Inspiration


A Michigan baby heads home after nearly 700 days in hospital

A Michigan baby is now home with her family after a hospital stay that lasted 694 days.

Valentina Garnetti was diagnosed in utero with hypoplastic left heart syndrome -- a condition that affects normal blood flow through the heart and causes the left side of the heart to not form correctly. The 1-year-old remained in University of Michigan's CS Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor since the day she was born.

"She's the happiest baby in the whole entire world, despite everything's she's been through," mom Francesca Garnetti told "Good Morning America." "She's the greatest joy. She loves everyone ... she just loves her life, genuinely."

Valentina was born at Mott Children's Hospital and stayed in its pediatric cardiothoracic intensive care unit.

Valentina has had six surgeries, including four open-heart surgeries and was once placed on life support for 14 days. Her first open-heart surgery came when she was 2 days old, and her most recent was in October.

"It's terrifying, I don't think you can prepare yourself for something like that," Garnetti said.

During her stay, Valentina became close with her six primary nurses: Erin, Wendy, Denise, Amanda, Stephanie and Liana. Garnetti even named Liana as Valentina's godmother.

"I've relied on my faith a lot and she helped me through it," Garnetti said of Liana. "On a personal level, if anything were to happen to me, she loves Valentina. She knows how to care for her and she would, without a doubt."

Dr. Mary Olive is a pediatric cardiologist at Mott Children’s Hospital who worked with Valentina.

"Valentina had a long and difficult journey here at Mott, but she continued to surprise us with her strength and resilience," Olive told "GMA." "It was inspiring to see our whole congenital heart center team come together to determine how to best care for her."

"Her mom was also very strong and dedicated to doing whatever it took to help her get home," Olive added. "We were just so happy to see Valentina get to go home and spend time with her siblings and family."

On March 24, the hospital had a celebratory sendoff for Valentina.

Valentina is now home with her sisters, Gianna, 5, and Adriana, 1. Garnetti said Valentina is happy to finally be playing with other children.

Garnetti is now connecting with parents of kids who have heart conditions through the Facebook page, Valentina's Journey.

goodmorningamerica.com

Canary Islands hotel offers shelter to migrants in need in Spain

When hotel director Calvin Lucock and restaurant owner Unn Tove Saetran said goodbye to one of the last groups of migrants staying in one of the seaside resorts they manage in Spain’s Canary Islands, the British-Norwegian couple didn’t know when they would have guests again.

They had initially lost their tourism clientele to the coronavirus pandemic, but then things had taken an unexpected turn.

A humanitarian crisis was unfolding on the archipelago where tens of thousands of African men, women and children were arriving on rudimentary boats. The Spanish government — struggling to accommodate 23,000 people who disembarked on the islands in 2020 — contracted hundreds of hotel rooms left empty due to the coronavirus travel restrictions.

The deal not only helped migrants and asylum-seekers have a place to sleep, it also allowed Lucock to keep most of his hotel staff employed.

But the contract ended in February and thousands of people were transferred out of the hotels and into newly built large-scale migrant camps. Or so they thought.

“We realized that we had a queue of people standing outside when we closed the doors,” said Saetran, a former teacher, in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the Holiday Club Puerto Calma in southern Gran Canaria.

Some of the “boys,” as she calls them, had ended up on the streets after being expelled from government-funded reception centers. Others had chosen to leave the official system fearing overcrowded camps and forced returns to the countries they fled from. With the rooms still empty, Saetran said she couldn’t sleep knowing the migrants would be left on the street.

So they reopened the hotel doors again, this time at their own expense.

“They were very scared, they didn’t have anywhere to go, and there wasn’t any other solution,” said Saetran who has lived in the Canary Islands with Lucock since the ’90s and has a Spanish-born daughter.

Today, the family, with the help of some of the hotel staff and other volunteers, provide food through Saetran’s restaurant, shelter through the hotel and care to 58 young men, including eight unaccompanied minors, mainly from Morocco and Senegal as well as other West African countries, who fell out of the official migrant reception and integration system for one reason or another.

One of them is Fode Top, a 28-year-old Senegalese fisherman who left his country in search of better work in Europe last November. The fish in Senegal, he says, have disappeared from the ocean following years of industrial fishing by Chinese and European vessels. Nowadays one can hardly make a living being a fisherman.

To make matters worse, Top’s 3-year-old son needed life-saving and expensive heart surgery. To pay medical bills, Top borrowed money he wasn’t able to pay back, resulting in threats.

“If I return to Senegal I will have problems. Many problems,” Top said.

The official camps have also been plagued with problems, with reports of overcrowding, insufficient food, unsanitary conditions and lack of legal and medical assistance. Most recently, police intervened with rubber bullets in the largest camp on the island of Tenerife after a fight broke out between two groups of residents.

The Canary Islands and their year-round sunny beaches normally attract millions of northern European tourists each year. But for the migrants at Puerto Calma, staying in the hotel is no vacation. The islands were just meant to be a stepping stone toward stability, security and employment in continental Europe, not their final destination. Today, it is a place of limbo for thousands who were denied access to the Spanish peninsula and live in waiting, unable to work and send money back to their families.

“They’ve come here looking for a better life, one of the reasons I came to Spain,” said 47-year-old Lucock. There’s only one difference: “They are not born with a European passport so they can’t travel in the same way I can.”

On a recent evening, as they ate dinner, Saetran got a text message: Six young men, including alleged minors, had been sleeping in the streets of Las Palmas for days. She looked at her husband, who runs the hotel, for approval. He rolled his eyes and took a deep breath.

The next day, the six boys arrived at the hotel carrying their belongings in plastic bags. Saetran and Lucock welcomed them and gave them two rooms. Both of them know the hotel won’t be able to shelter migrants forever, but for now they have a place to sleep.

“If we can play a small part in making them feel safe and secure while they are here, then I feel like we’ve achieved something,” Lucock said.

As the men wait month after month to either move north or be returned south, Lucock and Saetran try to keep them busy. Volunteers come three times a week to give English and Spanish classes. The athletic ones play soccer on the beach or run up the mountain with locals. There’s also a lot of checkers and card games.

The couple says they hope to continue helping young migrants even after tourism kicks off again, and are setting up a charity.

“In our culture we have so much that we forget to appreciate the small things,” Saetran said.

apnews.com

Arkansas police officers rescue suspect after car chase ends in crash

Tontitown Police Department confirmed that two officers attempted to stop a stolen vehicle in the area of Liberty and Brush Creek Road late Saturday night and were led on a chase that ended when the suspect vehicle crashed.

Police said the suspect inside the vehicle was reportedly armed.

The vehicle fled from officers resulting in a chase that ended when the driver missed a turn and hit a tree head-on.

The car caught fire and officers tried to order the driver to step out of the vehicle but they did not receive a response.

Officers said they heard screaming inside the car and when they approached they found a female driver who was pinned inside and fire spreading into the cab.

Officers were able to climb in through the passenger window of the vehicle and free the driver.

The suspect was taken to the hospital where she was treated for burns and other injuries.

Police have not yet released the suspects name or charges.

nwahomepage.com

Argentine penguins waddle back to sea after rehab on dry land

Twelve black-and-white Magellanic penguins have been returned to the chilly seas off the Atlantic coast of Argentina after they were rescued suffering from issues including malnutrition and anemia and nursed back to health.

reuters.com

Kati Kariko Helped Shield the World From the Coronavirus

Collaborating with devoted colleagues, Dr. Kariko laid the groundwork for the mRNA vaccines turning the tide of the pandemic.

nytimes.com

This Bird Lives Because She Never Quit

Jan Hamber defied the norms of her time, helped save the California Condor, and at age 90 is still blazing a trail for other women scientists.

audubon.org

New Brain Cancer Immunotherapy Shows Promise in Human Trial Most Patients Saw No Tumor Growth For 3 Years

A landmark human trial testing a vaccine that’s designed to help the immune system target brain tumors has shown promising results—and Phase 2 of the trial is now being planned.

According to a Nature article published by the researchers leading the trial, the vaccine was safe for all patients, and showed the hoped-for immune response to cancerous tissue.

Diffuse gliomas are usually incurable brain tumors that spread in the brain and are difficult to remove completely by surgery. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy often only have a limited effect too.

In many cases, diffuse gliomas share a common feature: in more than 70 percent of patients, the tumor cells have the same gene mutation. An identical error in the DNA causes a single, specific protein building block to be exchanged in the IDH1 enzyme. This creates a novel protein structure, known as a neo-epitope, which can be recognized as foreign by the patient’s immune system.

“Our idea was to support patients’ immune system and to use a vaccine as a targeted way of alerting it to the tumor-specific neo-epitope,” explained study director Michael Platten, Medical Director of the Department of Neurology of University Medicine Mannheim and Head of Division at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

The IDH1 mutation is a particularly suitable candidate here, as it is highly specific to the gliomas and does not occur in healthy tissue. Moreover, the IDH1 mutation is responsible for the development of these gliomas: “That means that a vaccine against the mutated protein allows us to tackle the problem at the root,” Platten added.

goodnewsnetwork.org

Nepals Endangered Rhino Population Has Grown By 16%

In positive news, Nepal’s population of endangered one-horned rhinoceros has shown a promising 16% increase over the past six years.

According to the National Rhino Count 2021, the current population of the species stands at 752 individuals compared to the 2015 estimate of 645. The National Rhino Count 2021 took place from March 22 to April 10, and covered rhino range areas within the country—including four national parks such as Chitwan.

The count was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, mobilizing over 57 elephants and 350 technicians and trained personnel who did sweeps across jungle areas to document numbers based on a headcount.

Populations estimates are based on individual rhino information collected—categorized based on statistics such as sex, age group, and unique identifying features. During the process data on habitat conditions, invasive species in the area, and human activities in the region are also collected.

“The overall growth in population size is indicative of ongoing protection and habitat management efforts by protected area authorities despite challenging contexts these past years,” said Ghana Gurung, Country Representative of WWF Nepal in a statement from the NGO.

“This achievement is yet another milestone in Nepal’s conservation journey showcasing the impact of concerted efforts of all stakeholders and providing much needed impetus to the global conservation fraternity.”

goodnewsnetwork.org