstrom-Hernandez, of 1 CP Place, a pediatric neurology and pediatric physical therapy center in Plano.

Brunstrom-Hernandez, herself, lives with cerebral palsy. She says eye-gaze technology has changed the lives of some of her patients by giving them independence.

"It gives you a chance to have a life like everybody else," she said. "This has changed his quality of life instantaneously. It's changed his chances for education, instantaneously."

"I've always told Pat that one day I want [Hudson] to go to regular school and go to prom and do all those things that normal kids do, so that's our goal," Sheleena said.

It's a goal that starts with just a few simple words.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA['Fetus,' 'Transgender' Among 7 Banned Words at CDC: Report]]> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 22:28:07 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CDC+GettyImages-456691996.jpg

The Trump administration reportedly banned staff of the nation's top health protection agency from using seven words or phrases in budget-related documents. But federal health officials on Saturday pushed back on the report as members of the science community publicly denounced the idea of such a directive, NBC News reported.

Policy analysts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told during a meeting Thursday that they couldn't use the words "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based," The Washington Post reported Friday.

The meeting was led by Alison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency's Office of Financial Services, The Post reported. She gave no reason for the ban, according to an anonymous analyst who spoke with the newspaper.

In a statement provided to NBC News, a spokesman with the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, said the assertion that there are "'banned words' had mischaracterized actual discussions."

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Pop-Up Clinic in McKinney Provides Health Care for Uninsured]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:29:19 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/mckinney+clinic.JPG

A new pop-up clinic in McKinney is helping meet needs for thousands in the city who are under-insured and uninsured.

Hope Clinic opened its doors in July. The clinic offers free health care for people who qualify.

Since then, founder Caitlin Twyman says doctors have treated 75 patients.

"There's this huge gap of people that just don't have access to something as simple as medical care," Twyman said.

The clinic is only open on Mondays.

Each week, a team of volunteers transforms donated office space into exam rooms.

"Maybe we can't meet all 25,000 uninsured in our city, but for the people who we've already started and we've already seen, it matters to them and to us that's enough," Twyman said.

Twyman says the clinic has been so busy they need more volunteers, particularly medical professionals.

MORE: Click here for more information on hours and how to qualify.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Hears Clearly For the First Time]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:41:39 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_cochlearimplants1214_1920x1080.jpg

A children's hospital in Texas is helping a little girl hear for the very first time in her life. The 5-year-old girl's new cochlear implants allow her to hear clearly after failing every hearing test she has had since she was born.

Photo Credit: KPRC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Research May Find New Hope for Those Fighting Celiac Disease]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 21:16:34 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Doctor-Generic-Getty-110317.jpg

People with celiac disease have a hard time with gluten, and there's a long list of foods they need to avoid. But researchers say they've identified what triggers the disease, meaning some day they may know how to prevent it altogether.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas County Reports First Flu Death of the Season]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:03:40 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/flu+generic+germs+generic.jpg

Dallas County health officials have confirmed the county's first flu-related death of the season Friday.

The victim was a 98-year-old Dallas resident, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Due to medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, no other identifying information was released.

No other flu-related deaths have been reported so far this season in North Texas.

DCHHS Medical Director Dr. Christopher Perkins said in a press release that there have been 96 hospitalizations for flu-related illnesses this week.

Photo Credit: CDC]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Doctor Knows Pain, Perseverance of CP]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:53:57 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dr+Jan.jpg

Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy face difficult challenges.

Michelle Gabbard sees the struggle in her four-year-old son, Kason.

"We always heard that Kason would never walk, Kason would never talk," Gabbard said. "When you have a kid that has CP, you have a kid that has muscle issues, vision issues, it could potentially be hearing issues."

But Kason is a fighter. And his family feels they have one of the best doctors in the country in their corner.

"When we met Dr. Jan she said, no, Kason does walk, and Kason already talks," Gabbard said.

Dr. Jan Brunstrom-Hernandez, a pediatric neurologist based in Plano, knows the pain first hand.

"I'm the only pediatric neurologist with cerebral palsy, as far as I know," she said.

Born three months premature, her parents weren't even sure if she'd live.

"They were told I had a zero chance of survival, and then when I did survive they said I would never walk, I'd never talk, I'd never do anything," she said.

Sound familiar?

It's a diagnosis not lost on Kason's mom.

"She inspires me, because Kason has some physical challenges and so does Dr. Jan, but she doesn't let that stop her," Gabbard added. "That helps me daily to push Kason to be a doctor himself one day."

While Dr. Jan is giving other families hope, through the years, her patients have helped her too.

"I didn't grow up thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to take care of kids just like me.' Because I wasn't actually comfortable in my own skin," she explained. "When you bottle all that stuff up inside and you feel like nobody really accepts you with your disability, and then all of a sudden I'd see all these kids and they would love on me for who I was and they would wrap their arms around me and say, 'We love you, Dr. Jan,' they gave me my life back. And now, there's nothing I wouldn't do for them."

A tough road, but worth every step.

"We only go around once in this world. There are no do-overs and life is too short not to live your best, " Dr. Jan said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[ACA Healthcare Marketplace Enrollment Closes Friday]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:23:33 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Healthcare.gov-website.jpg

Friday is the last day to enroll for subsidized private coverage in 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website.

For millions of consumers eligible to enroll time runs out on Dec. 15. Some glitches were reported Monday and Thursday and Friday are expected to be the heaviest days  and may slow traffic on the website.

A slow website may in turn lead to long hold times at the federal call center.

For most people, this is the last opportunity to secure coverage for 2018, or switch from an existing plan. Those who fail to sign up on time could face a penalty and have to wait until next year to obtain coverage.

There is one exception -- people living in hurricane-affected areas can get an extension to sign up by Dec. 31 by contacting the HealthCare.gov call center. That could make a difference in states such Florida, Texas and Georgia.

If you have questions, call 1-800-318-2596 to speak with trained representative 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Parkland Memorial Hospital Offering Enrollment Assistance

For individuals needing further assistance, Parkland Health & Hospital System will extend hours of availability of certified application counselors during the final week of Marketplace enrollment. Counselors can answer questions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide help enrolling in the Marketplace.

The Business Office is located on the first floor of the old Parkland OPC, 5201 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas. Extended hours are 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 11 through Friday, Dec. 15.

In collaboration with the Community Council of Greater Dallas, certified health insurance navigators are available during the enrollment period at the following Parkland Community Oriented Primary Care health centers to provide enrollment assistance:

  • Irving Health Center, 1800 N. Britain Road, Irving - Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Garland Health Center, 802 Hopkins, Garland - Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Hatcher Station Health Center, 4600 Scyene Road, Dallas - Tuesday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Southeast Dallas Health Center, 9202 Elam Road, Dallas - Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Most people must have qualifying health coverage or pay a fee for the months they don't have insurance. Health coverage exemptions are available based on a number of circumstances, including certain hardships, some life events, health coverage or financial status and membership in some groups. Additional information on exemptions is available at healthcare.gov.

In addition, a special enrollment period (SEP) outside of the yearly open enrollment exists for those with certain life events including losing health coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby or adopting a child. If an individual qualifies for an SEP, they usually have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in a plan. If they miss that window, they have to wait until the next open enrollment period to apply.

Those who may need assistance can contact Parkland's Business Office at 214-590-4900. For more information about Parkland's services, visit parklandhospital.com.

Photo Credit: Healthcare.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Cancer Patient and His Family Spread Holiday Cheer]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 23:23:45 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/juan+rivera+baylor+med.JPG

If you were on the cancer floor at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, chances are you talked to Juan Rivera or his sister, Diana Rivera.

"Whatever I'm going through, we can still have the energy of the holiday," said Juan Rivera, who underwent a bone marrow transplant last month.

His room is filled with Christmas decorations and holiday lights. The Riveras call it their home away from home.

"They come in to do vitals," his sister said, talking about the nursing staff. "They're like, 'Oh, it's so festive!'"

Diana Rivera has taken the Christmas spirit out onto the floor. She learned to crochet while staying with her brother at the hospital and made hats for other cancer patients.

"It's just, like, so addicting," Diana Rivera said. "I mean, it makes me feel really good to do that for the patients."

"So they made a beanie for us. Pretty awesome, Cowboys colors," said cancer patient Jim Klinkhamer. "He's got an awesome attitude. That's what it takes when you're dealing with what we're dealing with."

Not all medicine comes in a bottle.

"We've had hard times," Diana Rivera said. "It's tough, but we never gave up."

Rivera expects to go to temporary apartment housing on Friday to continue his care on an outpatient basis. He hopes their Christmas cheer helped other patients get through spending this time of year in the hospital.

"I want to be healthy," Juan Rivera said. "Put that underneath the Christmas tree."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Born With Zika Continue to Struggle at 2 Years Old]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:48:08 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Health_Headlines_121417.jpg

Babies born with Zika-related microcephaly in Brazil continue to struggle as they reach their second birthdays. The children are not able to sit up by themselves, and they have difficulty eating and sleeping. Zika remains a concern Texas. Of 45 reported cases in the state this year, two each were in Collin and Dallas counties, and one was in Tarrant County.

<![CDATA[Baby Cured of Rare Disease Goes Home for Christmas]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:55:36 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Childrens_Medical_cook.jpg

A baby girl who has spent her entire short life in hospitals is going home in time for Christmas.

Ella Vallecalle was born in October with a rare disease called hyperinsulinism, which causes her pancreas to secrete too much insulin.

Doctors in her hometown of Tucson, Ariz., referred the family to the Hyperinsulinism Center at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, one of two such centers in the U.S.

"So they called us and said we have a baby. We can't do anything more. We need your help," said Dr. Paul Thornton, the center's medical director.

Cook Children's congenital hyperinsulinism program is recognized for its advanced treatments.

The FDA has given an investigational license for the center to use a new drug called 18F DOPA.

The drug, when used in combination with a PET-CT scan, helps diagnose focal lesions in children with congenital hyperinsulinism.

"We can see the part of the pancreas that makes too much insulin, and if there's one part that makes too much insulin, and our surgeon is able to remove it, then we can cure the patients," Thornton said. "This is one of the rare diseases that we can say we genuinely cure a patient."

Doctors removed the small lesion responsible for the excess secretion on Ella's pancreas and cured her of the disease.

"This is a big change form the past. In the past, all the babies would end up having 98 percent of their pancreas removed. They'd be in the hospital for 30 or 60 days and would get diabetes by the age of 15," Thornton said.

"For me, it was like her being able to be born again. For me, it was like having my baby all over again," said Ella's mother, Carol Vallecalle. "This is the best Christmas present, to be able to be home for Christmas."

"I know she's going to have a full life. She's going to be able to do whatever she needs to do. She'll be able to walk in the sand on the beach and fall in love and never have problems again of hyperinsulinism," Vallecalle said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Critical Need for Language Interpreters in DFW Hospitals]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:01:24 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/parland-hospital-language-interpreters.jpg

The health care industry is constantly evolving and bending to meet the needs of patient demographics. In Dallas County, as the international community grows, the need for more medical interpreters increases as well.

Parkland Hospital has 85 medical interpreters on staff — the largest number in the country — and there's a critical need for more.

“This is a 24/7 position,” said Meredith Stegall, Director of Language Services at Parkland Hospital. “If a face-to-face interpreter is needed we have to get them there in less than 15 minutes."

According to Stegall, one interpreter could see as many as 35 patients in one shift, and there's a critical need for more help.

“Just imagine if you could not speak the same language of your physician," Stegall said. "When you’re looking at situations particularly in an emergency room setting, stresses are already high, you already feel terrible, but then you have someone who looks and sounds like you on the screen (or in person) that’s going to guide your caregivers through the process that will facilitate that care."

Nearly half of the patients at Parkland Hospital have limited English proficiency, which is why interpreters are needed for approximately 1,000 patient visits per day. In fiscal 2016, there were 975,000-plus interpretations provided to limited English proficiency (LEP) patients system-wide.

With more than 150 languages spoken by patients throughout the hospital, some interpreters are sign via video conference or audio is heard through a hand-held device. After English, Spanish is the language most commonly spoken among patients. Spanish is followed by Vietnamese, Amharic, Arabic, Nepali, and French.

Those interpreters help with infant deliveries, surgical procedures, physical therapy treatment, medication directives, and to offer comfort for families. Interpreters also help lessen the opportunity of a misdiagnosis.

“Without that interpreter, for 41 percent of our patients we would not be able to provide care, much less quality care," explained Stegall. "If you have a patient that’s coming in with diabetes and they have a wound on their foot, how effective can you be in treating that patient, and teaching them to take care of themselves so they’re not readmitted without an interpreter?”

Interpreters are encouraged to grow their skill sets — some are in nursing school. In the next six months Parkland Hospital plans to add 80 more Spanish speaking interpreters which will lower outsourcing costs.

For details patient services at Parkland Hospital, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Stress Could Trigger Irregular Heartbeat for Some]]> Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:58:16 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Health_Headlines_2017_12_13_16_24_24.jpg

The holidays are stressful enough. But doctors say adding that extra energy drink to get you through the day can be detrimental to your heart, when coupled with holiday stress.

Holiday heart syndrome is an irregular heartbeat pattern that presents in people who are otherwise healthy during the holidays.

<![CDATA[How to Step Up Your Coffee Game With a Chemex]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:55:01 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Coffee+D5+CHEMEX.00_00_06_13.Still002.jpg

Making delicious home-brewed coffee will be easier than you think with these quick and easy steps to make coffee using a chemex. 

<![CDATA[Step Up Your Coffee Game With an Aeropress]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:39:57 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Coffee+D4.00_00_02_04.Still002.jpg

Making delicious home-brewed coffee will be easier than you think with these quick and easy steps to making a cup of coffee with an Aeropress.

<![CDATA[New Therapies Help Combat Urinary Incontinence]]> Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:48:25 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Women_Incontinence_2017_12_13_16_24_24.jpg

Urinary incontinence, or the loss of bladder control, is a common and embarrassing problem for many women.

It's estimated that between 25 and 50 percent of women deal with the problem. Common factors are childbirth and aging.

For 31-year-old Susan Muriel Avett, the birth of her daughter brought on the issue, which she wasn't prepared for.

"It was hard to talk about, and I didn't know if it was normal or not," Avett said.

Dr. Jeffrey Caruth, of Plano Aesthetics, says new therapies give new options for women.

The latest, which the FDA approved this year, is a non-invasive device called Votiva, designed for women's intimate health.

It uses radio frequency energy to tighten the tissue responsible for the embarrassing leaks.

"We really could only offer women medicine, hormones, creams, surgeries, those kinds of things. Now, there's this non-surgical treatment available that really can help a lot of women that won't subject them to more aggressive treatments or medications with side effects or hormones," Caruth said.

After one treatment, Avett says she's feeling much better.

"I don't have any problem controlling my bladder. I don't have to wear pads. I don't feel like I have to take three showers everyday," she said.

Votiva devices work like other radio frequency treatments commonly used to tighten the skin on other areas of the body, like the stomach, chest and arms.

Results can be immediate with little to no downtime. However, unlike surgery or medication to treat incontinence, radio frequency treatments are not covered by health insurance.

One treatment costs around $800.

<![CDATA[Families May Lose CHIP Children's Health Insurance]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:06:12 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chip-anniversary.jpg

Officials in several states started warning families this week that funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is about to run out.

The joint state-federal health plan designed to help uninsured children from low-income households was not renewed by Congress, and, as NBC News reports, for many families that may mean an end to their children’s health coverage.

“I would say most families, their children will go without insurance,” said Linda Nablo, chief deputy director at Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services.

A resolution passed by Congress last week keeps the federal government open for business until Dec. 22 and included a patch for CHIP, but that was just to move money from states that have not yet run out of cash to states whose CHIP programs were about to go broke.

Photo Credit: Keith Srakocic/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Still Waiting for Additional Funds to Extend CHIP]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:00:45 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/505030334-Digital-Doctor.jpg

A federal health insurance program covering nearly 400,000 Texas children is still in limbo as the state remains hopeful it can get additional funding to extend coverage for an additional month.

Congress failed to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, at the end of September. Texas has existing funds keeping CHIP running, but it’s slated to run out by the end of January.

“There’s no time left for an, ‘It’ll work out approach,’” Adriana Kohler with Texans Care for Children said. “We need to pass this health care funding now.”

CHIP’s benefits include doctor visits, dental care, hearing tests, eye care and much more. The program helps families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but aren’t able to afford private health coverage.

Liz Hong has two children covered under CHIP.

“I was fortunate to find a job that has a lot of flexibility, but it doesn’t have as much income as I would if I was teaching, so CHIP has helped us to be able to still have health insurance,” Hong said.

Hong’s 6-year-old son deals with anxiety disorder and CHIP helps with evaluations, psychiatrist visits and prescriptions, Hong said. Her 4-year-old daughter, also covered by CHIP, is able obtain her nebulizer and inhalers because of the program. Hong is monitoring what happens with CHIP funding closely.

“It’s nerve-wracking,” Hong said of how Congress hasn’t acted on CHIP. “We don’t know what we will do and I’ve heard if we try to get on the Marketplace, it’ll bump us back out, so then that adds another layer of something we’ll have to try and navigate.”

Dr. Jaeson Fournier, CEO of CommUnityCare Health Centers in Austin, said he hopes lawmakers will appropriate money for both CHIP and the Community Health Center Fund. When Congress extended funding for CHIP in 2015, it did the same for the Community Health Center Fund through Sept. 30.

“It’s linked directly to our ability to serve patients,” Fournier said.

Fournier said each year, CommUnityCare serves around 2,500 patients covered through CHIP and he worries about what the inaction on Capitol Hill will mean for them.

“Their ability to go ahead and access hospital services and other services and have insurance to cover their needs will be compromised,” he said.

Carrie Wiliams, a spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said if additional funds don’t come through, the agency will need to notify clients later this month.

Kohler worries about parents who are scheduling appointments in advance, saying, “We know that Congress will eventually act, but the question is whether there will be disruption for kids and families who will be cut off from health care.”

Hong said, “It’s absolutely important that they get it together and get this passed because so many people are relying on it and the people it’s going to hurt the most are the children.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Zebrafish Used in Fight Against Childhood Cancer]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:16:24 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Zebrafish.jpg

Zebrafish are rapidly becoming the ‘go-to’ animals in cancer research. Small and translucent, they breed rapidly, and take up little room. But most important; they grow transplanted cancer tumors in their little bodies very quickly. This gives doctors a clear view of why some cancers metastasize and recur. Eventually, this research will yield treatment for these recurrent cancers, which can be deadly.

Kennedie Bailey was a healthy, happy fifth grader until this past summer, when doctors diagnosed her with rhabdomyosarcoma; a rare form of childhood cancer.

"e did a biopsy and then a few weeks later, we found out the results and that’s how we learned that I had rhabdomyosarcoma," said Bailey.

"I mean anytime you hear something like that, it’s gonna be a shocker to you," said Kennedie’s stepfather, Chris Bendele. "Especially when you see them healthy, and then you find out, oh you know."

Although rare, Kennedie’s cancer is treatable. The larger problem is when the cancer recurs. So, researchers are utilizing zebrafish, in which they transplant cancerous tumors and keep a careful eye on them.

“You can look at it under the microscope and follow it for days, months and years and we can follow a cancer. How cancers form, and because they’re transparent, we can look in a tumor and say these are stem cells, this is a blood vessel. What are they doing?” Myron Ignatius, PhD, Researcher, UT Health San Antonio explained.

Hopefully not recurring, because the survival rate drops dramatically. There is no treatment for the 20 percent of patients who relapse.

“My expectation for the research study would be that it leaves us to be able to identify which patients are going to have a recurrence sooner, and then also ultimately being able to end up to treat those recurrences,” Aaron Sugalski, DO, Hematologist/Oncologist, UT Health San Antonio stated.

“Whatever they can find out not only for her but for other kids, you know … it’s extremely important,” said Bendele.

Professor Ignatius and his team keep between 10,000-15,000 fish in the laboratory, working around the clock to help find a cure for children like Kennedie.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Photo Credit: Ivanhoe]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Flu Cases Climb 3 Percent: DCHHS]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:17:29 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/flu+vaccine+generic.png

Dallas County Health and Human Services report a three percent increase in positive flu tests between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, the most recent week with reporting data.

Positive flu tests have been climbing since the week of Oct. 28 when they were at 3.9 percent, except for a dip Nov. 25 when the dropped from 10.1 percent to 9.8 percent.

Positive tests for the week of Dec. 2 were 12.8 percent. Of the 267 positive tests returned, 223 were positive influenza A tests while 44 were B tests.

DCHHS said in their most recent report that the most frequently identified influenza type in Dallas County has been influenza type A (87 percent) with the predominant subtype H3N2.

Activity of respiratory syncytial virus, which causes infections in the lungs and breathing passages, increased with 29.6 percent of tests from area surveillance sites testing positive. RSV is very common in children and adults and symptoms often mimic the common cold.

To date in 2017 there have been no adult or pediatric deaths associated with the influenza virus. Over the last three years, an average of one child and 15 adults die from flu-associated causes.

DCHHS offers the flu vaccine free to all uninsured and low income Dallas County residents. The flu vaccine DCHHS provides is an all-in-one vaccine that protects against multiple flu strains including the H1N1 virus.

The adult vaccine is given in the adult immunization clinic on the first floor of the DCHHS building located at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas. The children’s vaccine is available at all DCHHS immunization clinics. Clinic hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments aren’t necessary. For more information, call 214-819-2162.

<![CDATA[North Texas District Closes Due to Flu Outbreak]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 09:46:30 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sunnyvale-isd-flu.jpg

Classes are canceled in Sunnyvale ISD Tuesday and Wednesday as the district tries to stop the spread of the flu, which they say kept more than one in 10 elementary school students home Monday.

Over the next two days, the district says janitors will work to disinfect all three of its campuses, even though the majority of the illnesses have been at Sunnyvale Elementary School. 

The district, which sits east of Dallas near Mesquite, and is home to about 1,800 students, says this is the first flu related closure in the district in the last decade. 

“We felt like just given the proximity of our three campuses and the fact that the kids share the same school buses and we have shared personnel and things like that, that it was just going to be in our best interest to shut down for a couple of days," said Superintendent Doug Williams. 

District officials started keeping an eye on illnesses last week when attendance was much lower than usual. They were hoping the weekend would be enough time out of school to stop the spread of the flu, but the number of absences climbed even more on Monday, reaching 85 by 10:30 a.m. at Sunnyvale Elementary. 

“We need to make sure the schools are disinfected, and then hopefully everyone can come back or as many as possible can come back and we can resume business as usual," said Williams. 

Williams said he would've liked to extend the closure by another day to give sick students even more time to recover. But with finals next week, he felt students couldn't miss another day in the classroom. 

While the closure's a first for most families in the district, it's been well received. 

"I’m glad they’re doing it. I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Cassie Patterson. 

Patterson has daughters at both Sunnyvale High School and Sunnyvale Middle school. She says the whole family's had flu shots and feel's they've done all they can to avoid illness. That comes with a few reminders.

“Wash your hands. Don’t share your food. Don’t share your drinks," said Patterson. 

Sunnyvale ISD says their calendar does include a couple of flex days. So assuming there aren't any snow or ice days this year, students and teachers won't have to make up the missed days.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Anonymous Live Kidney Donor Saves Woman's Life]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:39:23 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kidney+donation1.jpg

Right now, more than 100,000 people are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

After one Lewisville mother suffered a personal tragedy, she was inspired to do something to help at least one person on that list.

Susana Margraf says her father didn’t qualify for a kidney donation after his kidneys failed in 2010 and three years later, he decided to stop them. 

Four months later, he was dead.

Margraf wasn’t able to donate a kidney to her dad, but early this year, she went online and started the process to donate one to a stranger.

"I thought about my dad.  I thought about how he passed away and I thought this is my chance to make a difference, this is my chance to make the world a better place and to make someone's world a better world," said Margraf.

Margraf made the decision in January, and in March underwent surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Valene Escobedo, 33, of Amarillo, a former student at West Texas A&M University, majoring in psychology, received that kidney and now dreams of returning to college to complete the degree she walked away from because her own dialysis treatments had become so debilitating.

"They told me that I had a living donor.  I was very happy because it was like a miracle and I'm just grateful for getting a second chance at life," said Escobedo.

On Monday, Escobedo and Margraf met in person.

"Thank you so much," said Escobedo as she embraced Margraf.

According to doctors at UT Southwestern, out of the 19,000 kidney transplants performed in the United States each year, about 5,000 are from live donors.

Even more rare are the kidneys that come from anonymous live donors.

"A family member, work colleague, a random stranger has the ability to save someone's life. You don't get that in medicine. We see a lot of people who don't do well. She saved a life. It's pretty amazing," said Dr. Justin Parekh, abdominal organ transplant surgeon, Assistant Professor of Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

He says the average time on the kidney transplant wait list is five years.

Escobedo waited seven months.

The only request Margraf has of Escobedo is that she pays it forward.

"I will!" said Escobedo.

Read here for more information on becoming a living kidney donor.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[How to Help Kids Who Are Being Bullied]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:25:46 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Bullying_Interview.jpg

After a video of a boy in Tennessee talking about how he is bullied at school went viral over the weekend, NBC 5 talked to Dr. Celia Heppner from Children's Health about ways you can help children who may be facing the same kind of situation.

<![CDATA[Making Window Blinds Safer for Children]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:59:40 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Window_Blind_Danger.jpg

The Window Covering Manufacturers Association is currently working towards a safety standard for manufacturers to go cordless, or even have inaccessible cords. The standard should be finalized by the end of December, and all companies are expected to be in compliance by the end of 2018.

<![CDATA[Depression, Anxiety Crisis Deepening in America]]> Sun, 10 Dec 2017 16:49:18 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-548183493.jpg

Alex Crotty was just 11 when things started feeling wrong.

“I didn't feel unloved. I just felt numb to the world. Like, I was surrounded by great things, but just I couldn't be happy. And I didn't know why that was,” Alex, told NBC News.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in five American children, ages 3 through 17 — some 15 million — have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in a given year.

Recent research indicates serious depression is worsening in teens, especially girls and the suicide rate among girls reached a 40-year high in 2015, according to a CDC report released in August.

Teens are known for their moodiness, and adolescence — a particularly turbulent time of life — is actually one of the most vulnerable periods to develop anxiety and depression. Some 50 percent of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Acupuncture Used to Battle Side Effects of Breast Cancer Medication]]> Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:37:24 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Health_Headlines_2017_12_08_16_24_56.jpg

A common breast cancer medication can have negative side effects like joint pain, but new research suggests acupuncture may ease the pain.

<![CDATA[Sensory Gyms Help Children With Special Needs Beneficially Develop]]> Fri, 08 Dec 2017 16:52:16 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_yoga1207_1920x1080.jpg

A sensory gym is benefiting the development of children with special needs.

"We Rock the Spectrum" started as sensory gym for children with autism. Now, it has expanded to all kids and all abilities.

The location in Cypress, Texas finds its "story time yoga" class is especially beneficial to kids.

"It's not really yoga that most of adults have seen before, it's kid yoga!" said instructor Leslie Bates. "We move around the room like animals, or like cars, or whatever our book is about."

They build focus, muscle memory and motor skills by imitating movements of animals or vehicles in their story book.

These kinds of exercise are critical to kids with physical disabilities, just like the socializing and movement is beneficial for kids with behavioral needs.

"A lot of it is social development. So we're talking about our bodies and stretching our bodies," said Bates. "Your muscle movements and your memory in your muscles is really important at this age. So a lot of times we're just asking the parents to work on exercises too and just play with it. Making it fun but playing something with exercises to make their muscle movement different so their muscle movement can be ready for that."

We Rock the Spectrum has more than 60 locations across the United States with more to come. The company website says a location is coming soon to Frisco but the company could not confirm the opening date for the location near the Frisco Square.

MORE: We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym

<![CDATA[Images Reveal Woman's Eye Damage From Staring at Eclipse]]> Fri, 08 Dec 2017 12:32:49 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/solareyedamage_1200x675.jpg

A New York woman suffered from blurred vision and permanent dark spots after staring directly into the solar eclipse in August, according to a case study released Thursday. 

The woman, identified by CNN as 26-year-old Nia Payne of Staten Island, walked into the New York Ear and Eye Infirmary of Mount Sinai with symptoms of vision that was blurred, distorted and could not perceive color well. She also reported seeing a central black spot in her left eye, according to the study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

She told doctors that she first glanced at the sun during the eclipse for 6 seconds then she borrowed a pair of what she thought were eclipse glasses and looked up at the sun for another 15 to 20 seconds. She said she viewed the eclipse with both eyes. 

Doctors monitored the woman and advised her to use certified eclipse-viewing glasses when looking at the sun. But six weeks after the eclipse, she was still seeing dark spots in her left eye. 

Upon further examination, doctors noticed that the dark spot shape in her eye resembled a partial solar eclipse. They concluded that during a partial solar eclipse, when part of the sun’s core remains visible, viewing the solar rim without eclipse-viewing glasses with special-purpose solar filters can lead to severe solar retinopathy.

Doctors also captured images of the damage.

"It's embarrassing. People will assume I was just one of those people who stared blankly at the sun or didn't check the person with the glasses," Payne told CNN. "It's something I have to live with for the rest of my life. But it could be a whole lot worse, and I try to count my blessings."

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a person whose eyes are damaged by a solar eclipse will begin feeling symptoms within a few hours of the exposure. The young woman sought medical assistance three days after the solar eclipse occurrence. Doctors diagnosed her with a rare case of acute solar retinopathy which occurs when the eye retina is severely damaged by gazing straight into the sun.

Acute solar retinopathy is caused by photochemical toxicity when light can damage the retina and underlying structures. While the eye has several ways to protect itself from such damage, certain exposures to light can still result in temporal or permanent damage, according to the NCBI.

In 1999, there were 14 recorded incidents of eyes damaged after a solar eclipse in the United Kingdom. 

According to NASA, there is a point during the eclipse where the light is the most damaging and it is best to keep eyes protected at all time during an eclipse. 

The New York case study concluded that young adults may be especially vulnerable and need to be better informed of the risks of directly viewing the sun without protective eyewear.

Photo Credit: JAMA]]>
<![CDATA[Lawmakers Work to Fund Children's Health Program]]> Fri, 08 Dec 2017 06:52:55 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1512628091.jpg

A two-week spending bill is making money available to several states that are running out of funds for the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.

According to ForABetterTexas.org, the current CHIP caseload by county lists 50,274 cases in Dallas County; 32,891 in Tarrant County; 7,659 in Collin County and 8,241 in Denton County. In Dallas, roughly 40,000 of those children in Dallas County receive care at Children's Health.

CHIP lost funding at the end of September, and since then each state has been running the program through reserve funding. Each state has a different amount of money set aside. Other states, like Colorado, have already run out.

Texas will run out of reserve funding at the end of January.

Matt Moore, who is the VP of Government Relations for Children's Health, has been flying back and forth from Dallas to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the program.

"The program does have bi-partisan support, but the House and the Senate can't decide how it will get funded," said Moore. "We're in a unique situation, but it is frustrating for those parents. If you're a parent who has a child with a specialized illness, or has surgery scheduled after January 31st, you're concerned right now. Yes, you're worried."

Parkland Hospital provides care for large percentage of pregnant women who receive CHIP. In 2017 the hospital received 13,550 CHIP and CHIP Prenatal patients, which accounted for 97,113 visits. 13,007 were pregnant women.

"We are a big funding source, especially for pregnant women," said Bart Ensley, Director of Patient Access at Parkland Health and Hospital System. "Patients have been asking, 'what do we do?' and we can only tell them what we know. They can apply for different grants or other forms of assistance. The patients are in a vulnerable state."

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission filed an application for a $90 million grant to keep the state of Texas afloat until the end of February.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," said Katherine Yoder, VP of Government Relations at Parkland Health and Hospital System. "There is no telling if THSC will get approved and even then, it's still a temporary fix."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Social Media Blamed For Sleep Deprivation In Teens]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:01:22 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Teens_and_Sleep_2017_12_07_16_23_51.jpg

More and more adolescents are suffering from sleep deprivation because they're up late on their phone, according to doctors, and that can lead to major health problems.

Some tell-tale signs of sleep deprivation, like yawning, in your teenagers could be signs that it's time to step in.

"Parents should not just trust that their teens are putting these devices away and never looking at them in the middle of the night," said Dr. Dave Atkinson, medical director of the teen recovery program at Children's Health and an assistant professor at UT Southwestern.

Based on his patient trends, one of the main reason children aren't sleeping is because of smart phones and social media.

"It becomes very hard for them to let go of when they're used to getting responses  from their friends up until 1 or 2 am.  To miss out on that social behavior is hard, and even when they're tired, they'll still be trying to check their messages," said Atkinson.

A study out of Pittsburgh found that it only takes two consecutive nights of four hours of sleep for a changes to happen in the brain of a teenager.

The changes affect the reward center of the brain and can lead to higher risks of depression and addiction.

"One might think because there's decreased activity in the reward system, they're going to be less likely to do rewarding activity, but it can be the opposite," he said.

He recommends parents set firm rules for their teen, like social media after 9 or 10 p.m.

If that doesn't work, he recommends turning off Wi-Fi and data to their phone.

<![CDATA[Heavy Use or Addiction to Alcohol Has Increased Among Women]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:07:41 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mom_Alcohol_Abuse_2017_12_07_16_23_51.jpg

Stressed out moms sometimes cope by pouring a glass of wine or two, and we often see jokes about it on social media. But with the number of women abusing alcohol rising dramatically some are trying to put cork in it.

<![CDATA[Health Headlines: CHIP Expires & 3D Printed Organs]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:54:38 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Health_Headlines_2017_12_07_16_23_51.jpg

Texas has a plan to keep kids covered by health insurance and 3D printers may change the way surgeons operate.

<![CDATA[Seasonal Allergy Relief]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:05:01 -0600 https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Seasonal_Allergies.jpg

If your nose runs, eyes itch and you sneeze and cough during certain times of the year-- you may have seasonal allergies. Often, people self-medicate with antihistamines, but there could be a better way.