Boy thrives one year after double hand transplant

Published: Thursday, August 25, 2016 @ 1:48 AM
Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2016 @ 1:48 AM


            Zion Harvey, center, who received a double hand transplant in July 2015, shakes hands with a health care worker as his mother Pattie Ray, left, smiles during a news conference Aug. 23, 2016 at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Philadelphia.
            Dake Kang
Zion Harvey, center, who received a double hand transplant in July 2015, shakes hands with a health care worker as his mother Pattie Ray, left, smiles during a news conference Aug. 23, 2016 at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Philadelphia.(Dake Kang)

A 9-year-old boy is thriving one year after becoming the world’s first double hand transplant recipient.

>> Click here to watch the news report

When Zion Harvey was just 2 years old, he lost both his hands and legs to a deadly infection.

In July 2015, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia successfully transplanted two new hands to Zion.

>> Child who had double hand transplant throws out MLB first pitch

After a year of grueling physical therapy, he’s now throwing baseballs, writing and playing Jenga.

“I’m very excited because now I can do more than I imagined, like throw a football, play baseball or, I don’t know, do a handstand,” Zion told NBC News. “So when I got my hands, it’s like, here’s the piece of my life that was missing. Now it’s here. Now my life is complete.”

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The recovery process is long, but Zion has regained sensation in his hands, and his brain is re-learning how to use them. He says he couldn’t be more happy with the results.

“Before you quit and say, ‘I give up,’ try everything first,” Zion said.

What it’s like decorating a Tournament of Roses Parade float

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 8:08 AM

Florist K. Mike Whittle helped create this rolling botanical wonderland.
Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.
Florist K. Mike Whittle helped create this rolling botanical wonderland.(Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.)

Sports fans watching the 2018 Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 will be eager to see if No. 3 Georgia can get past No. 2 Oklahoma when the teams meet at the College Football Playoff semifinal in Pasadena, Calif.

One local florist will be watching the preceding Tournament of Roses Parade with a trained and appreciative eye.

>> Read more trending news

“It was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done,” said K. Mike Whittle, who helped decorate a parade float years ago. “You learn so much.”

As operator of K. Mike Whittle Unique Floral Designs just off the Marietta Square, he doesn’t have a lot of free time at any point in the year. Certainly not during the holiday season. But with the University of Georgia heading to the Rose Bowl for just the second time ever, he let us tag along the other day while he set up for a party at the the Hilton Atlanta Marietta Hotel & Conference Center so we could press him for intel.

The main takeway: you just cannot believe how many flowers go into all those floats.

(Photo: Jennifer Brett)

“We used 35,000 roses,” he said, his voice still full of awe at the memory. “I was a kid in a candy store with all those flowers. They didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat but they turned me loose.”

A Marietta native who got his start as an entrepreneurial kid who would dig cattails from a ditch and sell them to an area flower shop, Whittle was working in Carrollton when he got the call to go west.

“It really steamed up my career,” he said. He didn’t love getting up on scaffolding to attend to the top of the float, but otherwise enjoyed learning floral problem-solving skills on that big a stage. “We worked 29 hours straight. It just showed me yeah, it can be done.”

The annual parade, older than the football contest, dates back to Jan. 1, 1890. That first year, horse-drawn buggies festooned with blooms were meant to echo a festival of roses in Nice, France. Two years later, winter weather threatened the supply of roses and nearly turned the event into the “Orange Tournament,” but the fledgling tradition held.

Automobiles showed up in 1901 and were shoved to the back of the parade, so they wouldn’t spook the horses. The following year saw the first merger of flora and football, when the University of Michigan rolled over Stanford University, 49-0. One year, 1913, organizers thought a camel vs. elephant road race would be fun. The elephant won, and the species’ record remains unbroken as there have been no similar matchups since.

Famed zookeeper Jack Hanna rode on the float Whittle worked on in 2002, accompanied by giant botanical tigers, monkeys and exotic birds. If your Rose Bowl party plans call for slightly less elaborate floral decor, Whittle likes roses (of course) as well as red ginger and anthurium.

“Carnations are not bad, either. It’s a sturdy football kind of rose,” said Whittle, who has created displays incorporating football helmets.

Proper hydration is key – he’ll give newly arrived blooms a couple of days to drink up before placing them in arrangements – and he uses a sharp knife, not scissors, to ensure a clean, angled cut.

Then again, he mused, there’s one major flub people make when setting out to arrange flowers.

“That is the mistake,” he said with a twinkle, “doing it yourself.”

The float Mike Whittle helped create in 2002 was an award-winning beauty.(Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.)

Three sisters, three Ivy League colleges

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 7:39 AM

FILE PHOTO: Harvard University students walk through the campus.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Harvard University students walk through the campus.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Community college probably won’t cut the mustard when two sisters get accepted into the Ivy Leagues.

Xaviera Rowan found out this week where she was going to school and it was met with cheers from her fellow classmates from Democracy Prep Harlem High School, WNBC reported.

Xaviera’s oldest sister, Chris, was accepted to Dartmouth College two years ago. Last year it was Ella and Yale. 

>> Read more trending news

This year, Xaviera found out she is going to be a freshman at Harvard University, WNBC reported.

The family’s story is a true American Dream tale.

They immigrated from Cameroon and didn’t speak much English when they arrived in the United States, except for phrases they picked up watching television.

“We started learning English, going to the library, reading books and using dictionaries,” Xaviera told WNBC.

“We essentially had to learn English within a period of six months before standardized exams,” Chris said.

The girls said their parents made education a priority at all times and credit the school Democracy Prep for their success, WNBC reported.

What time do stores open and close on Christmas Eve 2017?

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 10:24 PM

Stores Open on Christmas Day

If you’re banking on some last minute Christmas shopping, you’re not alone. 

>> Read more trending news 

According to a 2016 survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers, 76 percent of adult shoppers said they planned on making holiday purchases right up until Christmas.

And with Christmas Eve on a Sunday this year, shoppers will have an extra weekend day to hit the stores.

>> Related: Ultimate Guide to the Holidays

For all you last-minute shoppers, here’s a breakdown of store hours for Christmas Eve on Dec. 24, 2017:

Department store hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Belk: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dillard’s: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

JCPenney: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Kmart: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or midnight, depending on the location.

Kohl’s: Noon to 6 p.m.

Macy’s: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Neiman Marcus: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nordstrom: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Target: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sears: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Walmart: Regular opening time (varies by location). All stores close at 6 p.m.

Von Maur: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

» RELATED: 2017 Christmas shipping deadlines for Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, UPS and more

Speciality retail store hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Apple Store: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Babies R Us: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Banana Republic: Opening hours vary. All stores close at 6 p.m.

Barnes & Noble: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bed, Bath & Beyond: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Best Buy: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

BJ’s Wholesale: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Costco: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dollar Tree: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

GameStop: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Gap: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hobby Lobby: Closed on Sundays

Ikea: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lowe’s: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Office Depot & OfficeMax: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Old Navy: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Patagonia: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

REI: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sam’s Club: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stein Mart: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Toys R Us: 12 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on the location.

Grocery store hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Kroger: Hours vary by location. Some will be open until 8 p.m. or close earlier, around 5-6 p.m. Call your nearest store to confirm.

Publix: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Whole Foods: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Trader Joe’s: Opening hours vary by location (8 a.m. or 9 a.m.) All stores close at 6 p.m.

Sprouts: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pharmacy hours for Christmas Eve 2017

Walgreens: Most Walgreens pharmacies will have regular hours on Christmas Eve. Call yours to confirm.

CVS: Most CVS pharmacies are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Call yours to confirm.

Rite Aid: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Hammering out the details, GOP tries to corral final votes for tax reform

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 4:04 AM

Republicans in Congress on Thursday moved to put the finishing touches on a sweeping reform of the federal tax code, though the effort was endangered as a pair of GOP Senators signaled their opposition to a final child tax credit deal, while the health problems of two other GOP Senators also clouded plans for a final vote next week.

“There is no done deal yet from my perspective,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) about the final tax reform bill. “It is not over.”

GOP aides had made clear to reporters on Wednesday that a tentative deal had been reached – even before the first official meeting of House-Senate negotiators – but it was obvious on Thursday afternoon that the entire tax plan was not yet set in legislative stone.

One of the bigger hot spots was with the details of the child tax credit, as Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed irritation with the terms of the final agreement, as they said it didn’t go far enough to help lower income families. Rubio threatened to vote against the bill.

One tax negotiator saw little chance that Rubio would win any further change in the bill, arguing the Senate had prevailed over the House on that point in the negotiations.

“It was a hard fought victory for us,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “We won everything on that child tax credit.”

Meanwhile, the White House expressed satisfaction with the terms of that deal as well.

“Look, we’re really proud of the work that we’ve done already up until this point, with Senator Rubio, already doubling the child tax credit, taking it to $2,000 per child,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Senator Rubio will be there,” the President told reporters. “We’re doing very well on the tax front.”

In both the House and Senate, GOP vote counters were trying to make sure that enough Republicans would be on board in votes next week.

“I’m waiting to look at the whole bill,” said Rep. John Faso (R-NY), one of a number of Republicans from New York, New Jersey and California who were not pleased with the impact on taxpayers who itemize deductions.

One of the hurdles was the financial juggling act going on inside the GOP bill, as Republicans were arranging time limits on certain tax changes, which would make the overall plan seem less expensive.

“We’re literally trying to squeeze about $2 trillion in tax reform into a $1.5 trillion box and that’s been a problem,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Meanwhile, the health issues of two Senators were also raising concerns among Republicans, as Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) missed every vote in the Senate this week.

With the GOP advantage only 52-48, the absence of just one of those two ailing Senators could cause problems for Republicans on tax reform, especially if more than one Republican decides to vote against the final deal.