Strangers use tragedy to give girl the gift of hearing for Christmas

Published: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 @ 3:21 PM

Brianna Giddens can now hear thanks to the kindness of strangers.
WFTV.com
Brianna Giddens can now hear thanks to the kindness of strangers.(WFTV.com)

When a 5-year-old Seminole County girl died earlier this year after a life filled with health issues, her parents decided to entrust her brand-new hearing aids to her teacher, in the hope that they would find their way to a family who needed them.

The pink hearing aids ended up in the hands of 4-year-old Brianna Giddens.

WFTV introduced the Giddens during the last holiday season after learning about Brianna’s declining hearing and her parents’ struggle to afford hearing aids not covered by their insurance.

Brianna was born with cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which could, over time, result in complete deafness.

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Since last year, her hearing has deteriorated markedly, but her parents could not afford the $3,000 it would cost to get hearing aids for her.

Jennifer Autorino, who teaches Seminole County children younger than 3 who are deaf or hard of hearing, contacted the Giddens family after the 5-year-old Seminole County girl died.

Autorino described the girl who died as being full of sunshine.

“Just her aura was one of sweetness and love,” Autorino said. “I don’t think you could meet her without feeling how she contributed to the world.”

When the girl died, her parents, who had struggled to afford her brand new hearing aids, gave them to Autorino, who gave them to the Giddens.

“It broke our heart because somebody lost their child, but they passed something forward to help our child, and we’ll always be grateful for that,” Brianna’s father said.

The two families have never met, and the donors asked to keep their identity private.

While they may not know them, Brianna’s mother said they would never forget what the donors did for her daughter.

“Every time they put those in, it’s a reminder of the gift they’ve given us,” she said. “Absolutely.”

Texas boy battles brain infection doctors say was caused by flu

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:11 PM

5 Reasons to get a Flu Shot

Witten Ramirez is fighting for his life after doctors said he contracted a brain infection caused by the flu.

Witten’s mother, Desiree, said that the whole family had the flu last week, but the 8-year-old had it worse than the others, KXAS reported.

She said he was sleeping too much and stumbled when he walked.

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To be safe, Desiree took him to the emergency room, thinking that he might be having a reaction to medication. 

Instead, testing found that somehow the flu had caused an infection in his brain, which was attacking the part of the brain that controls movement.

Witten now cannot walk, sit, stand or talk, Desiree told KXAS.

Neurologists said the infection is called cerebellitis, an inflammatory process that can be a complication from the flu in rare cases with no risk factors.

“You can have otherwise seemingly healthy individuals whose bodies handle flu in such a way to lead to a neurologic complication, which is why we spend so much time focusing on prevention,” Dr. Benjamin Greenberg told KXAS.

Prevention, Greenberg said, is the flu vaccine.

Witten’s mother said her son didn’t get a flu shot this year as he had in previous years.

Children can recover from cerebellitis, but doing so will involve rehabilitation, which is already planned for Witten, KXAS reported

Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 1:33 AM

Universal Vaccine Could Work On Viruses, End Annual Flu Shots

An entire Oklahoma school district canceled classes Wednesday through Friday after schools reported excessive flu absences among much of the staff.

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Morris Public Schools said Monday's absences were at 20 percent, and Tuesday's were at more than 30 percent.

Basketball teams will continue competition in the county tournament.

Wrestlers will need to contact the coach about scheduled meets.

The district asks that ill students stay home when school resumes.

The Reason the Flu Shot Didn’t Work Half the Time During Last Year’s Flu Season

Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:01 PM

5 Winter Health Myths

You've probably heard winter health myths for years and you may have even accepted some of them as fact.

From being told to bundle up, so you don't catch a cold to your neighbor swearing he got the flu from his flu shot, these myths make the rounds every winter.

Breathe easy: 5 household plants that improve air quality

We separate fact from fiction with the following five winter health myths:

Cold weather can make you get sick.

Mom always warned you you'd get sick if you didn't bundle up before heading out in cold weather. Her advice wasn't exactly horrible, since you'll certainly be more comfortable and protected from frostbite. But cold by itself doesn't make you more likely to get sick, according to The Weather Channel. Most experts think we're more likely to get sick in colder months, but that's because we're all cooped up together, exchanging germs. Cold weather also dries out your nasal passages, reducing their ability to filter out infections. Despite evidence to the contrary, moms will probably keep warning their kids to bundle up. It's what they do.

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You lose 90 percent of your body heat through your head.

Of all your body parts, your head is more likely to be exposed in cold weather. But that doesn't mean the myth about losing 90 percent of your body heat through your head is true, according to Business Insider. Sure, wearing a hat in cold weather will help you stay warm, but that's just because you're covering an exposed body part, not because there's anything special about your head. You could cover up any other exposed body part and also feel warmer.

You don't need sunscreen in the winter.

If you think you only need sunscreen in hotter weather, you've probably packed your lotion away by the time winter comes around. But even when the weather's overcast in the winter, up to 80 percent of the sun's rays can still penetrate the clouds, according to Reader's digest.

UVA rays are always present - even in winter - and they can damage the deeper layers of your skin, increasing your risk for skin cancer and causing premature aging of your skin. And if you're planning a ski trip, you should be even more careful. UV radiation increases with elevation, and snow reflects and intensifies sunlight. So whatever the season, wearing sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF is the safest way to go.

Feed a cold, starve a fever.

The origin of this myth may be rooted in antiquated beliefs about colds and fevers, according to CNN. It was once believed that your body literally became colder if you had a cold, so it needed to be "warmed up" with food. Fever was thought to need "cooling down" by not eating.

In reality, you need to eat whether you have a cold or a fever. Good, nutritious foods are important, but it's OK if your illness suppresses your appetite a little. Staying hydrated is most important, especially if you have a fever. You may need to replenish electrolytes, so sports drinks can be a good choice. Good ol' chicken soup will keep you hydrated while also helping to clear your nasal passages.

RELATED: Your guide to an (almost) allergy-free home

The flu shot can give you the flu.

This isn't true, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC). Flu shots are made with either an inactive form of the virus or no flu virus at all. Neither type can give you the flu. You may have a sore arm after getting a flu shot and some people report having a low-grade fever and aches for a day or two, but it's not the flu.

On the other hand, you may still get the flu even if you've had a flu shot, but the odds of getting it are much lower and, if you do get the flu, the symptoms will likely be less severe.

13-year-old dies trying to save disabled dad from fire, father also killed

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

A firefighter extinguishes a blaze in an undated photo.
Pixabay
A firefighter extinguishes a blaze in an undated photo.(Pixabay)

A 13-year-old Oklahoma boy perished in a house fire Wednesday morning as he tried unsuccessfully to save his disabled father from the flames and smoke.

The boy and his father, James Cummins, 60, were in their rural Love County home when the fire broke out. According to the Daily Ardmoreite, space heaters may have started the blaze. 

Officials with the Oklahoma Fire Marshal’s Office told the newspaper that the family had electricity at the time of the fire, but their propane for the double-wide mobile home’s heating system had run out. The boy’s mother and a sibling had left to buy more, and the family was using three space heaters to heat the home while they were gone.

Love County deputies and firefighters responded to the fire, but were unable to get inside due to debris and the fire’s intensity, Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham told the Ardmoreite

“Family members stated the father was paralyzed, so the boy went to help him get out, and they both succumbed to smoke inhalation,” Grisham said

Fire investigators determined that the fire started in the living room, but the extent of the damage made it impossible to say for sure if the space heaters caused the blaze, or if the fire was electrical in nature. 

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Judah Shepard, an investigator with the Fire Marshal’s Office, said precautions should be taken any time a space heater is used.

“They need to be at least 3 feet from any combustible material and not operated while plugged into an extension cord,” Shepard said

About 25,000 house fires in the United States each year are attributed to space heaters, according to Consumer Reports. An average of 300 people die as a result of those fires. 

The majority of those fires are caused when the heaters are placed too close to curtains, bedding or upholstered furniture. 

Aside from keeping a heater at least 3 feet away from combustibles, the publication recommends always using a heater that carries a safety certification. Certified heaters have labels with the UL mark from Underwriters Laboratories, the ETL label from Intertek or certification from CSA International. 

A portable heater should also have shut-off features, such as a sensor to shut the heater off if it overheats and a switch to shut it off if it is tipped over. 

The heater should be placed on a hard, level surface and it should be kept away from children and pets. It should be turned off when the user leaves the room or goes to bed, and the home should have working smoke detectors.