1st American moms to have babies born from a transplanted uterus share their journeys

iStock(DALLAS) — The first mothers to have babies born from transplanted uteri are opening up about their road to motherhood.

Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, recently announced the births of a third and fourth baby to women who received transplantation as part of a breakthrough clinical trial.

Peyton Meave, 24, was the third mother to deliver her baby, a girl named Emersyn Rae, on June 21, 2019.

Kayla Edwards, 28, was the fourth. Edwards also welcomed a girl, Indy Pearl, on Sept. 10, 2019.

Both women, born without uteri, were part of the trial conducted through Baylor Scott & White Research Institute.

“I’m thankful [there were] doctors passionate enough to research something I thought I was alone in,” Edwards of Plano, Texas, told “Good Morning America.” “I don’t think of myself as history-making, I think of myself as blessed and honored to have [my daughter]. I am honored that she is part of something that can inspire people — people can look at her and have hope.”

Edwards said she learned at the age of 16 that she did not have a uterus or cervix, but was able to produce eggs.

She and her husband Lance married in 2014. Edwards said she had read about uterus transplantation first occurring in Sweden. When she read about Baylor’s clinical trial, she contacted their medical center and was chosen to be a participant. Edwards successfully underwent the transplant in August 2017.

After multiple in vitro fertilization cycles and three failed embryo transfers, Edwards eventually became pregnant through a natural cycle without IVF medication.

“Uterus transplantation is an innovative infertility treatment option for women with absolute uterine factor infertility, meaning their uterus is non-functioning or nonexistent,” according to a press release from the institute.

“My husband came home and I ran out to tell him and we both cried,” Edwards recalled. “I had a beautiful pregnancy and soaked it all up.”

Like Edwards, Meave learned at a young age that having children would be nearly impossible.

“I was born without a uterus and I found out when I was 15 through a series of tests — physical exam, ultrasound and an MRI,” Meave of Dallas, told Good Morning America. “The only way I could successfully carry a child was through a uterus transplant.”

Meave had the transplant surgery in May 2018. She got pregnant with her very first embryo transfer on Dec. 7, 2018.

Meave credits her doctors for their landmark research.

“I feel like such a small part but it’s amazing to have been given this opportunity, the fact that my daughter is here, I got to successfully bring her into the world and it feels amazing,” Meave said. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

Researchers at Baylor University Medical Center have completed 20 uterus transplants as part of this trial — making it the largest program in the world.

Baylor said its goal is to be able to offer the procedure “to any woman with uterine factor infertility.”

Dr. Giuliano Testa, principal investigator of the uterus transplant clinical trial at Baylor University Medical Center, and Dr. Liza Johannesson, gynecologic surgeon and medical director of uterus transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center, participated in a press conference Tuesday at Baylor Scott & White Health where they sat beside Edwards, Meave and their children.

Testa said the team hopes to get “better and better” with this new innovation.

“We went from a rough start to a 90% success, so we are really very confident now that we can offer this to possibly as many 16-year-old’s as needed,” Testa said. “There were hundreds of women who stepped forward, wanting to participate in the trial and wanting to donate a uterus…they were instrumental to allow us to come today, to be able to be here today.

“We have a tremendous respect for women in general [who] have the courage to undergo something like this,” he added.

Johannesson chimed in, “The first birth is always fantastic, but now the more births we have, the more we show that this is not something that you do in one institution in Europe where it started. This is something that we can actually reproduce. We can do it. We have several babies here now and this is something that we can offer to more women out there.”

“My hope is that 16-year-old girl will know that there is options for her if she would choose to become a mother,” she added.

The families of the first and second births via uterus transplant (in 2017 and 2018) chose to stay anonymous, but Edwards and Meave wanted to share their experiences in hopes to inspire others who struggle with infertility, they said.

“I hope other women can look at [my child] and feel hope because unfortunately infertility, it can make you feel extremely hopeless,” Meave said.

Edwards agreed, she wants her birth story to be a symbol of hope for people hoping to become parents.

“She’s an inspiration,” Edwards said of her daughter. “I fought for her and I hope she continues to fight for anything in this world that she wants.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Health experts explain complications of new red meat study

iStock(NEW YORK) — It’s not the first time researcher Bradley Johnston has had the nutrition community up in arms over his work.

Johnston, an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University in Canada, is the lead author of a controversial new set of papers challenging the near-universal recommendation to cut back on red meat for health reasons.

The papers, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also contained a controversial accompanying recommendation from scientists, suggesting that adults continue eating red and processed meats. The evidence on red and processed meats’ link to disease and death is weak and the risk for individuals is small, Johnston and his co-authors concluded.

That recommendation goes against conventional advice from major health organizations like the World Health Organization, as well as the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, which recommends limiting red meat, including processed meat, to one serving a week.

Three years ago, Johnston published a different review on sugar consumption, once again in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The advice was similar: Johnston said there was weak evidence on recommendations to cut dietary sugar.

There was one glaring problem. The review was funded by International Life Sciences, a scientific group backed by companies with a vested interest in the review’s results, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods and Monsanto.

The outcry against the sugar study was immediate. The point of the study was to show the limitations of research and call for more rigorous inquiry into sugar consumption, Johnston and his coauthors said. Public health and nutrition experts questioned whether that point was made in good faith.

“They’re hijacking the scientific process in a disingenuous way to sow doubt and jeopardize public health,” Dr. Dean Schillinger, professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco told The New York Times at the time.

The new red meat review has no declared ties to industry funding, but the methodology for the two studies is the same. And once again, experts are asking if Johnston and his co-authors are making a point at the expense of undermining public understanding of nutrition.

Nutrition is notoriously difficult to study. Unlike studies on drugs, people don’t want to participate in a decades-long randomized controlled trial, where they eat meat or don’t eat meat. Instead, scientists ask people what they are eating and try to make conclusions about the long-term implications of certain foods based on people’s health outcomes.

The new red meat research takes a strict approach to nutrition, excluding all research that doesn’t fit the highest scientific standards.

It’s a tactic often used by the food industry, as well as the drug and chemical industries, to discredit inconvenient research, explained Marion Nestle, professor emeritus of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, who has written numerous books on food and nutrition politics.

“Attempts to make dietary guidelines science-based, are doomed to failure because the evidence will never reach high standards of scientific proof,” she told ABC News by email.

“I wish it were easier to understand how difficult it is to do nutrition research when you can’t lock people up for decades to feed them controlled diets,” Nestle said. “We all have to do the best we can to look at the totality of evidence and try to make sense of it.”

“The meat studies did not do that,” she added

For his part, Johnston thinks if an individual’s risk is low, they should be able to make their own decisions on what to eat.

“Some people may think that it is ethical to tell people, from a societal perspective, based on low certainty evidence, to stop or reduce their meat consumption,” he told ABC News. “People should look at the very small risk reductions based on low quality evidence and make their own decisions.”

But according to health experts ABC contacted, those arguments may do a disservice to the public, which already suffers whiplash when it comes to nutrition advice.

Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, called the new research “irresponsible” from both an individual and public health point of view.

Dr. Aaron Carroll, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, who penned an editorial about the limits of observational studies that ran alongside the new research, took a more diplomatic view.

Perhaps instead of nutrition guidelines from governmental and research bodies, patients should rely on individualized health and nutrition advice from their physicians, he suggested.

“I try not to ascribe bad motives to other researchers,” he said. “I think the public is confused because people [have] legitimate differences in how they view this research.”

“Each side would likely say the other is confusing things,” he added.

But most people only have so much tolerance for mixed messaging.

“These kinds of wonky methodological discussions confuse the public and lead to what I call nutritional nihilism — the idea that nutrition science is so confusing that we don’t have to pay attention to it,” Nestle said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Men with breast cancer more likely to be undertreated and not survive

iStockBY: DR. KRISTEN KENDRICK

(NEW YORK) — The T-shirts read “Fight like a girl.” But while October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings messages of strength and familiar pink ribbons, a fight rages on for the disease’s lesser-known victims: men.

Though breast cancer strikes men much less often than women, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA] reveals that three to five years after a breast cancer diagnosis, men are less likely to be alive.

Dr. Monica Morrow, a surgical oncologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering who specializes in breast cancers, agrees breast cancer in men accounts for quite a small amount of cases, yet they are typically caught when they’re more advanced, and more often fatal.

In an interview with ABC News, Morrow said that “Although later stage of diagnosis and undertreatment explain a large amount of difference in outcomes, they don’t explain them all, so all of the molecular research in women, we need to do those in men.” Dr. Morrow was not involved in the JAMA study.

The numbers haven’t made a strong case for studying breast cancer in men. Male victims account for less than one percent of all breast cancer cases, leaving a significant void in interest, and in funding, for research. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 245,000 women are diagnosed each year, compared to 2,200 men. About 460 men die each year, compared to 41,000 women.

The disease has gotten attention sporadically, but most recently in a number of cases among 9/11 responders and survivors.

And although the loudest cries for funding in breast cancer’s growing community seem to be those of women, they’re playing a critical part in helping men be heard. A New Jersey woman whose life was touched by male breast cancer happened upon the story of Bret Miller, a Kansas City man diagnosed at 24 years old. Together, they founded the Male Breast Cancer Coalition in 2013.

There’s an active coalition website, covered with half-pink, half-blue ribbons and pictures from their many fundraising events, along with Miller’s recount of his journey through breast cancer. His diagnosis ultimately resulted in a mastectomy and chemotherapy. In the website’s article, he calls it “terrible experience,” admitting he, “never thought it was possible for a man to get a woman’s disease.”

Dr. Morrow recognizes that men are also getting fewer conventional treatments than women. They are less likely to get treatment “in terms of radiation use, chemotherapy use — the things we know save lives in breast cancer,” she added.

The Vanderbilt researchers who performed the JAMA study seem to support this impression, noting one of the biggest contributors to lower survival times in men other than gender was undertreatment, though it wasn’t clear why.

A separate study in the Journal of Radiology suggests screening tests like mammography and ultrasound recommended for women may be also beneficial in detecting male breast cancers, but only in those who are considered ‘high-risk.’ Men who have a close family history of breast cancer, are of Ashkenazi descent, or have a known genetic mutation might benefit from screening, the study proposed.

Genetic testing in men has also been an unpopular subject, given a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer with the infamously cancer-causing BRCA gene is more than four times that of men. Because of this, there are no concrete guidelines on testing, or taking preventative action, in affected men.

Morrow told ABC News that due to lack of supportive research, screening average-risk men, with even a manual breast exam, “doesn’t make any sense.” She adds that the key for catching treatable breast cancer is to have any breast lump, no matter the size, evaluated promptly. This may include a simple physical exam by a trusted healthcare provider, a mammogram, or even needle biopsy.

General public awareness that men can, in fact, get breast cancer could be key in early detection and improving survival rates.

The Male Breast Cancer Coalition is sending a similar message with their tagline, putting it quite simply: ‘Men have breasts too.’

Dr. Kendrick is a family physician with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

16 Indiana students hospitalized after getting shot with insulin by mistake

digicomphoto/iStock(INDIANAPOLIS) — Sixteen students at an Indiana career center were hospitalized after they were accidentally injected with shots of insulin during what was meant to be a tuberculosis skin test, the school district said.

The error happened Monday at the McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology in Indianapolis, according to a statement from the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township.

“Immediate action was taken to care for those students” and they were transported to area hospitals for observation, the statement read.

A spokeswoman with the school district told ABC News on Tuesday that all the students had since been released from the hospital.

The insulin shots were administered during the tuberculosis test with medical personnel from the Community Health Network.

“We have full confidence that the events of today are isolated in nature and will be addressed swiftly by the Community Health Network,” the school district said.

The health care center did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but said in a statement to ABC Indianapolis affiliate WRTV they were “working closely with MSD of Lawrence Township to determine the cause of the error and to evaluate processes.”

Insulin is used for people with diabetes to help control the amount of blood sugar in a person’s body. Side effects of the hormone can include redness, swelling, weight gain and constipation, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What to know about new breast cancer research

ozok/iStock(NEW YORK) — Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off on Tuesday.

Often associated with pink ribbons and 5K walks, the movement has been wildly popular; National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding for breast cancer totaled $520 million in 2016.

The increasing breast cancer awareness comes at a time when women can find substantial improvements in breast cancer treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments:

How common is breast cancer?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer death in women.

It is expected that more than 268,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer by the end of 2019, with more than 41,000 deaths reported this year.

It is estimated that more than three million women are living with breast cancer.

What you can do

We’ve known for a while that your risk of breast cancer gets lower with some lifestyle changes. Women who exercise, don’t smoke, don’t binge drink and stay a healthy weight after menopause have a lower risk.

Breast mammography, although imperfect, has been instrumental in detecting breast cancer when it does occur. Recommendations regarding screening are controversial; the question is the age that screening should begin.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends annual screening starting at age 40, while the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) believes that you should be screened every two years starting at age 50.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends annual screening at age 45, with the option for women to be screened when they’re 40 if they prefer. The differences reflect changing opinions on what age the benefits of screening outweigh the risks.

New to the scene is breast tomosynthesis, a 3D screening tool that received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Research has shown better cancer detection rates with tomosynthesis, and fewer “false alarms,” when women with no disease are mistakenly called back for further testing.

In patients with dense breast tissue, screening ultrasounds can improve detection rates. In patients with the highest risk of developing breast cancer, screening breast MRIs, in combination with mammography, have been shown to improve survival.

Factors in predicting accurate risk estimates

Doctors can check a few things to estimate your risk of breast cancer. There are many genetic risk factors, but they may also check for other mutations as well. The best-known mutations are BRCA1 and BRCA2, though doctors may not routinely check for them unless someone is high risk, meaning they have a known family history of the gene mutations or have a first-degree family member with breast cancer.

These mutations are inherited, so a doctor needs to know of any family members who have suffered breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Family history is very important, as physicians may decide to screen a woman earlier if a family member was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age.

Genetic history, however, only accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Receiving large doses of radiation to the chest between age 10 and 30, either for treatment of lymphoma or any other reason, would be another risk factor for developing breast cancer.

A look at some of the latest treatment options

A diagnosis of cancer is frightening, but with advances in treatment, you and your doctor can find an ideal treatment plan. Surgeons may take out the cancer in a procedure called a lumpectomy, with plans for radiation therapy following surgery.

This technique conserves most of the breast tissue. If the cancer is more advanced, a surgeon may perform a mastectomy, where the entire breast is removed.

There are many types of breast cancer; depending on the cancer’s hormone receptor status and genetic factors, different treatments may work better.

Advances in targeted therapies

Cancers with Estrogen Receptors (ER-positive) and Progesterone Receptors (PR-positive) may be given hormone therapy drugs to improve the outcome. Around two out of three breast cancers have at least one receptor.

Another important receptor is HER2, as this can be targeted with other medications. Cancers that don’t have any of these receptors are called “triple-negative” cancers and are typically more aggressive than other breast cancers.

These cancers may require more aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy. Not only will the tumor’s hormone receptor status be tested, but the rest of the genetic makeup of the cancer itself may also be tested.

Using tests such as MammaPrint or OncotypeDx, cancers can be classified into cancers that are low- or high-risk of recurrence. If you have a low genetic risk of recurrence, you may be able to avoid chemotherapy, based on recent research.

Other women may avoid chemotherapy if other factors suggest a low risk of recurrence, such as small tumor size or early stage of diagnosis.

Breast cancer is common, and scary, but you aren’t treating it alone. With new techniques and treatments, the medical community is better equipped to cure it than ever before. Be sure to keep up with regular screenings, and let your doctor know of any new symptoms.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Man’s bond with his son leads to surfing lessons for thousands of kids with autism

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The ocean can be a place of tranquility, relaxation and, most importantly, healing. Perhaps no one knows this better than pro surfers — a group of which is working to share the water with kids with autism.

Surfers Healing is a nonprofit organization of volunteer professional surfers dedicated to sharing their passion by providing free surf therapy for kids and adults with autism.

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that approximately 1 in 59 children have an autism spectrum disorder. Many people living with autism struggle with sensory overload, but some people find that the weightlessness and rhythms of the ocean can help ease that sensation.

Surfers Healing was founded in 1996 by pro surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his wife, Danielle. Paskowitz co-created the program after he found that surfing was an outlet to bond with his son Isaiah, who has autism.

“Being able to connect with Isaiah in the water doing what I Iove, which is surfing, was incredibly healing,” Paskowitz said.

Paskowitz said that initially it was difficult as a parent to accept that his son had the disorder.

“I really didn’t know anything about autism. I was young and a professional surfer, and I wanted him to be a surfer like me,” he said.

One day, Paskowitz took Isaiah surfing, and noticed that his son felt very calm and relaxed. He knew that this was something that he had to share with other families.

Using his network of surfers, he was able to organize an event to offer people with autism and their families “one perfect day” where kids with autism could try something new.

Today, Surfers Healing hosts nearly 30 events worldwide and offers therapeutic surfing to about 6,000 people with special needs. The organization recently concluded its East Coast tour in the United States, where it held about a dozen surf camps.

Mikey O’Shaughnessy, a pro surfer from Oahu, Hawaii, has volunteered as a surf instructor for Surfers Healing for four years. He finds that the surf camps are not only therapeutic for the participants, but for the surfers as well.

“In Hawaii, ‘ohana’ means ‘family,'” O’Shaughnessy told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “When I come to the East Coast, and for me to come and be a part of this … it’s really special, it’s a perfect day.”

On Sept. 8, the organization hosted the Autism Beach Bash at Belmar Beach, New Jersey, offering more than 300 people the opportunity to surf.

Elizabeth “Bethy” De Tata of Bricktown, New Jersey, attended along with her parents, Sue and Jim De Tata. Bethy is deaf and cerebral palsy has confined her to a wheelchair, but the New Jersey native was able to catch some waves at the event.

Bethy surfed for nearly 30 minutes while her family cheered her on from the shore.

“Surfers Healing is a great organization,” her mother, Sue De Tata, told GMA. “They go around the country holding these events, giving up their time and their money to do it, and it’s really great.”

The event has grown in size and outreach through the years, thanks to partnerships with companies such as Double Good, which donates half of its proceeds to nonprofits, including Surfers Healing.

Paskowitz hopes the organization continues to grow so that it can offer the therapeutic experience of surfing to more kids with autism.

“This is real surfers doing something real. We aren’t going to find a cure for autism, but for a long time, we’re going to take out kids,” he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Viral photo of kids’ lemonade stand raises over $77,000 for Ohio children’s hospital

Courtesy Hillary Weidner(CINCINNATI) — The old saying goes when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But for two Cincinnati families, the saying is more along the lines of when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, put your lemonade stand on Instagram and end up raising over $77,000 for a children’s hospital.

Best friends Hillary Weidner and Amanda Zerbe each have three children who are the same age. Weidner has three girls: Beatrice, Poppy and Louise. Zerbe has three boys: Jack, Briggs and Charlie.

Over Labor Day weekend, 5-year-old Briggs told his mom he wanted to have a lemonade stand. The Zerbes set up the lemonade and the Weidner girls came to help their friends sell some cups.

Weidner says the lemonade stand was set up for around 45 minutes and raked in $148 thanks to the help of their generous neighbors. The families decided they would give the money to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to not only teach their kids the importance of giving back, but also for a stronger personal connection.

Weidner told ABC News’ Good Morning America that her oldest, Beatrice, was born with a rare liver disease and was placed on a list to receive a liver transplant. Thankfully, after several tests, the Weidners found out that Hillary was a perfect match. Hillary and Beatrice underwent a 12-hour side-by-side surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where they were able to successfully remove a piece of Hillary’s liver and place it inside her daughter Beatrice.

“It was a crazy, traumatic, amazing experience,” Weidner said. “We owe so much to the hospital.”

Weidner says Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has a research center where they are working to grow organs in their labs in hopes of being able to help the nearly 100,000 people who are on the organ donor waitlist. The families wanted to give the money toward advancements in science to help people waiting for organs — like Beatrice once was.

“People with Bea’s condition die waiting for organs,” Weidner said. “We are so fortunate that we had a match and could do that, but that’s not the case with every family.”

Weidner and Zerbe wanted to teach a lesson in giving to their kids, so they made a giant check and brought it with them to give to the hospital. Weidner snapped a photo and posted it to her Instagram and flippantly asked anyone who wanted to match the children’s donation to send her a Venmo and she would make sure the money was donated.

She had no idea how many people would take her up on the request.

The picture of their children’s lemonade stand went viral and the donations began pouring in faster than lemonade was being poured into cups. Weidner quickly had hundreds then thousands in her Venmo account. Her post even caught the attention of some famous faces.

“Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper are coming to Cincinnati and we have tickets, so I pinged them on my Instagram story asking if they wanted some lemonade,” Weidner said. “Andy then mentioned it on his Sirius XM show and pledged $5,000 to our cause on behalf of him and Anderson.”

The total keeps climbing but as of today, their $148 has turned into over $77,000.

Weidner says she thinks the lemonade stand donations have taken off because people want to be a part of something good in the world.

“The news can be so negative. There are shootings, deaths, car accidents. We wanted to show that there are good people out there,” Weidner said.

Not only did Weidner and Zerbe want to highlight the good in the world, they also wanted to teach a valuable lesson to their children.

“Our job as parents of little kids is to raise a generation of givers,” Weidner said. “This was our teeny way of showing them that they can raise money for people who need it more than they do. We hope that when they’re older they will look back on this and feel excited and empowered.”

Weidner says the families will plan on having more lemonade stands in the future, even if they aren’t as lucrative.

“We would love to do an annual lemonade stand,” Weidner said. “Even if it only raises $50 this will be something that we continue and we want it ingrained in them that giving back is good and they can do something powerful.”

Weidner encourages people who would like to donate to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to send money through her Venmo account @hillary-weidner.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.