All Threads

Baby boy has life-saving surgery to give him a cow's heart valve

A baby boy has been given a heart valve taken from a cow in a life-saving operation. Bradley Harrison was in surgery for nine hours, during which his heart was stopped for six hours. His mum said she felt ‘sick’ when she first heard he needed part of the cow’s heart, but is now overjoyed that he is doing well. Amber Griffiths said she was offered an abortion at 24 weeks pregnant when doctors diagnosed him with five heart defects that meant he might not have survived the pregnancy.

She refused, and his life was saved with the bovine transplant when he was five-and-a-half months old. Now ten months, he has recovered well and is thought to be one of only a small number of babies given the pioneering treatment on the NHS.

He was able to enjoy his first Christmas and New Year with brothers Riley, three, and Lucas, two. Amber, 24, said: ‘At first I felt sick hearing that Bradley was going to have part of an animal put in him, but his chances of survival with the calf valve were high and it ended up saving his life. ‘We are all over the moon that he’s now doing so well.’ Amber and fiance Ryan Harrison, 24, were stunned to discover that they were expecting a third baby in June 2018. It was during her routine 20-week scan that Amber was told the baby had congenital heart disease.

She was given the devastating news that he had pulmonary atresia – where the pulmonary valve, which regulates blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs, does not form properly. ‘I knew something was wrong, I could feel it,’ Amber said. ‘The sonographer wouldn’t look at me in the face. ‘They told me there was a risk he wouldn’t make it to the end of the pregnancy, I could go into preterm labour and that he won’t breathe when he’s born.’ The mum-of-three decided to keep her son, even though her pregnancy left her bed bound and unable to look after her other boys. She also had a traumatic labour on Valentine’s Day after her placenta failed, which lead to her being put under anesthesia while Bradley was delivered via emergency C-Section.

After Bradley was born weighing 6lbs 2oz at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne, he was immediately taken to Freeman Hospital where Amber rushed to his side when she was discharged after 24 hours. Bradley was given a CT scan not long after birth where his parents were also told he had the heart condition Tetralogy of Fallot – four defects which limit the amount of oxygen carried by the blood. Following a heart and lung reconstruction nine days after he was born, Amber and Ryan thought their son’s health problems were over. He needed a new heart valve and was fitted with a plastic one. But despite the nine-hour op, the little boy’s issues had only just begun. Four months after his first operation, Amber panicked when Bradley started to turn blue when he cried.

Amber, of South Shields, said: ‘We rushed him to hospital, where they said his heart was starving his lungs of oxygen.’ The miracle baby underwent open heart surgery when he was five and a half months old, and had the life-saving bovine transplant, which saw tissue taken from a calf and used to repair Bradley’s valve. His heart was stopped for six hours while doctors operated and he needed four pints of blood. Bradley has been left with a large, vertical scar running down the centre of his chest from his open heart surgery. Amber said: ‘Bradley has been through so much in his life already. He’s such a fighter, there was no question about me not continuing with the pregnancy, I knew he would survive.” He already has his next open heart surgery planned for when he is two and a half years old, as his artificial valve needs to be replaced as he grows.

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Piccadilly Gardens stabbing spree 'was targeted attack on four homeless men', says victim left with 18 stitches

All four victims of a stabbing spree in Piccadilly Gardens were homeless men, one of the victims has said.

Tommy Dennison, 52, claimed in an interview with the Manchester Evening News this morning that he was drinking a cup of coffee outside Primark when a man came up and slashed him across the face with a lock-knife without saying a word.

The offender then stabbed another homeless man sat just metres away.

"He was outside Nero's where the bin is," said Tommy.

"I heard him screaming so I went over to help him.

"I tried to calm him down, he'd been stabbed twice, in the back and shoulder.

"Then I heard more screaming, from the other side of the street.

"There was a commotion, all these people were in the street, phoning police.

"Officers came from everywhere, it was a sea of blue."

Tommy says both the other two victims were also homeless men.

"One has a scar near his eye," he said.

"I saw him in hospital, his face was bad.

"The other guy has 180 stitches.

"[The attacker] was targeting the homeless, he didn't say anything, he just walked up and slashed me."

Although Tommy has had substance abuse problems and lived on the streets for many years, he has recently found accommodation.

He is now recovering at home after having 18 stitches to his face in hospital last night.

"It's sore but I'm OK," he said.

"Everybody will be worried out there.

"I'm off the streets now, I'm trying to turn my life around.

"There's some right evil out there.

"But Manchester is a safe place, it's just now and again there are some incidents."

Greater Manchester Police continues to investigate the stabbing incident and a 30-year-old man is in custody.

City centre spokesman for Manchester Council Pat Karney said on Twitter this morning: "Incident last night was a rough sleeper feuding with other rough sleepers."

Officers confirmed Taser was deployed as he was arrested on suspicion of serious assault at the scene on Market Street.

Eyewitness Mitchell Jemmeh was walking towards Market Street when he saw the incident unfolding in front of him last night.

He told the M.E.N.: "A homeless man was surrounded, he was screaming.

"At first sight I thought it was over money or he was on drugs, then a group of lads shouted to the people surrounding the homeless man: ‘he’s on the tram, he’s here’.

"Everybody on the tram got off leaving this one male on his own on the tram. He was cornered on the end carriage of the tram.

"Then two female PCSOs came running over being cautious telling the surrounding crowd to back off."

"Two or three plain clothes police officers then detained him, he was struggling trying to resist. He was then tasered and taken to the ground.

"As this is happening two other males appear to be stabbed, one was next to the first homeless man.

"He had a wound to the face and was bleeding from the face. The other was on the other side of the tram stop at a bin."

Greater Manchester Police said in a statement last night: " Shortly before 6.20pm this evening, police were called to reports that two people had been stabbed on Market Street.

"Officers attended and a 30-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of serious assault – a taser was deployed during the arrest.

"Four people have been injured and one has been taken to hospital for treatment.

"This is being treated as an isolated incident and there is not believed to be any wider threat to the public

"Anyone who witnessed the incident or has footage or information is urged to contact police.

"Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting incident number 2353 of 12/01/2020, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111."

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Stab victim reveals injuries after whiskey and cocaine-fuelled attack

A man has revealed his horrific wounds after he was stabbed in the stomach with a steak knife at a party because he had ordered a taxi home. 

Adam Robertson from Walker, Newcastle, was partying in a Quayside flat in the city when he decided and order a taxi home at 4.30am. 

Yet his friend, Nathan Andrewartha, 22, 'seemed to take offence' at Mr Robertson's decision to go home and flew into a cocaine and whiskey-fuelled rage inside the Dream Apartment on City Road.

Drenched in his own blood, Mr Robertson was left lying on a bed and feared he may die after the attack which could have easily ended in a murder charge, a judge ruled. 

Andrewartha, of Scrogg Road, Walker, was arrested and initially charged

But prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the lesser offence of unlawful wounding and wept as he was jailed for two years last week.

Recorder Jonathan Aitken told him that his actions could have seen him spend life behind bars. 

Mr Robertson said his attacker 'deserves' to behind bars and has revealed graphic pictures of his blood-stained t-shirt just moment after the attack on March 23 last year.

'I was in hospital for weeks because of what he did to me, and the doctors were worried I might not pull through,' he said.

'I've even lost my job because of what he did - he's just a scumbag.' 

Newcastle Crown Court heard earlier that night, Andrewartha had been 'showing off and bragging' about what he had done to other people.

With the steak knife tucked down his trousers, he threatened to stab a work colleague's boyfriend who had mistreated her.

Adam added: 'He was going around all night acting like an idiot, saying he was scared of nobody.

'I'll always remember him standing in the middle of the room with a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky, drinking it straight from the bottle.

'I ran at him and he ran at me but as we met, he stabbed me right in the belly and slashed me all over,' said Mr Robertson.

'I then got him in a headlock and he was trying to stab me even more but my friend took the knife off him.

'I looked him straight in the eye and said 'You've stabbed me'.

'He just went 'Aye, I know I have' and then he started crying.'

As he bled out, Mr Robertson claims Andrewartha, realising the seriousness of what he had done, begged those present not to contact the police before leaving and going home.

Mr Robertson was taken to hospital, where he had a 3.9ins wound behind his ear and a puncture wound to his abdomen.

And that night, his family kept a vigil at his bedside in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he was treated.

Recorder Jonathan Aitken said: 'I have to sentence you for unlawful wounding on a person who used to be your friend when, in a drink and drug-fuelled state and not thinking correctly, you took umbrage at him due to some imagined slight because of the way you were intoxicated.

'You attacked him, he thought he had been punched but in fact you had a knife in your hand and that inflicted a very serious injury.

'It could so very easily have ended his life and yours as well, to all intents and purposes, because you would have got life imprisonment.' 

The court heard how Mr Robertson's injuries left him unable to work and he lost his job as a result.

Mr Robertson said he is also now cautious when out in public and spends most of his time at home.

'What he did left me really deflated,' he said.

'For me, what happened since was all about rebuilding my confidence as I've always been in work so he has robbed me of that.'

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Teen lucky to be alive after croc attacks turtle

A Townsville teenager who jumped into the sea to save a struggling turtle has had the shock of his life after the struggling animal was eaten by a crocodile that crept up on them.

Coree Summerville, 15, escaped unscathed after his kind-hearted rescue attempt took a dramatic turn at The Strand pier on Townsville's foreshore.

He'd been fishing there on Saturday when he noticed the turtle struggling and belly up in the water.

After about 20 minutes it floated ashore and we went down onto the beach and saw that it was a turtle struggling to swim," Coree told 9News.

What he didn't realise was that a croc was watching.

After the teen hit the water, the reptile struck, biting the turtle Coree was holding.

"The croc came out of nowhere and just took a chunk of it," said Coree.

"I just dropped the turtle, ran, I was freaking out."

The teenager said he and his friends rang the HQ Aquarium Turtle Hospital after the attack.

"I then jumped back in the water and swam this turtle to shore," said Coree.

"I was pretty scared – if that croc had missed the turtle it could've got me."

Swimming enclosures on The Strand esplanade were closed after the drama, with the croc to be targeted for removal if authorities can find it.

Croc sightings are relatively common in the Townsville area with dozens reported last year.

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Mother, 19, who was diagnosed with untreatable brain cancer months before giving birth dies after 16-month battle to fight the tumor

A 19-year-old who was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor months before giving birth has died after more than a year of battling to find a cure.  

Dana Scatton, of Pennsylvania, was seven months pregnant in December 2017 when a brain scan revealed she had diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

It is one of the most devastating cancers, which affects 300 children a year, most of whom are under 10 years old. No one has survived with DIPG for longer than 18 months, and it does not respond to any treatment. 

Despite some recent efforts to test moonshot treatments for DIPG in clinical trials, researchers have long struggled to find any glimmers of progress - and have therefore struggled to get funding to keep trying.  

Dana delivered her daughter, Aries Marie, a month early on January 4, 2018, before starting radiation treatment, and traveling to a clinic in Mexico, which promotes a 'cure' for DIPG, though they have not succeeded and doctors accuse the clinic of preying on vulnerable families. 

There were moments of hope and progress, but this week, on Easter Monday, her family told well-wishers Dana had passed away.   

We may never have the right things to say to truly honor the amazing, smart, loving, caring, passionate, incredibly beautiful and free spirited mother, daughter, niece, sister, cousin, friend and independent woman Dana was every day,' the family wrote on Facebook. 

'She inspired us all to be better than who we are and to keep God in our focus at every moment. She faced the greatest fear of all, death, and smiled back with a grin only God can instill. She fought harder than the toughest warriors known to man and did it with grace and valor.'

DIPG tumors usually start in the brain stem, the part of the organ that's located just above the back of the neck and connected to the spine. It controls breathing, nerves and muscles that help people see, hear, walk, talk and eat.

There is no known cure for the disease and scant treatment options due to lack of funding for research. 

It is a vicious cycle: organizations are reluctant to fund research into something that seems so untreatable; most funding into child cancers goes to leukemia, which is the most researched child cancer. 

Without funding and research, it will remain mysterious - and in turn, it will remain difficult for researchers to get funding to dispel the mystery.

Due to the tumor's location in Dana's brain, it started taking over her motor functions - making it more difficult for her to walk, talk and breathe.

At points, MRI scans suggested that the radiation treatments were shrinking the tumor, 'with no signs of blocking her pons,' the part of the brain involved in the control of breathing, communication and balance. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, clinical trials have shown that traditional chemotherapy aren't effective. 

As a result, many parents of DIPG patients from all over the world have turned to the controversial Dr Alberto Siller, who has a dubious clinic located in Monterrey, Mexico, as a last resort. 

The highly controversial treatment, with no evidence of success, involves an untested mix of 11 chemotherapy drugs, injected into an artery in the brainstem that costs $300,000, reported Science Based Medicine

But doctors who run the clinic have not performed any clinical trials, peer-reviewed studies or published survival and recurrence statistics. 

A family from Rogers, Arkansas flew to Monterrey, Mexico in July 2017 for their daughter Addy Sooter, three, who was diagnosed with DIPG, to receive experimental chemotherapy treatment at Dr Siller's 0-19 Clinic.

In September 2017, an Australian family traveled to Monterrey in hopes of a last-ditch treatment for their then-four-year-old daughter Annabelle Nguyen, who was diagnosed with DIPG when she was two years old. 

A year ago, Annabelle's family said the five-year-old had 'no evidence of disease,' a term used when scans and tests can't find cancer in a person who has been treated for the illness. 

But that apparent progress did not last. Both girls since passed away, dealing a blow to parents desperate for answers. 

There are now highly-anticipated clinical trials in Australia, the UK and the US. They have reached out to Clinica 0-19 to collaborate or review their work, but the clinic has refused. 

Dana, the youngest of nine children, told in December 2017 that right before she was diagnosed she started to experience difficulty speaking, which had become strenuous.

'I noticed that it took me a little to swallow, then walking got harder and it was even hard to speak,' Dana said.  

She said things got worse in the beginning of December when she went to catch the bus to take her to school and her legs began to feel limp, leaving her too unable to walk properly.  

At first Dana thought it could just be stress from the pregnancy and school.

'I thought it could be the way the baby was sitting on nerves,' she added.

Less than two weeks after her initial symptoms, Dana told her doctor what she was experiencing during a routine visit to check on the baby.

She was in the emergency room the next day where she underwent a cat scan and MRI that found a large tumor on the base of her brain.

Within hours of the MRI doctors delivered the diagnosis and prognosis. 

Dana said the first thing that went through her mind when she heard the diagnosis was: 'Is my baby going to be okay?'

Both Lenore and Dana's father Robert took time off of their jobs at Amazon and a YMCA to take care of their daughter full-time. 

The support from family and friends has been overwhelming and Lenore said that since Dana's brother JJ took to Facebook and made a GoFundMe for medical expenses, people from around the world including Ukraine and Germany have reached out to send their prayers and support. 

Dana said: 'I just want to be a wonderful mother.'

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Mother reveals how she nicknamed her daughter, 6, 'Little Miss Bump' because she was a 'clumsy kid' before discovering that a BRAIN TUMOUR was causing her to fall over

A mother has revealed how her daughter who she thought was just incredibly clumsy was actually suffering from a brain tumour - and that falling out of bed may have saved her life.    

Shelley Dunlop, 30, from Dorset, told how she gave up on trying to teach her daughter Annabelle Ginn, now seven, who was nicknamed 'Little Miss Bump,' how to ride a bike as she kept toppling off it.

'We did our best to get her on a bike but we got nowhere as her balance was just so bad,' she explained. 'She couldn't even ride a scooter without falling off so we gave up on both.

'And from as long as I can remember, Annabelle has been incredibly clumsy. She was always tripping – she'd manage to stumble over nothing on a flat floor.'

She continued: 'It got worse when she started school and she'd come home with an accident form most days.

'One teacher nicknamed her Little Miss Bump and another suggested we get her tested for dyspraxia, which was on my to-do list.

'She's always been a bubbly, chatty, happy little girl and we didn't think anything of it – we just thought she was a clumsy kid.'

But after Annabelle, who was six at the time, fell out of her cabin bed and three days later started suffering excruciating headaches and vomiting, a scan revealed a tennis-ball sized brain tumour.

Doctors told the shocked mother that it had probably been growing for years and was the cause of Annabelle's balance problems.

They said that falling out of bed had probably caused fluid on her brain to build up, which triggered the headaches and sickness. 

'Thank goodness Annabelle fell out of bed – I'm convinced it saved her life as it led to her diagnosis,' said Shelley, who works as a health care assistant.

'You hear the words, "your child has a brain tumour" and you just can't take it in.

'It was surreal and I couldn't register this was happening to my little girl – it felt like I was watching a TV show.

'All the time we'd thought she was just clumsy, she was walking around with a ticking time bomb inside her head.'

After a 10-hour operation to remove the tumour, Annabelle was in hospital for a month as she had to relearn how to walk and talk again.

Eight months on, she has been left with weakness on her left side and impaired vision in her left eye, but is back at school full-time.

Now, Shelley is planning to give Annabelle 'the best Christmas ever' and 'counts her blessings' that she is doing so well.

She is sharing their story through The Brain Tumour Charity to support its HeadSmart campaign to raise awareness of children's brain tumour symptoms and reduce diagnosis time.

'We didn't have a clue that poor balance was a possible symptom of a brain tumour,' explained Shelley.

'If we had, Annabelle would probably have been diagnosed earlier and her tumour wouldn't have grown so big and caused as much damage.' 

The family's nightmare started on April 9 when Shelley and her partner Troy, 31, were downstairs when they head a crash from Annabelle's bedroom around 7pm.

'We ran into Annabelle's room and she was on the floor holding her head,' explained Shelley. 'She said she'd hit it when she fell out of bed trying to shut her blinds.

'We checked her over for bumps and cuts and she said she was OK, so I gave her a cuddle and tucked her back in bed.'

The next day, Annabelle seemed fine but three days later, she woke up with a headache and got sick.

After taking her to the GP, Shelley was told it was most likely due to bruising from the fall and was sent away.

But the following morning, Annabelle woke up with a headache and vomited again, so her concerned mother took her to The Royal Bournemouth Hospital where she works.

'She was under observation and a doctor said she had concussion and was going to send her home with Calpol,' she explained. 'Then Annabelle had a headache and they saw for themselves how much pain she was in.'

Doctors decided Annabelle needed a CT scan and sent her to Poole Hospital, which has a paediatric unit - and five hours later she was taken for a scan.

'By then, I was by myself as Troy had to go back to work,' recalled Shelley. 'As soon as a nurse asked me to go into another room, I knew something was seriously wrong. Doctors told me that Annabelle had a large tumour near her brain stem.'

They said she had to be transferred immediately to University Southampton Hospital's paediatric neurology department for a more detailed MRI scan. 

'I'd been convinced they were going to say she had concussion and send me home with an information leaflet – not turn our world upside down in seconds.

'I had so many questions racing through my mind that I was scared to ask, but I made myself ask: "Is she going to die?" 'I was terrified.'

Shelley rang Annabelle's dad, her ex-partner, Alfie, to break the news and he met her to travel in the ambulance with their little girl to Southampton.

'I was in tears while Annabelle wolfed down a packet of crisps as she hadn't had any dinner,' said Shelley. 'She looked fine so I couldn't take it in she had a brain tumour.

'When she asked, "Mummy, why are you crying?" I told her I'd stubbed my toe.'

The next day, Annabelle's MRI confirmed that she had a brain tumour.

'I felt sick when we saw the scan and the lump a size of a tennis ball in my little girl's brain,' said Shelley.

The next morning, Annabelle had 10-hour surgery and Shelley went down to theatre with her.

'Watching her being put to sleep on the table knowing she might not make it or not wake up the little girl I knew was the hardest thing I've ever done,' she said. 'It felt like an eternity.'

Finally, she was told Annabelle was in recovery in the intensive care unit.

'She had wires everywhere, including a drain allowing fluid to drain from her brain,' said Shelley.

And she suffered another devastating blow when doctors explained Annabelle had posteria fossa syndrome - a condition sometimes caused after surgery to the cerebellum - causing paralysis down the left side of her body. 

'She couldn't move, speak or swallow for five days,' said Shelley. 'Her dad and I hardly left her side.'

'Our six-year-old had reverted to a new born state and had to have a feeding tube. To start with, all she did was cry or throw up.

'It broke my heart to see my giggly little chatterbox just sitting there with a blank look on her face and no expression in her eyes. She looked empty.'

Another MRI scan showed surgeons had removed most of the tumour, while biopsy results later revealed it was a grade one (non-cancerous) pilocytic astrocytoma .

'We were so relieved Annabelle's tumour wasn't cancerous and felt like we'd won an unlucky lottery,' said Shelley. 

Back on the ward, Annabelle started her rehabilitation. 

Shelley communicated with her using a thumbs up or thumbs down, and the little girl's condition improved slowly thanks to physio and occupational therapists.

Annabelle's first achievement was being able to roll over by herself, then sit up with help, itch her nose and sit up on her own. Poignantly, she had to go through all her 'firsts' again.

'Annabelle had to relearn her first steps, first words and first time using the toilet,' said Shelley. 

'It's something no parent should ever have to go through.'

But there were some precious 'firsts' too.

'The first time she said "I love you, Mummy" again was incredible and so emotional,' explained Shelley. 'And another magical moment was when she was able to smile again.

Of course what Annabelle remembers most is being able to eat again when we took her out in a wheelchair for her favourite Subway lunch.'

Back at home, Annabelle – who now has scans every six months - went back to school part-time in June and was full-time by September.

'She still wears a patch to correct double vision in her left eye caused by nerve damage in surgery,' explained Shelley. 'We take her wheelchair most places as she still gets very tired.'

'Annabelle is more introverted and not as laid back as she was before surgery. She's still having physio and seeing a psychiatrist, but considering everything she's been through, she's doing brilliantly.'

'We're slowly but surely getting back our feisty little girl who loves Netflix, playing chess and her puppy Evee.

'And we're going to give her the best Christmas ever and have planned trips to Winter Wonderland and Disney on Ice in London – I can't wait to see her face light up.'

Now Shelley cherishes every second with her daughter.

'We're among the lucky ones as Annabelle's future looks hopeful,' she explained. 'I am so proud of her and every day I count my blessings we've got her.'

Sarah Lindsell, The Brain Tumour Charity's chief executive, commented: 'We are so sorry Annabelle and her family have been through such an ordeal.

'And we are incredibly grateful to Shelly for sharing her gorgeous little girl's story to help us raise awareness about our HeadSmart campaign.

'Annabelle's experience highlights how symptoms like balance problems can possibly be a warning sign of a brain tumour, especially when linked to other symptoms like persistent headaches and vomiting.

'HeadSmart has two aims: to save lives and reduce long-term disability by bringing down diagnosis times.

'On average, the campaign has halved diagnosis time from 13 weeks to 6.5 weeks, and we are determined to get that down to four weeks or under.

'We are delighted for Annabelle and her family that she is doing so well and wish them a very happy Christmas.'

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Cystic fibrosis sufferer being 'suffocated by own body' pleads for 'wonder drug'

The family of a young woman critically ill with cystic fibrosis have issued a plea to NHS chiefs and drug firm bosses to provide her with a breakthrough drug that could save her life.

Nicole Adams, 28, from Belfast, is in the end stages of the genetic disease that affects 10,000 Britons and kills half of sufferers before they reach the age of 40. Nicole’s lung function hovers at just 13 per cent, leaving her struggling to breathe.

Hospitalised a month ago with flu, in a video message to well-wishers she described the feeling as ‘like being suffocated by my own body’. Her condition seemed stable until Wednesday, when she was suddenly rushed into intensive care. Doctors are now battling to clear her airways.

Her only real hope lies in a new medicine that can dramatically improve lung function – but the pioneering pill is not yet licensed in Europe or approved for NHS patients. UK doctors may not be able to start prescribing it until 2021, as financial watchdogs who assess drugs are ‘very busy’ at the moment, according to sources.

The drug, called Trikafta, has, however, been available in America since October, after US authorities gave it the green light following ‘stunning’ clinical trial results. In the next few months it will also be available in the Republic of Ireland – just a short train ride away from Nicole but under an entirely separate healthcare system.

Trikafta has been dubbed the ‘Holy Grail’ by cystic fibrosis sufferers and campaigners.

Although it has not yet been passed by the European drug safety body, the company which makes it, Vertex, could bypass the system and supply it directly to Nicole’s medical team. So-called ‘compassionate use’ of new drugs is legal, if sanctioned by doctors in a bid to save the sickest patients.

Nicole’s devoted boyfriend Ciaran McVarnock has also launched an appeal to raise the estimated £20,000 it would cost to buy a one-month supply of Trikafta from America. By yesterday they had almost reached their target. Yet, while the fund may buy Nicole time, what she and other patients in similarly bleak situations need urgently is a longer-term solution, say her supporters.

Speaking last week to The Mail on Sunday from Nicole’s bedside at Belfast City Hospital, Irish boxing champion Ciaran, 27, said: ‘They’re calling Trikafta the wonder drug. It’s saved lives, and we need to get it for Nicole as soon as possible.

‘I know it’s a complicated situation, and the care she has received is incredible, but this is life and death for her – it makes me so angry and frustrated that the drug is out there and that she can’t get it.

‘We’ve been overwhelmed by the positivity from around the world – we’ve even had cystic fibrosis patients in America offer to send Nicole their Trikafta tablets, saying it’s made them feel so much better they could do without it for a bit, but of course we can’t accept.

‘She needs her doctors to give it to her, and she ticks all the boxes to receive it on compassionate grounds. Nicole is a fighter, she is so strong, but I’m worried about how much fight she has left in her. She is trying to stay positive. We all are. But she needs Trikafta now.’

At the end of October, the Government announced a landmark deal for cystic fibrosis medicines – ending a four-year row with the drug manufacturer, Vertex, over costs. The contract to supply the tablets Orkambi and Symkevi was said to be the largest financial deal of its kind in NHS history – potentially amounting to £100 million over two years. But the talks dragged on for so long the drugs are now, since the introduction of Trikafta in America, ‘obsolete’, some campaigners have claimed.

Last month, this newspaper revealed how NHS chiefs, under pressure from politicians wanting to break the deadlock, signed the deal for Orkambi and Symkevi – but not Trikafta, because they were unable to agree on a price for the newer drug. At present, if a medicine is to be approved for routine NHS use, first the European Medicines Agency has to give it a licence. Then UK prescribing watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) assesses its value – a complex calculation based on the cost of the drug versus how well it works.

If it brings a significant improvement in quality of life and reduces the amount of other treatments a patient needs, it is deemed cost-effective and given the green light. Finally, NHS England make a financial agreement with the drug’s makers before it goes to patients.

Publicly available documents show that Vertex wanted NHS England to pay a single price per patient, per year, that would cover all cystic fibrosis drugs, as well as those being developed – namely Trikafta, which was showing promise in trials from 2017. Although financial details are confidential, The Mail on Sunday has been told the amount Vertex was asking for was close to £50,000 – for Orkambi, Symkevi, an older drug Kalydeco, and the then-forthcoming Trikafta.

NICE and NHS England would pay only up to £12,000 per patient, per year, sources have said. And not without reason: Orkambi and Symkevi bring about only a modest improvement in health. Many clinicians believed the price Vertex was asking was too high. Vertex argued the figure reflected the game-changing nature of Trikafta.

NHS chiefs seemed unwilling, or unable, to put faith – and finances – into a drug that wasn’t yet launched. Neither side was prepared to budge and in May, despite all parties knowing how important the new drug was, Trikafta was ‘taken off the table’ in talks. The result of the impasse is that Trikafta was approved for use in America on October 21, and two days later Orkambi and Symkevi – older, less effective drugs – were approved for UK use.

While they do stabilise symptoms, slowing deterioration, Trikafta, improves lung function – and is four times as effective. And while Orkambi and Symkevi work for less than 45 per cent of cystic fibrosis patients, Trikafta is effective in 90 per cent of cases. Experts anticipate almost all patients on Orkambi or Symkevi will switch to the newer drug, once they can get it. Many suggest it will turn cystic fibrosis from a fatal illness to a chronic, manageable disease – extending life expectancy.

Nicole has battled gradually worsening health since her teens, and other complications mean a heart and lung transplant isn’t an option. She was given early access to Orkambi at the end of last year but suffered a bad reaction and had to stop taking it.

She ran her own hair salon in Belfast but earlier this year was forced to close the business due to her worsening health.

She was started on Symkevi at the beginning of last week and seemed to be getting stronger. But then, on Wednesday, her condition suddenly worsened.

Cystic fibrosis causes thick, sticky mucus to build up inside the body – clogging the lungs and digestive system. This leads to problems with absorbing nutrients and makes sufferers prone to infections in the airways. The result, ultimately, is irreversible, fatal lung damage.

Orkambi, Symkevi and Trikafta all work by ‘switching on’ a process in cells that helps balance the levels of salt and water in bodily fluids, thinning the mucus.

At first, the drug can cause a dramatic increase in the amount of mucus in a patients’ lungs, which then has to be coughed up. This, say her family, may be the cause of Nicole’s current, acute breathing difficulties.

For all cystic fibrosis patients, daily physiotherapy sessions involve exercises designed to help bring up mucus from the lungs, clearing the airways.

But for someone as unwell as Nicole, who is unable to walk more than a few feet without becoming utterly exhausted, these sessions represent a mammoth physical task.

Whatever happens next, for a patient such as Nicole with end-stage cystic fibrosis, Trikafta could be not simply a lifeline, but a chance to live normally again.

To add to the family’s frustration, after a deal done last week by health chiefs in the Republic of Ireland, patients there will be prescribed Trikafta as soon as it gains a European safety licence, expected by April. The Irish Health Service Executive signed a pipeline deal – of the type ‘taken off the table’ in UK talks.

This will come as little comfort to Nicole and her family in Northern Ireland, which is under the NHS.

In the past two weeks, following The Mail on Sunday’s initial report, NHS England and NICE have met, separately, with Vertex to try to thrash out a deal for Trikafta.

A source close to the negotiations said: ‘NHS England have now said they want to do a deal as soon as possible for Trikafta, so the UK doesn’t lag behind other European countries when the drug is approved in early 2020. But NICE have said they’re very busy, and it could take up to a year to assess the drug.

Many people involved feel this is completely unacceptable, when patients are in such desperate need right now.’

Nicole remains in a critical condition. But as soon as she is well enough, her family want her to be able to start on Trikafta.

Ciaran said: ‘She should have had it before now. It’s what she really needs.

‘But it’s not just about Nicole, it’s about everyone who comes after her – I’ve seen first-hand what people with cystic fibrosis go through. They need Trikafta now.’

A spokesman for Vertex said: ‘We cannot comment on specific patients, but take all requests for compassionate use of our medicines very seriously. We are working diligently to assess these requests as quickly as possible once they are received from a patient’s doctor, which is the sole means of initiating this process.’

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Mum can't wrap kids' Christmas presents after Parkinson's diagnosis at just 34

Age 21, Nicky Doyle, noticed that her hand started to shake. At the time, she was working as a finance manager and in her spare time, loved running and exercising and thought she was just stressed by her busy lifestyle. She made trip after trip to see her doctors and was given a whole range of explanations. She had no idea that the shake in her hand was the first sign of Parkinson’s – a progressive neurological condition, which means the brain slowly deteriorates over time. It took 13 years for Nicky to finally get her diagnosis, at the age of 34. Nicky, from Brierley Hill, Dudley, was told she has early onset Parkison’s as the condition usually happens in people over the age of 50 – just 4% of cases each year are younger. Nicky tells ‘I first noticed a little tremor to start with but I thought it was just stress. ‘I went to the doctors and they diagnosed me with an underactive thyroid, which seemed pretty minor. ‘It was gradually getting worse and I was told it was dystonia, which is a type of uncontrolled muscle movement.’ Dystonia is associated with Parkinson’s but Nicky’s condition was not linked because of her age. By 26, Nicky was fed up with the tremor that was gradually getting worse and she again went to the doctor for more test.

But before she could be referred further, she found out she was pregnant with her daughter Olivia. She explains: ‘Throughout the pregnancy, I didn’t shake once. I felt fabulous. It was great. And then the minute I had her, it all came flooding back and I was even worse. ‘I couldn’t really feed her, I couldn’t bath her. It was really horrendous. ‘It was a really difficult time as a new mum. I cried so many times, I think my eyes dried out.’ With her tremor now having a huge impact on her life, she insisted on further investigations into the cause but she was told again it was just dystonia.

‘I was trying all sorts of things – alternative therapies, yoga, hypnosis, supplements, exercise and meditation. You name it, I did it – but nothing was helping.’ Eventually, four years ago, Nicky was referred to a neurologist and she asked for a DAT scan – a test used to diagnosis Parkinson’s by measuring the level of dopamine receptor cells in the brain. She says: ‘I think, by then, I knew it was Parkinson’s. I just knew my body. ‘I wanted an answer. I was sick to death of feeling awful all the time. ‘As a young woman, I just wanted to be normal.

‘I was so anxious about going out because people would come up to me and think I was drunk or on drugs. It got to the point where I hated leaving the house because of the stares. ‘People don’t realise that young people get Parkinson’s – they see it as something that happens to older people.’ At the end of the test, Nicky looked at the technologist and said: ‘I’ve got Parkinson’s, don’t I?’ She wasn’t able to give Nicky an answer as the diagnosis comes from a doctor but she told Nicky ‘What will be will be.’ Nicky adds: ‘I just knew I had it. Two weeks later, I got the phone call to say I needed to see the doctor. I was like a woman possessed. I made the doctor tell me over the phone. ‘Three days later, I went to see the doctor to talk about it. I went on my own because I didn’t want to deal with anyone else’s emotions.

‘I actually just dealt with it. I just asked what I had to do and what tablets I  had to take. After struggling for so long, it was a relief to know what it was.’ But although Nicky was now able to take medication to slow down the progression of the condition, it still had a huge impact on her life. She explains: ‘At the time I was running a construction firm with my ex-husband but is was so difficult. ‘I’ve given up work now. I’m only 38 and I find that really hard to deal with.’ For Nicky, one of the most difficult times was at Christmas as she feels she wasn’t able to do some of the things that make this time of year special. She says: ‘Wrapping Christmas presents was one of the things for me because my hands would shake so much, my mum has had to do it for me for years. ‘I can laugh about it because I will say I’d say I could do it but I’ll end up going through a whole roll of wrapping paper and wouldn’t have wrapped one present. It was upsetting.’ Nicky uses medication and regular exercise to help with her symptoms but her condition cannot be cured. She says: ‘It has helped as if I didn’t take medication, I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or function properly. ‘I do need help and every day is different but it is working for me at the minute.’

Being a mum to Olivia and William, now six, Nicky says it is hard being a mum and dealing with the condition. She says: ‘Some days it’s just those little things like fastening buttons or tying your child’s shoelaces. ‘There’s very little support for kids who are watching their mum, dad or grandparent slowly deteriorate. ‘My kids have never known any different but one of the worst things I have heard my little girl say is “Mummy, is Parkinson’s going to kill you?” I was in bits. ‘It is very challenging and it affects every element of my life.’ She adds that in a way, she is glad it took so long to get a diagnosis because she thinks if she had known when she was younger, she wouldn’t have had children. ‘They are such a blessing and I couldn’t imagine life without them but it would have been very different if I had been diagnosed when I first had symptoms,’ she says.

Despite everything, Nicky has remained positive. She says: ‘I actually count myself really lucky because there are people who are much worse. At the minute I am doing ok and I take it day by day. ‘I do believe that anything is possible with some help and support. ‘It is really hard for my family and we don’t really talk about it because I am their daughter and they are looking after me.

‘My mum comes in and helps me with cleaning and cooking and is like my carer. Without her, I would be lost.’ Nicky is the face of the Parkinson’s UK campaign and she works with the charity to raise awareness of the condition. She adds: ‘They’re doing amazing work both in getting the message out there about Parkinson’s and helping people understand but also in raising money for research. ‘I hope that this money they raise over Christmas will go towards better treatment.’


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Real estate agent, 26, who vows to beat cancer after being told she has just months to live receives more devastating news

A young woman who has been given just months to live but refuses to accept her diagnosis has one more opportunity to save her life. 

Cairns real estate agent Lisa Griffiths was first diagnosed with brain cancer when she was just 22 years old when a 6.7cm tumour was discovered in 2015. 

Now 26, she travelled to Mexico where she underwent a course of treatment not yet available in Australia. 

But during the course, Ms Griffiths was told the tumour in her skull was growing at a 'rapid pace' to the point of being able to feel it at the back of her head. 

She returned to Australia on Thursday.

An update on GoFundMe by her friend Megs Whiteside revealed that new lesions have been spotted on Ms Griffiths' lungs. 

Ms Griffiths previously battled the aggressive cancer for four years, which saw her learning to walk again and suffering memory loss and speech difficulties. 

'When I was first diagnosed at 22 they gave me a year [to live] and I survived,' Ms Griffiths previously told Daily Mail Australia.  

Ms Griffiths will now undergo a clinical trial agreed upon with her neurosurgeon and plastic surgeon. 

'Lisa has an extremely rare soft tissue cancer,' Ms Whiteside wrote.

'So rare that there are few people in the world with this type of lesion as a primary intracranial tumour.

'This has always made her case extremely unusual and has made treating her very difficult. 

'Given the nature of this aggressive disease, Lisa's specialist team suggested she proceed with a clinical trial as soon as possible in hopes to shrink the tumours, as all other treatments have been unsuccessful.'

Ms Griffiths has already had her first dose of the treatment in the clinical trial and 'tolerated this extremely well'. 

She thanked the community for their continuous support.

The GoFundMe page has since reached $162,967 of the $150,000 goal and continues to grow. 

After having spent $250,000 of her own money, Ms Griffiths believes the majority of the money has been contributed by friends and local businesses in the Cairns area.

'Never once has she ever complained or looked for sympathy even when she was devastatingly faced with loss of eyesight,' Ms Whiteside wrote on the fundraiser.

'Through every grim diagnosis and only weeks after each surgery she turned up to work every day with a positive attitude, always looking to make others smile.'

Ms Griffiths' partner Troy McGuane has also contributed to the cause by sharing an impassioned video online asking for help. 

Mr McGuane almost broke down in tears as he spoke of the terminal diagnosis and the public's generosity.

'The support has humbled myself and Lisa and I have cried multiple times today, not in sadness but due to me being so proud of her,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

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Daughter of woman mauled to death by her eight-year-old pit bull Amigo

A Massachusetts woman has died after she was mauled to death by her dog while suffering a seizure - but the family won't put the canine down. 

Melissa Astacio, 44, was suffering a seizure in her Somerset home on Friday when her eight-year-old pit bull named Amigo attacked her. 

Police were called to the home around 5.20pm by Melissa's daughter Heaven.

Responding officers were forced to taser the dog before paramedics could assist Astacio, who had a history of seizures. 

She was rushed to the hospital and died from her injuries.  

'I don't think he was trying to attack her,' Heaven said to WJAR. 'I think the dog was just trying to help my mom but he's just a dog and he didn't know any better.'

'What happened that night, it never happened like that before. I don't want to see my dog get put down for something he was only trying to help with,' she added.  

She said her dog had never reacted violently in the past to her mother having a seizure. 

'The dog would just lay on the side of her and like sniff her and stuff like that,' Heaven said. 

The dog Amigo was brought to Swansea Animal Rescue where he was placed in quarantine as officials investigate the incident. 

The family had Amigo since he was a puppy.  

While pit bulls are stereotyped as dangerous dogs, experts say the breed isn't necessarily more aggressive than other canines. 

'Every dog has behavior that comes from both nature and nurture, and no breed is inherently good or inherently bad any more than any human being is,' Dr. Terri Bright, director of behavior services at MSPCA-Angell said, according to the Boston Herald

Astacio's death has shook the community as some locals left flowers on the doorstep of the mother-of-three. 

'All my mom ever wanted was for me and her three kids to have a better life than she could,' Heaven said.  

Police do not believe criminal conduct or foul play is suspected.

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Stricken baby left with 'bulging soft spot' on his head after 'dad battered him'

A baby was left horribly injured and suffering from a ‘bulging soft spot’ on his head after his dad battered him, police say. Victor Morales, 23, was charged with injury to a child with serious bodily harm on Wednesday in Wichita Falls, Texas after the child was discovered to have severe head trauma in September. Police say the baby was rushed to the emergency room at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth due to a brain bleed and bulging soft spot. The infant’s mother said her son had been crying and throwing up his bottles on the night before she took him to the hospital, which is when she noticed he had a popped blood vessel in his eye.

She said Morales told her their son fell off a bed when he was getting a bottle. But doctors at the hospital later said they believe the injuries were ‘non-accidental’ and could only come from a car accident or a violent force such as shaking or slamming.

The child’s mother said she called Morales to tell him her son was in the hospital and he began to ‘freak out’ because he was the only person with the child that day. Morales said his son woke up fussy so he changed the child’s diaper, then went to go make him a bottle.

He said while he was gone, he heard a thump and later found the child on the floor. Police arrested Morales this week and he now faces a first-degree felony, although authorities have not revealed what led them to charge Morales, who is being held in jail on $100,000 bond. Last year, Morales was arrested for possession of marijuana and trespassing at a Walmart he was previously banned from.

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Grandma Goes Mission Impossible While Dangling A 7 Y.O. From The 5th Floor to Rescue Her Cat

If the thought that your pet is more precious to you than anything else has ever crossed your mind, we are almost certain this video captured in China might make you reconsider your priorities. As much as we all love our pets, most of us probably wouldn’t risk our child or any other young kid just to get our beloved pet to safety. Well, this grandma has her priorities in quite a different order, apparently. When the reckless lady noticed her cat sitting on a ledge one floor lower, the best idea for rescuing the feline that popped into her head was apparently to risk the life of her own grandchild and dangle him from the balcony on a rope. Only in China, right?

Passers by filmed this little clip that shows the Chinese grandma dangling her 7-year-old grandson named Hao Hao on a rope from the 5th floor balcony in a risky attempt to rescue her beloved cat that was stuck on a ledge one level below their apartment. Footage shows how the boy balances on the tiny ledge, supported by the rope held by his grandma and puts the cat in the bag (no pun intended?) and then both of them get pulled back up to safety by the same grandma, assisted by the boy’s uncle.

The reckless grandmother who’s only known by her surname Tang, was widely criticized after the footage went viral first all over Chinese social media and then all over the world. A spokesperson at the local residential committee, Wang Ying, told BJ News that they had criticized and educated Ms. Tang. She insisted that Hao Hao was not hurt. The spokesperson added that the boy was a first-grade pupil and that his parents were working in another city, leaving him to live with his grandparents.

Ms. Tang said she didn’t feel she was causing her grandson any danger at the time but felt scared for him after watching the footage. Setting that aside, we have to admit one thing – she may not be the most responsible but she’s certainly one hella strong grandma!

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Man jailed for 16 years for pulling down gay flag and burning it

A homophobe has been jailed for 16 years for stealing and burning a Church’s LGBTQ pride flag. Adolfo Martinez, 30, was sent to jail in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, over the incident at Ames United Church on June 11. He snatched the banner from outside the place of worship – whose pastor Eileen Gebbie is hereself gay – then torched it outside a lapdancing club called Dangerous Curves.

He was handed the lengthy sentence after being convicted of a felony hate crime, third-degree harassment, and reckless use of fire. Adolfo was totally unrepentant about his behavior when interviewed by TV station KCCI in June, claiming his hate was God’s work.

He said: ‘It’s my honor. It is written. It is a judgment and it’s written to execute vengeance on the heathen and punishments on the people. ‘It’s my honor to do so.

It was an honor to do that. It’s a blessing from the Lord.’ Asked if he was specifically targeting people because of their homosexuality. Martinez added: ‘Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. ‘I burned down their pride, plain and simple…I’m guilty as charged.’ Prosecutor Jessica Reynolds said Martinez had been charged with a hate crime because he was motivated by others ‘sexual orientation.’

Pastor Gebbie hailed a jury’s decision to convict Martinez last month, telling the Des Moines Register: ‘I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here.

But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime, and it was crime borne of bigotry and hatred.’

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Anorexic cheerleader, 18, who would hide food in her socks and almost died when her weight fell to 63lbs reveals how yoga has helped her recover

A teenage cheerleader who nearly died from anorexia has revealed how she has turned her life around to become a yoga teacher.

Jennifer Pietsch, 18, from Hope, British Columbia, began to suffer from the eating disorder at the age of 12, when she began comparing herself to the rest of her cheerleading team and deemed herself 'fat'.

In a desperate attempt to lose weight, she began avoiding any and all foods that mentioned 'fat' in the nutrients guide, and then started flushing her meals down the toilet. She even got to the point of hiding uneaten food in her socks and clothing.  

Eventually, her weight plummeted to just 63lbs, causing her organs to begin to fail. 

She said: 'Because I was only 12, I developed anorexia before I even knew what anorexia was. I just became obsessed with the fact that I did not want to be fat. 

'Growing up I was constantly feeling pressure to be skinny and look a certain way, especially as I would compare myself to the other girls on my cheerleading team.

'From the age of 11 I noticed that weight loss was always praised. I thought being skinny was "good" and as a perfectionist I would settle for nothing less.

'I started by avoiding anything that included the word "fat" on the label, which moved on to me obsessing over calories and then trying to only eat my "safe" foods of fruits, vegetables, oats and plain chicken.

'Although I was attempting to recover, anything "unsafe" that my mother would cook for me I would hide in my clothing to later flush down the toilet.

'During my multiple stays in hospital, there were times I'd hide potatoes in my drawers as I thought the portions were too big compared to the day before.

'I would also hide peanut butter under plates in attempt to get rid of the easiest to hide highest source of calories.

After months of refusing food, and only eating as little as 800 calories a day, Jennifer's organs began to fail causing her to be admitted to hospital seven times for five month periods. 

'This lead to needing 24/7 supervision from a care aid even while I was sleeping, and having no bathroom access expect for a portable toilet behind a curtain.

'I was on strict bed rest even having to brush my teeth from bed.'

When her organs started failing, Jennifer knew it was time to start her recovery journey and to stop being defined by her eating disorder. 

She said: 'I wanted to avoid the illness side of the eating disorder and just be skinny - but that wasn't the case.

'From the age of 12 I had to be admitted to hospital seven different times on an average of five months at a time because my body couldn't keep up with my unhealthy coping.

'It didn't hit me what damage I was doing until my heart rate and blood pressure were dangerously low, my hair fell out and I was always extremely irritable, cold, anxious and faint.' 

She said: 'I knew it was time to recover when I no longer wanted to be a victim or statistic to the disorder - I started finding other things that made me myself and no longer did anorexia define who I was.

'Giving up my eating disorder originally meant loosing my safety, comfort, control and strongest coping mechanism for any feelings of worthlessness or anxiety.

'It meant letting go of perfectionism and the things that once made me feel accomplished and proud - I lost my self punishment and above all the predictability of all I was doing to myself and what would lie ahead if I continued to slowly fade away.

'I am now learning what it feels like to know my worth and that is something I look forward to feeling more of - I have wasted too much of my thinking space worried about food.

'I have much greater things to focus my energy on, I am more than capable of handling whatever comes my way, I am strong and this battle only makes a person stronger.

'What has motivated me to get better is to be able to show others that it is possible.

'To prove that you can come out better than ever from any of life's challenges.' 

Alongside having a change in her mindset, Jennifer also thanks yoga for allowing her to get back on track and is even training to become a professional instructor. 

She said: 'Yoga has helped me more than anything with anxiety, self acceptance, and allowing myself to rest.

'The studio is such a warm and welcoming environment and it allows for deep connection, self expression, and the ability to calm our mind.

'It is something that allows me to focus on what my body can do rather than what it looks like; it brings me clarity, joy, pride, and self acceptance both mentally and physically.

'I hope that as my training continues, I will build on my confidence even more as a professional to be able to teach others the practice of yoga not only physically, but spiritually.

'I want to help others form strong roots of self love, presence, and connection; while sharing my story of self discovery along the way.'

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A Confronting stream of texts reveal how a woman, 23, was bombarded with calls and messages after rejecting the advances of a man, 38, when she discovered he was married

A young woman was bombarded with ten calls and more than 40 text messages from a married man after she gave him her phone number after meeting in a bar.

Jessica*, 23, was out with friends in Sydney on June 19 when they decided to move on to the Wynyard Hotel in the CBD about 10pm.

As soon as she stepped inside the venue she felt she was being watched by someone in the bar.

She got herself a drink and settled into one of the tables against the wall when both she and her friend were approached by a pair of men.

'I could feel him watching me as soon as I walked in, and he came over and struck up a conversation almost immediately,' the 23-year-old told Daily Mail Australia.

The pair flirted and Jessica was instantly drawn to his charm and Irish accent, and wasn't deterred when he told her he was 38.

So when he asked for her phone number, she thought there was no harm in handing it over.

But once she had, he revealed he was married.

'There was no wedding ring and he approached me, so I didn't really have any reason to find him suspicious,' Jessica said.

'I thought it was funny he failed to mention that he had a wife waiting at home until after I handed over my phone number.' 

Jessica immediately thanked him for being nice, but told the 38-year-old she would rather not be involved with a married man and made her way home.

'He kept telling me I was beautiful and that he felt drawn to me, and while it was flattering there was no way I would ever be involved with someone being unfaithful,' she said.

While she thought she had gotten away from a sticky situation, the complications had only just began.

She awoke the following morning to ten missed phone calls and more than 40 messages from the man.

'You're incredibly sexy! Fair play for standing your ground. I would have enjoyed your company all night,' the first message read at 11.30pm.

The messages continued well into the morning, with some including links to popular songs such as Childish Gambino's 'This is America' and even a selfie.

In another message, the 38-year-old confessed he 'was not happy' in his marriage.

He continued to send messages until 2.23am, with one of them reading: 'Hey Jessica... I understand if you block me or decide never to text me back. I'm clearly mad as a box of badgers.'

'When I woke up the next morning to the barrage of text messages I instantly felt sick,' Jessica said.

The 38-year-old messaged again about 2.30pm apologising for his behaviour the night before but she chose to ignore.

But he remained persistent, messaging once again later that night and again on Friday.

Jessica became so fed up when he asked if she wasn't interested that she replied with a blunt: 'Still married?'

After an hour he then confessed that he wasn't only married, but had 'two little children'.

Jessica chose once again to ignore but the married father messaged all until 5am.

'Take it easy Jessica... I'll stop contact with you from now on,' he wrote.

The 23-year-old said the experience made her feel uncomfortable and would be more wary about giving her number out to men she meets in bars.

But for someone attempting to date in 2019, she struggles with the idea meeting people online as well.

Clinical Psychologist and Director of Madam Heap Carrie Hayward told Daily Mail Australia young people are becoming increasingly fed up with dating, especially in the age of social media.

'The more time we spend on screens, the less engaged we are in real-life experiences and social interactions that are imperative for psychological health,' she said.

'Many of us are at risk of unhealthy obsessive behaviour, compulsively checking our phone to seek that short dopamine reward, which prevents us from experiencing the fullness of our moments.'

'This is having significant consequences for our mental health.' 

While dating apps have made meeting potential partners more accessible, Founder of Dating With Dogs Tatum Brown said he does not believe people who meet online really connect.

'Meeting in person allows you connect in a meaningful way,' he said.

'It gives people an opportunity to explore others in a physical, emotional, dialectical and energetic way – something you could never achieve online.'

But for Jessica, she feels that she now has to be more careful about giving out her number.   

*Name has been changed as she wishes to remain anonymous.

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A Passengers say they will ‘never fly’ again after seeing woman’s 'disgusting’ move

TRAVELLERS on a recent flight were left disgusted after time spotted one woman’s unhygienic move, calling for her to be removed from the flight. Do you think this is a step too far?

The difference between a good flight experience and a bad one can often be at the mercy of your fellow passengers. Travellers on one flight soon realised this when they spotted the foul behaviour of one woman on board. One traveller was so taken aback they called for the guilty party to be removed from the flight. 

The scene was captured on camera by a passenger sitting a few rows behind the woman and then shared with Instagram account @PassengerShaming.

The main feature of the image is a woman who is resting her feet, which are adorned in blister plasters.

However, it is where her feet are placed that has caused the most concern.

While the passenger is reclined in her seat, she has her legs outstretched and is resting her feet directly on the TV screen.

At the time of writing the video has amassed 6,799 likes views and hundreds of commenters have chimed in to share their opinion on the moment.

One viewer was so disgusted they said the behaviour has driven them to “never fly” again.

Most of all, hygiene was brought into question, something that isn’t uncommon in the world of air travel.

“Exactly why I treat every single square inch of an airplane as if it were an Ebola outbreak,” wrote one user. (SIC)

Another said: “Apparently we need to bring Clorox wipes on every pane now and wipe everything down.”

Other commenters were concerned about whether there were wounds hidden beneath the plasters.

They called for “disinfectant” and a “hospital visit”.

However, one traveller had a suggestion. They said: “Hasn’t anyone heard of socks?”

The question of cleanliness on board planes is not a new one, with CBA News Marketplace unveiling that some of the dirtiest places on aircraft might not be where you initially think.

Experts carried out an investigation and swabbed 100 areas of 18 short-haul route planes belonging to three more Canadian airlines.

Their findings revealed that some of the grimiest places on board were the headrest, tray table and seat belt.

Microbiologist Keith Warriner, who studied the samples, was “amazed” at what was received.

The headrest was the worst place on the plane, with haemolytic bacteria and E.coli found on it, as well as having the highest aerobic count.

This was followed by the seat pocket, washroom handle, tray table and then the seatbelt which came in fifth place.

Warriner found that nearly half of the samples had enough bacteria to cause someone to get an infection.

With many people opting to wander around planes barefoot, its no surprise the woman featured in the Instagram image caused cleanliness concern.

Despite this, however, there were some who saw things from the passengers point of view.

One supporter said: “To be fair, judging by the plasters that passenger probably needed the relief of no shoes.”

Though they added: “No need to flaunt them like that.”

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Girl who gave birth aged just 12 was impregnated by her 14-year-old step-brother

The girl who gave birth to a baby aged just 12 was impregnated by her 14-year-old step-brother, it has been revealed. 

The young girl went into labour at a home in Perth, where the baby was delivered, before she was transferred to King Edward Memorial Hospital with her healthy child earlier this month. 

She told staff she had no idea she was pregnant when she arrived at the Peel Health Campus, and has since been discharged. 

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the safety of both children and their baby was important.

'It's a very delicate, sensitive situation but we're primarily concerned about making sure the right support mechanisms are in place,' he told the West Australian.

'While there is a police investigation, it's primarily centred on the welfare.'

The step-siblings could be charged for engaging in sexual activity as they are both under the legal consenting age of 16.

However, charges are unlikely to be laid against the parents of the baby.

The girl said she was unaware she was pregnant until she gave birth at home earlier in January, it is understood.

Government sources said the situation was 'complex and sad', and that family members were upset when they found out about the pregnancy.

Health and welfare agencies have been providing support for the family.

A Department of Communities spokesman said he could not comment on who will care for the baby, in order to protect the privacy of those involved.

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The dad fired 39 warning shots at the woman, hoping to scare her off

A Virginia father fired 39 rounds at a naked intruder claiming to be the devil after she broke into his family's home during their first night living there. 

The Lewis family, of Chesterfield, Virginia, were spending their first night at their new home when a woman broke into their basement at about 10.30pm on July 4.

The woman, said to have a blue ponytail, 'looked possessed, her eyes were completely black, like saucers, and she was laughing like it was a joke,' the dad told 8News

The dad of three, who has not been named, said that he asked the woman 'who are you?' and that she responded, 'I need your help, please help me.'

'I said "get out of my house," and she goes "I’m the devil,"' the dad added.  

The dad said that his family was sleeping upstairs and, fearing for his life, he picked up his pistol and issued a verbal warning to the woman. He then began shooting the gun in an effort to scare the woman out of his home. 

The dad said that the woman, who was not hit by any of the bullets, then ran at him. 

'She was not stopping,' he said, noting that 'She had the strength of four grown men.'

After the dad fired 39 shots and ran out of bullets, he said he threw furniture at the woman. By then, his wife and children had woken up and come down to help fend off the woman. 

Mom Melissa Lewis told 8News that 'That was her almighty, to kill us. She attacked us and I held her down just kept on punching her and punching her as hard as I possibly could.'

The woman didn't stop attacking the family until 12-year-old son Logan Lewis put a wrench into her neck.  

Footage from inside the Lewis' home shows blood-stained carpets, blood on the walls, a stairway covered with bullet holes and floors littered with the family's possessions.   

The woman, who has not been identified, was arrested and taken to the hospital where she is said to be in the ICU with severe head trauma. 

The Lewis family suffered bruises and bite marks during the incident.  

Detectives apparently told the Lewises that the woman lives near them and that she will be charged with robbery, breaking and entering and attempted murder.

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Engineer, 33, given two years to live when his belly swelled up 'like he was pregnant' due to a rare liver condition becomes a father after life-saving transplant

A man given two years to live when his belly swelled up 'like he was pregnant' has fathered twins after a life-saving liver transplant.

Danny Millward, of Warrington, Cheshire, suffers from Budd-Chiari syndrome, which causes the veins that drain his liver to become blocked.

The condition affects around one in 250,000 adults. It causes a build-up of blood in the liver, leading the organ to become swollen, tender to touch and painful.

He was diagnosed in 2011 and had a shunt inserted in his liver to help drain the fluid - but his condition slowly deteriorated. 

The engineer was told he needed an immediate liver transplant in 2015, or he would die within 24 months. 

When his body rejected a liver transplant in 2016, Mr Millward started to lose hope of surviving his thirties. 

But he went on to become a father a son and daughter - Charlie and Bella - in 2017 when a stranger donated their organ and his body accepted it. 

Speaking on his symptoms in 2015, Mr Millward said: 'I was feeling tired all the time and wasn't eating. I felt so lethargic. I'd only eat because other people made me eat. 

'I'd been feeling like that for a while but, being a bloke, I was stubborn and ignored it.'  

It was only when his boss insisted that he get checked out that the true extent of his illness was revealed.

He added: 'I originally went to hospital in Warrington but I was quickly transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

'After I arrived and had some tests done the doctor turned to me and said, "You're not going home".' 

Mr Millward was told that his liver was failing and that he needed an immediate transplant.

He said: 'I was in a coma-like state but I was awake. The doctors told me I was dying. They said I had two years to live if I did not have a liver transplant.'

In May 2016, he was put on the liver transplant list at Birmingham. 

Mr Millward got his hopes up when a suitable donor was found later that year.

But during surgery he suffered a potentially deadly allergic reaction to the new liver which forced the operation to be delayed.

After the failed transplant attempt, he spent the next eight months waiting to find out if he would receive the life-saving surgery.

He said: 'I was having fluid drained from my stomach every week. Every week my stomach would swell up and I'd look like I was pregnant.

'Things started to get emotional for me during those months after the first operation. Every time my friends and family looked at me they could see the pain in my face.

'I remember at one point I said to my mum that I'd rather die now than live with this pain any longer. The pain it was causing me and the pain it was putting on my family was awful.'  

Eight months after the first attempt, Mr Millward was told that another liver had been found for him.

He said: 'I got a phone call at 2.10am from the hospital saying they had found another liver for me.

'I remember feeling very nervous because of what had happened the first time.'

Luckily, the second surgery was successful and he left hospital on the road to recovery.

After the transplant, he wrote to the family of the donor to express his thanks saving his life.

He said: 'In my letter I said that a thank you will never be enough. I promised to live the rest of my life the best I can as a thank you to the person who saved me. 

'Before the transplant I had nothing. Now I've met someone and I'm a father to two-year-old twins. I'm also a stepfather to an eleven year old.'

Mr Millward is speaking out to raise awareness for organ donation week and he wants to use his story to show people how they could save a life.

He said: 'I thought that organ donation was just something you hear about and that it wouldn't affect me. I used to think that I would never need an organ transplant.

'I urge anyone to sign up to be an organ donor. It can save a life. It's a no brainer.'

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Burns survivor Turia Pitt reveals the deep fear she felt as bushfires raced towards her south coast home

Heavily pregnant Turia Pitt has shared her struggles amid Australia's catastrophic bushfire - nine years after she suffered horrific burns to 65 per cent of her body.

The country's crisis has brought back haunting memories for the mother after she was caught in a raging bushfire during an outback ultramarathon in September 2011.

She was just 24 years old at the time when she was trapped in the bushfire that nearly killed her after a blaze ripped through a gorge in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.

In a heartbreaking newsletter sent via email on Monday, Turia - who's currently eight months pregnant with her second child - said hearing people talk about protecting their homes from the deadly flames have struck a chord with her.

'When I found out friends were planning on defending their property I felt like shaking them. "You have no idea". I wanted to scream,' she said.

'You have no idea that a fire sounds like a thousand road trains coming towards you. You have no idea how hot it feels, and that you will watch your skin bubble before your very eyes.

'You have no idea that the smoke will feel like it's invading every single one of your pores. And you have no idea that in those last few seconds where it's almost upon you that you will know that you are about to die.

'At the same time, I've felt like it's not my place to flip out when people all around me have lost everything. I'm lucky - my family and I are safe and we haven't lost anything.'

Turia - who lives in Ulladulla with her fiancé Michael Hoskin and their two-year-old son Hakavai - said the country's unprecedented bushfire crisis has made her reflect on her own traumatic ordeal.

'It's been a tough few weeks for me emotionally. I've had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me,' she said.

'I've tried to not let the panic genie out of the bottle (because once that genie's out, you've got zero chance of squashing it back in). And I'm exhausted.

'I feel like I've done 10 marathons. And we can't relax because it's only the start of summer, and it's not over yet. So just like in a marathon, I've realised I have to pace myself.'

As she's just weeks from giving birth, Turia said she's been having 'recurring nightmares about running through flames with my son in my arms'.

'It's been difficult to sleep, eat or think and all I've really wanted to do is tap out, put my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is going on.'

The mother said her young family spent Christmas and New Years Eve in their hometown as they watched the sky turn 'red and black' over the days.

'More fires broke out... I watched, my mouth agape, as two angry plumes from the fires north and south of us joined together over Mollymook Beach,' she said.

'And then, the power went out. Mobile reception became spotty. Internet was down. Rumours swirled around town like the ashes that rained down on us. 

'Embers in our backyards. Homes had been lost. Whole streets obliterated. A girlfriend's panicked text about her dad being trapped.'

Instead of hearing music pumping and people celebrating along their street during the count down to midnight, Turia said their evening was 'quiet'.

'Not a peaceful and serene quiet, but an eerie quiet. An apocalyptic quiet. No one on their balconies drinking beers,' she recalled. 

'No music blaring from our neighbours next door, or from the houses across the street. No revellers preparing to celebrate the New Year. 

'And it was dark. No power. No lights.'

She called on her fans to donate to the businesses in fire affect communities.

'This is a way to put money directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most, and need it now,' Turia said.

'Long after the threat is over and the choppers stop flying overhead. Long after summer ends and the wail of sirens ceases in the streets. Help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them.

'Much love to all of you, donating, spending, and doing everything you can. I’m blown away.'

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