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Crystal Kaye(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Crystal Kaye's work designing dolls to represent women with skin-pigment loss is drawing grateful responses from women across the country who are thrilled to have a doll that looks like them.

“I get messages from women saying that they’re in tears. Women in their 40s and 50s, crying because they’re so grateful to have something that mirrors them,” said Kaye of Kansas City, Missouri.

It all began about nine months ago when Kaye took a porcelain doll that her daughter was about to throw away.

Kaye, who already had an online store she calls Kays Customz for selling her handmade jewelry, stripped the doll down to make it her next canvas.

She started by designing a doll representing black women with albinism. Then she moved on to painting women with vitiligo.

Albinism is a condition in which people are born with little to no melanin. Vitiligo characteristically causes milky-white patches across the skin from a loss of melanin. Vitiligo affects an estimated 65 to 95 million people worldwide, although because of underreporting the actual number may be even higher, according to the Vitiligo Research Foundation.

Photos of Kaye's first dolls got thousands of likes and shares on Facebook, but the response to images of her creations with vitiligo was overwhelming, she said.

She has now had orders for over 150 of the dolls.

“It started as a hobby and spun into this,” she said.

Kaye designed a doll with a skin patch on her face in the shape of the African continent, an example of her positive portrayal of the skin condition.

Some women with vitiligo have asked Kaye for custom dolls that look like them.

Finally, a face like her own


“I always wanted a doll that looked like me,” said Que Chunn, a 38-year-old mother and nurse from Nashville who was one the first to order a custom doll from Kaye.

Chunn said she was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 14. Because of what the condition did to her appearance, she said she was bullied and called names.

She learned of Kaye's work after family and friends saw the dolls on social media and tagged Chunn in the posts.

Kaye used a photo of Chunn to design a doll for her, then shipped it off.

The doll was sent to Chunn’s home in Nashville instead of the P.O. box she uses when traveling to different areas of the U.S. to serve as a nurse.

But Chunn couldn't wait.

She drove to Nashville and raced to her mailbox. “I couldn’t do anything but cry. It was beautiful. Every expectation and beyond,” Chunn said of the moment she unwrapped the doll to see a face like her own.

She keeps her doll in a glass case in her bedroom in Atlanta, where she is currently positioned as a travel nurse.

“It’s a good thing that she’s doing for this community,” Chunn says of Kaye's work for women with vitiligo, “We are never recognized.”

People with vitiligo now 'have a voice'

Tiffanie Wiley, 29, was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 7 and the condition was only on her fingertips.

After it spread to other parts of her body, she started to get bullied at school.

Wiley said began wearing makeup when she was only 10 “as a favor to others.” But after her high school graduation, she said she started to embrace self-love.

She has since become a motivational speaker aiming to reduce bullying and increase tolerance through what she calls her #IAmGreat movement.

Stumbling upon Kaye’s doll art on Facebook, Wiley reached out for a custom order of a doll sporting an “I am great” slogan.

Kaye had the order done in a day.

“It was the first time I saw something that looked like Tiffanie,” Wiley says, referring to herself. She said the intricate details of the doll amaze her, the spots around her nose, the markings on her ears. “The things that most people don’t notice,” she said.

She now takes the doll on her motivational speaking engagements around her home in the Louisville, Kentucky, area.

The doll "gives you confidence ... because you see it and it’s beautiful,” says Wiley. “I am proud to have vitiligo.”

Tiffanie Wiley echoed the same sentiment saying, “I hope people understand that Kaye has opened a window for people with vitiligo to have a voice.”

Now many different people are ordering the dolls

Kaye says that she is now getting many different kinds of requests, including for dolls for burn victims from around the world.

“I want to do everybody. I want to do a doll with psoriasis, with eczema, anything that people haven’t seen before on a doll,” says Kaye, “I really want people, no matter what they look like or are going through, to know they are great and beautiful."

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iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- As California finds itself in the grips of the largest person-to-person hepatitis A outbreak in more than two decades, health officials are taking emergency measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in light of the outbreak that has killed at least 18 people, hospitalized 386 and infected at least 578 in the state as of this past weekend, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

"This outbreak is different than any other we have seen in the United States in the past decade," said Dr. Matt Zahn, medical director of epidemiology at the Orange County Health Care Agency. "Previously, we have seen outbreaks that are food-borne, with a direct exposure to that food source. Ongoing person-to person spread is really not something we have seen in recent years."

Also unique about this outbreak is that the homeless population and illicit drug users are the hardest hit.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease, and the Governor’s state of emergency proclamation has given the CDPH the authority to directly purchase vaccines from manufacturers in order to quickly distribute them to the community.

“The key is to bring the vaccination directly to the communities at risk,” Zahn said. “This population is not easy to reach, so we make interventions to bring it to them. San Diego has done a marvelous job to have their staff go out to the homeless community, individual by individual, and offer the vaccine then and there.”

The outbreaks are affecting multiple counties in California, with the San Diego Jurisdiction bearing 490 infected cases. Since early spring, more than 80,000 vaccine doses have been distributed to the public and some municipalities have purchased their own supplies. San Diego County said it has administered more than 68,500 vaccines since the outbreak began.

Sanitation and hygiene are other important aspects of controlling the spread of hepatitis A, which is spread through fecal matter. Since the outbreak began in the spring, more than 100 hand washing stations have been have been installed in the area, most of which are in the city of San Diego. The city is also power-washing areas affected public areas with bleach solutions and making public bathrooms more available in areas most frequented by the homeless.

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about this disease.

How is Hepatitis A spread?

Since this virus spreads through the feces, outbreaks are most commonly seen in the presence of unsanitary conditions or behaviors. Food workers can spread the virus if they do not properly wash their hands after using the bathroom and caregivers can transmit the virus after changing the diaper of an infected baby.

Hepatitis A can spread by simply touching objects, or through contaminated food or drinks. People may also be infected by eating uncooked food that has been contaminated, sexual contact with an infected person and travel to a country where Hepatitis A is common. The virus can be spread to others before any symptoms are apparent.

What are symptoms of Hepatitis A?

The hepatitis A virus causes inflammation of the liver. Symptoms of infection include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Yellowing of the skin and eyes, also know has jaundice, is also a possible symptom of this virus.

Hepatitis A is an acute infection, with symptoms persisting for up to two months; rare cases may last longer. The virus does not typically lead to chronic infection or death, but it can prove fatal to those with compromised livers or immune systems.

How to protect against the virus

The best way to prevent getting Hepatitis A is through vaccination, given in a two-dose series, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The vaccine is especially recommended for those at particularly increased risk, such as people with chronic liver disease, blood clotting disorders, men who have sex with men, those traveling to areas known to have the virus, such as parts of Africa and Asia, and those who could be in direct contact with people infected with hepatitis A, like health care workers.

The virus can live for months outside of the body on objects and surfaces, according to the CDC, and it can be difficult to kill.

“Hepatitis A is a hardy virus, and can certainly stay on surfaces and in the environment [for a long time],” Zahn said. Importantly, most waterless hand sanitizers and some household cleaners are not effective in destroying the virus. So when it comes to preventing spread, washing hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water is the best bet. Using bleach-based cleaning products is the most effective to clean surfaces in a way that eliminates the hepatitis A virus.

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Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The sound of two bells rang through the loud speakers of the U.S. Navy’s floating hospital on Saturday to celebrate the arrival of a newborn baby girl.

The Navy’s USNS Comfort was sailing in the vicinity of San Juan, Puerto Rico -- providing medical assistance throughout a region devastated by Hurricane Maria -- when baby Sara Victoria Llull Rodriguiz made her arrival on board.

“I never thought that our special moment would happen here on this ship,” Sara’s father, Francisco Llull Vera, said in a statement Sunday. “Everyone has been so helpful and gentle while caring for our baby. I hope this opens the door for those who still need help to seek out the Comfort.”

Vera said Sara’s 6-year-old brother Alonzo and 4-year-old sister Sofia, currently staying with family ashore in Puerto Rico, are anxiously waiting to meet her.

“They are so excited to meet her,” Sara’s mother, Tania Rodriguiz Ramos said in a statement Sunday. “It’s a huge blessing for Sara to be here. I owe everything to the doctors and nurses and everyone onboard.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello went to visit baby Sara on Sunday. He shared pictures of him cradlling the baby in his arms, with her doctor and parents standing nearby. Rossello said Sara was “the first Puerto Rican girl born” on the USNS Comfort.

The USNS Comfort, which currently has 21 people on board, has treated more than 100 patients since Maria made landfall last month, killing at least 48 people and knocking out power for most of the island.

Nearly 4 weeks after the storm hit, about 85 percent of power customers are still without electricity and about 31 of customers lack access to potable water, officials said Sunday. The death toll was raised by three over the weekend and about 111 people missing due to the storm.

Comfort Capt. Kevin Robinson said Sara, who weighed in at 6 pounds and 8 ounces, brought a sense of joy to the crew.

“I think the birth of that little girl has reinvigorated the crew,” Robinson said in a statement.

The last birth aboard Comfort occurred on Jan. 21, 2010, while the ship was providing humanitarian relief in support of Operation Unified Response following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused severe damage in Haiti, according to the Navy.

The ship’s crew commemorated the occasion by ceremoniously renaming one of its two small boat tenders the “Sara Victoria.”

“We wanted to do something special, the crew has taken to the baby as one of our own,” Comfort Ship’s Master Roger Gwinn Gwinn said in a statement. “As she goes forward in life, we hope she carries Comfort with her.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. may be suffering from an opioid epidemic, but worldwide nearly 26 million people are dying in pain because they can’t access affordable palliative care.

According to a new report in The Lancet, the solution could be an off-patent three cent morphine tablet – wildly available in the United States, but often difficult to come by and much more expensive overseas.

“The pain gap is a massive global health emergency which has been ignored, except in rich countries,” says Dr. Felicia Knaul, chair of The Lancet Commission and Professor at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.

Of the hundreds of tons of opioid painkillers distributed worldwide, only about 4 percent of the painkillers go to low and middle-income countries.

According to Knaul, fixing the problem is straightforward, but requires governments and drug companies to work together to help the most vulnerable.

“We have the right tools and knowledge and the cost of the solution is minimal. Denying this intervention is a moral failing, especially for children and patients at the end of life,” Knaul says.

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iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Shocking videos showing high school cheerleaders in Colorado being forced into splits sparked outrage this summer, and now officials say no criminal charges will be filed.

The Denver District Attorney's Office announced the decision in a statement on Saturday following a weeks-long investigation by the Denver Police Department, which included dozens of interviews of cheerleaders from East High School, parents, school officials, and more.

One cheerleader was injured in connection with the cheerleading practice, according to the district attorney's office.

"The video of the incident involving the injured student that has been widely disseminated is painful to watch," Denver District Attorney Beth McCain said in a statement. "However, after a very thorough and careful review of all of the evidence gathered in the investigation and the statements of many members of the cheerleading squad, I have concluded that the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges."

The videos show girls being forcibly pushed into splits, with one cheerleader crying in pain and telling the coach to stop.

The former coach, Ozell Williams, was fired after the videos went viral.  Denver Public School Disctrict officials announced the retirement of the high schools principal, Andy Mendelsberg, and the resignation of assistant principal Lisa Porter a month ago, according to ABC affiliate KMGH-TV.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- California has declared a state of emergency over a hepatitis A outbreak that health officials say is the largest person-to-person outbreak in the U.S. since a vaccine became available over 20 years ago.

At least 18 people have died in the outbreak that has affected San Diego, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and more, according to the California Department of Public Health.  Gov. Jerry Brown issued the declaration on Friday "to increase its supply of hepatitis A vaccines in order to control the current outbreak," he said in a statement.

Vaccines have already been distributed to at-risk populations in affected areas, according to the governor, but he said "additional supplies are needed."

"Today’s proclamation gives the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) authority to immediately purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers and distribute them to impacted communities," Brown said in the statement on Friday.

San Diego has had the most cases of hepatitis A (490 cases out of at least 576 reported cases), according to the CDPH.

The CDPH said on its website that most of the people infected in the outbreak are homeless, use illicit drugs (injected or non-injected), or both. 

The Hepatitis A virus is spread when the virus is ingested from contact with hands, objects, food, or drinks that have been contaminated by the feces of an infected person, according to the CDPH.  Symptoms of those infected include fever, feeling ill, yellowness of the skin, lack of appetite, and nausea, the CDPH said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Obesity among children and teenagers has risen ten-fold across the world in the past four decades, according to a new study in The Lancet.

This means more than 120 million youngsters are not at a healthy weight. The study, which is the largest of its kind, studied obesity trends in more than 200 countries from 1975 to 2016.

The largest jump in obesity levels was seen in Asia, with rates in China and India growing in recent years.

“The rising trends in children’s and adolescents’ BMI (body mass index) have plateaued in many high-income countries, albeit at high levels, but have accelerated in parts of Asia," the study reads.

Polynesia and Micronesia have the highest rate of all; approximately half of the younger population is overweight or obese.

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Kelly Murphy(CAMDEN, N.J.) -- Toni Murphy was just 36 when she died in 2001, leaving behind five children, including 2-year-old quadruplet daughters.

Now, Toni Murphy’s quadruplet daughters, Erin, Kelly, Rachel and Casey Murphy, are 18-year-old college freshman fulfilling their mom’s legacy.

Three of the sisters are studying nursing at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. Erin Murphy is studying veterinary medicine at Oklahoma State University.

Toni Murphy worked as a nurse for more than a decade before she died of complications from an infection.

“I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps,” Casey Murphy told ABC News. “My dad tells us stories a lot and [it was] just something that I wanted to do.”

The sisters’ father, Michael Murphy, raised the four girls and their older sister, Lyn, 31, on his own after his wife died.

“I’ve got pictures of her up around the house and would always say, ‘Your mother used to do this,’” he said of keeping Toni Murphy’s memory alive. “I kept those stories going to make sure that they knew that she was part of their lives even though they don’t remember too much of it.”

Toni Murphy worked in obstetrics and was also an elementary school nurse and a prison nurse, according to her family.

“Ever since I knew about nurses, I always just wanted to be one,” said Rachel Murphy. “Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to help people.”

Toni Murphy’s daughters each have their own dreams of what they want to do in the medical field. Kelly Murphy is considering becoming a doctor, Casey Murphy wants to work in pediatrics and find a cure for cancer, Rachel Murphy wants to be a flight trauma nurse and Erin Murphy wants to become a veterinarian.

Their older sister, Lyn Murphy, also works in the medical field as an X-ray technician in New Jersey.

"I wanted to follow in the footsteps of both of them," Kelly Murphy said of her mom and older sister. "I just had this passion for helping people and I’m really interested in the human body and how it works."

Michael Murphy said he watched his daughters fall in love with the medical field after shadowing nurses and doctors while in high school.

“It’s nice that they’ve embraced the fact that [their mom] was a nurse and wanted to honor her in that way,” Michael Murphy said. “I never forced them … they fell in love with it.”

Rachel, Casey and Kelly Murphy commute to Rutgers from their family's home in Swedesboro, New Jersey. The three sisters take the same schedule of classes and rely on the same built-in study group that helped them thrive in high school.

“I don’t think we mean to be competitive but we push each other to do the best we can and we’re always anxious to see who did the best,” Rachel Murphy said. “We don’t think of it as competitive but it just kind of happens to be that way.”

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ABC News(DETROIT) -- The Michigan mother who was sentenced to jail last week for refusing a court order to vaccinate her son -- and who has since lost primary custody of her son -- said she would "do it all over again."

"I was trying to protect my kids," Rebecca Bredow, who lives in the Detroit area, told ABC News. "I was trying to stand up for what I believed in, and it was worth it for me to try and take the risk, because I was trying to stop the vaccinations from happening."

"Never in a million years did I ever think that I would end up in jail standing up to try to protect my kids, and standing up for my beliefs," Bredow added.

She said her time in jail "was the longest five days of my life."

Despite losing primary custody of her son, spending five days in jail and the fact that her son was vaccinated anyway, Bredow said standing up for her beliefs "was worth it."

Last week, a judge sentenced Bredow to seven days in jail for refusing to bring her son's vaccinations up to date. Prior to going to jail, Bredow told ABC News that she and her then-husband, Jason Horne, had initially agreed to space out vaccinations for their young son. She and Horne separated in 2008, and she said last week that Horne now wanted their son to receive all of his vaccinations, and she refused.

There are no known benefits for children from delaying vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who delay vaccines are also at risk of developing diseases during the time that they delay their vaccinations, the CDC added.

Young children also have the highest risk of developing a serious case of disease, according to the CDC. Delaying vaccines leaves children vulnerable at the time when they need the most protection from vaccines.

Bredow said her 9-year-old son's understanding of the situation is limited.

"The court has ordered that I'm not allowed to speak with him about it, which is kind of hard. He's almost 10 years old, so he understands more than the court would say I'm allowed to explain to him," Bredow said. "I don't know what his father has said to him, so I don't know what he's thinking right now."

Bredow said she has received an "overwhelming amount of support" from her community. "It's helped me get through this, truly," she added.

Benton G. Richardson, a lawyer for Bredow's ex-husband, declined ABC News' request for comment Thursday, but said in a statement last week that "this case is not truly about vaccinations."

Richardson added that Bredow and Horne have been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle, and a court sided with Horne in November 2016, ordering Bredow to vaccinate her son.

Court documents obtained by ABC News state that a court first asked Bredow to get immunizations for her son in November 2016, but state that as of September 2017, the child had not been vaccinated.

"It is our position that this case is not truly about vaccinations," Richardson said. "It is a case about Ms. Bredow refusing to comport with any number of the court's orders and actively seeking to frustrate Mr. Horne's joint legal custody rights."

Bredow denied the claims of her ex-husband's attorney.

"I have been the primary caregiver of my child since he was born. This was not leverage in any way," she said.

Bredow said she is planning on appealing and gaining back primary custody of her son.

The state of Michigan allows parents to opt out of certain vaccines for non-medical reasons. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, emphasizes the safety and importance of vaccines in a statement on their website.

"Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are the most significant medical innovation of our time," the group said. "Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives."

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iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A single case of locally transmitted Zika virus has been confirmed on Florida's west coast, according to the state's health department.

The isolated case occurred in Manatee County, south of Tampa and St. Petersburg, after a local couple traveled to Cuba, the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.

After the couple returned home, one partner fell ill to symptoms consistent with Zika virus infection, according to the health department. Evidence from a later investigation suggested that after that partner acquired Zika in Cuba, a mosquito in or near their home bit the infected partner and then later bit and transmitted the virus to the other partner, the health department said.

There is no evidence of an ongoing, active transmission of Zika virus to others, according to the health department.

This is the first case of locally transmitted Zika in the state this year, the department added. A total of 187 known Zika virus infections have been recorded in Florida in 2017, 107 of which were in pregnant women.

The health department has notified mosquito control, which will take measures to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the Manatee County area.

This case of Zika does not meet the requirements to establish a Zika zone, according to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The health department said it will notify the public should it identify any areas of ongoing, active Zika transmission.

Health officials urged those who travel to known areas with Zika virus to use mosquito deterrents for at least three weeks after returning home, as well as condoms to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of the virus.

The health department also urged Floridians to help reduce mosquito populations near their homes and businesses by draining standing water and using repellents.

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PIN-UPS FOR VETS(CLAREMONT, Calif.) -- Nearly two dozen female veterans traded in their uniforms for sky-high heels in an effort to cheer up their fellow veterans -- and more importantly, raise money to provide financial assistance for veterans' health care needs.

Twenty-one veterans, serving a total of 145 years in all branches of the military, posed for Pin-Up for Vets 2018 calendar. The 1940s-style calendar features a weapons' instructor, a surgery technician, an intelligence officer and a military vehicle operator, among others.

The calendar, which serves as a fundraiser to help veterans' hospitals and health care programs, was started in 2006 by Gina Elise. Her grandfather served in World War II.

"At the time, there were many stories in the news about our troops coming back from Iraq, needing medical care that I felt so strongly that I wanted to do something to support our troops and veterans," she told ABC News.

Elise, 35, was inspired to create a pin-up style calendar because "pin-ups were really a symbol of hope to support troops and veterans."

Jennifer Marshall, who served in the Navy for five years, is part of the 2018 calendar.

"It was wonderful," Marshall said of the photo shoot, held on Hofer Ranch in Ontario, California, over three days last summer.

The veteran said the shoot was made even more special because she could bond with fellow service women.

She continued, "And speaking for the other ladies, everyone has expressed how much it means to them to recapture our femininity, give back to the community and have that long-lasting friendship with other veterans."

Since 2006, the calendars have raised nearly $60,000 for veteran hospitals to purchase new equipment as well as provide financial assistance for veterans. It's also help fund the non-profit organizations' "50-State VA Hospital Tour," where they hand-deliver many of the calendars to vets.

"Some of these veteran patients are in the hospital for weeks and months and they won’t have any visitors," Elise said of why she began visiting hospitals. "It’s essential to let our nation’s heroes know how much we value them."

"Undoubtedly, there are a lot of people living in this world who are in need of care, time, and attention," United States Marine Corps veteran Tess Rutherford, who is featured in the 2018 calendar, said in a statement. "But for me, I feel it is my duty ... my responsibility to extend a helping hand to my fellow veteran."

Marshall, who is now an actress living in Los Angeles, agreed. She was initially hesitant to be part of the calendar, but after being involved in Pin-Up for Vets since 2015, she is now one of the organization's most active volunteers, visiting a veterans hospital every six weeks.

"Because they mean so much," she explained. "The visits that break my heart are when veterans tell us that we are their first visitor. That is so upsetting to me. It kind of reminds us why these non-profits that go into hospitals ... are so important."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Like many toddlers, Eva and Erika Sandoval spent their third birthday party playing with friends and family, laughing and eating cake -- a Princess Sofia cake from the Disney TV series, “Sophia the First,” for Eva and a Woody from “Toy Story” cake for Erika.

The twin girls each had their own party outfits -- Eva was dressed as Princess Sophia, Erika was dressed as Woody.

But for their parents, Aida and Art Sandoval, this was more than just their daughters’ birthday. It was a miracle.

This was the first birthday the twins, who were born conjoined and who had spent most of their young lives in a hospital, had celebrated as separate individuals. Doctors weren’t certain they would make it this far.

When then-44-year-old Aida Sandoval found out she was pregnant three years ago with twins, she and her husband were surprised but “so excited.” But as they started to plan to add two more to their family of five, the couple received devastating news. Her doctor referred her to a specialist who told her that the twins were conjoined and may not survive.

“[The doctor] asked me to call Art,” Aida said. “And I couldn’t. Like, how do I tell him? … So the doctor had to call him.”

Conjoined twins are a rare phenomenon, and their chances of survival are even rarer. About half are stillborn and only 35 percent survive beyond their first day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The Sandovals, who live outside of Sacramento, reached out to Dr. Gary Hartman at Lucile Packard Stanford Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California, an expert in the world of conjoined twins and who had six successful separation surgeries under his belt. When Dr. Hartman reviewed the Sandovals’ case, he said he was honest with the couple about the twins’ chances of survival.

“What we told them was [what] we thought [which was] we didn’t know that they could be separated,” he said. “We said, ‘You would need to assume … that they would never walk’ … We weren’t real optimistic about quality of life.”

Doctors gave the Sandovals the option of terminating the pregnancy.

"We talked about it, we talked about it," Art said. "It was like - let’s give them a chance....You know? It’s- if it was meant to be, it's meant to be."

At 33 weeks, Aida gave birth to Erika Rose and Eva Victoria. The girls were joined from the sternum all the way down to the pelvis and they shared a third leg.

The first time seeing them was “very emotional,” Aida Sandoval said.

“They have tubes, they had the little covers over their eyes,” she said. “You can’t carry them, they’re very fragile … you feel helpless because you question yourself, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ But then you talk to them, you say, ‘You are strong, and you’re going to get through this.’”

The twins spent the first few months of their lives in the neonatal intensive care unit. They weren’t deemed strong enough to go home until they were 7 months old.

When the Sandovals were allowed to finally take them home, Aida said she dressed them in little gowns. Over time, they reached milestones together -- their first words, learning to stand and developing their own personalities, with Eva as the talkative one and Erika as the observer.

But by the time they reached 2 years old, Eva had grown stronger than her sister, and then their health started to decline, so the decision was made to attempt to separate them.

In trying to explain the surgery to the girls, Aida said, “I would always role play, and [say], ‘Some magic is going to happen, and Dr. Hartman is going to be your magician.’”

The surgery was very risky. The American Pediatric Surgical Association said that at that point, only 250 separation surgeries have been successfully performed in the world, and doctors told the Sandovals that there was a 30 percent chance one of the twins would die.

Art Sandoval said they weighed the odds, but in the end they knew their girls were fighters, and he said they believed, “They will pull through this.”

On the morning of the surgery, Dec. 7, 2016, the medical team, led by Hartman, started with a prayer asking for unity, strength and guidance. Hartman’s plan was to separate the organs in the girls’ chests first and then move down the abdomen and finish with the pelvis.

After five-and-a-half hours, the girls were separated successfully, but the surgery was far from over. The medical team realized they didn’t have enough skin to close the girls’ incisions so they had to turn to their once shared third leg.

“They had told us earlier that they may have been able to use that third leg and keep it and give it to Erika, but when it came down to it, there wasn’t enough tissue to cover up Erika. So they had to use the tissue of the leg,” Art said.

“That was really hard,” Aida added. “It’s just like a punch in the gut.”

After 13 hours of surgery, Eva was wheeled into recovery. Her sister Erika followed two hours later. Their parents were on pins and needles until they saw the girls.

“I was excited just to know that they were alive still,” Aida said. “Just to know -- see them breathing.”

In the weeks that followed, Erika, the once smaller twin, thrived, making tremendous progress in physical therapy, but recovery was a bigger challenge for Eva.

Through all of this, Aida was mostly parenting solo as Art, who had to keep working full-time to cover the medical bills, drove the three hours from their home in Sacramento to the hospital in Palo Alto every weekend to visit her and the twins.

Finally, three months after their separation surgery, the twins were allowed to go home. Under the care of their local hospital, Eva and Erika continued to go to physical therapy and were fitted for wheelchairs. At home, the family settled into a new routine, with Aida being able to walk outside with a stroller built for two for the first time.

The best part of this whole journey, Aida said, was “finally bringing them home and being a family.”

“We’ll still say, ‘Dr. Hartman and his team performed magic,’” she continued. “Eva will see her scar and she goes, ‘My sister was right here.’ And I said, ‘Yes, your sister was right there.’”

The girls made amazing progress, surpassing all expectations, but they still have more challenges ahead. They have been on feeding tubes since birth and are just now getting used to eating solid foods.

But they are embracing their independence as typical toddlers, full of curiosity and mischief.

“The worst part is over,” Aida said. “We’re here. We’re done … when you think about it or when you talk about it, those emotions do come back. But right now, it’s just looking forward, looking to the future … and they are vivacious, they are just -- they’re spunky little girls.”

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ABCNews.com(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- A Florida doctor, who was seen yelling and cursing at a patient in a now-viral video, said he did so because the woman was "abusive to the office staff," according to a statement he released on Wednesday.

Peter Gallogly, a physician at the Gainesville After Hours Clinic in northern Florida, said the video was the last minute of an "hour-long episode" with Jessica Stipe, who he says became irate and refused to leave the office. Gallogly also apologized, however, saying he "overreacted."

Stipe, who shared a video of the incident on her Facebook page Monday, said she was "in severe pain and throwing up in the trash can" when she complained about the long wait time and asked for her co-pay back, according to her Facebook post.

She said she called the police after the doctor allegedly snatched her 16-year-old daughter’s phone and shoved her when she attempted to retrieve it, according to the post.

"I asked for my co pay back so I could leave and go back home to bed and try to be seen elsewhere tomorrow because I'm just that miserable," Stripe wrote. "The Dr was mad I wanted my co pay back and was unhappy with having to wait so long and proceeded to cuss me out."

Stipe’s video had more than 310,000 views and over 2,200 shares on Facebook as of Thursday morning.

Gallogly apologized in a statement on Wednesday and said he was defending his staff when he overreacted. He also sent ABC’s Gainesville affiliate WCJB testimonies from witnesses who described Stripe as "irate" and alleged that she threatened them.

"Ms. Stipe had been increasingly belligerent and abusive to the office staff, cursing and threatening them with violence, because she was unwell and had been waiting to seen by me for more than an hour," Gallogly wrote in a statement obtained by WCJB.

He said the situation escalated after Stripe received her refund, but refused to leave.

"I went to the front desk only because after Ms. Stipe received her refund, she refused to leave the office, and continued her abusive behavior towards staff,” Gallogly said.

"Despite repeated requests from the office staff, she repeatedly demanded to see me instead of leaving," he added.

The Gainesville Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the incident, according to the Gainesville Sun.
 
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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The community of Sacramento, California, pulled together to help a boy with a congenital heart condition fulfill his dream of becoming a real-life ninja.

Bryant Mordinoia, 5, was diagnosed with his condition the day he was born, his father Justin Mordinoia told ABC News today.

When asked what he wished for by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeastern California and Northern Nevada, Bryant immediately said he wanted to become a real-life ninja because "ninja's fight bad guys."

"He’s the sweetest kid, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body," Mordinoia said of his son. "He is a very loving kid, a little bit shy. He's opening up today ... he's having a blast."

"He had his first open heart surgery at two months old," Mordinoia added. Bryant was scheduled to have another open heart surgery this year, but his father said doctors pushed it back in hopes that he could grow a little stronger first.

Mordinoia added that Bryant has been obsessed with the Lego Ninjago movie.

"If we’re at home, and Netflix is on, if its not Lego Ninjago there's a problem," Mordinoia added. "He walks around the house kicking and punching."

The Make-A-Wish Foundation set up ninja training for Bryant and then called on community members to come cheer him on as he saved Sacramento from an evil villain.

Bryant will be "called upon to save Sacramento and chase the villain around town with action-packed altercations," the invitation from the Make-A-Wish Foundation stated.

Throughout the day, Bryant helped catch a villain who tried to steal an elderly woman's purse outside of the Bank of the West, and then helped free a police officer who was held hostage by the villain in a series of elaborately orchestrated showdowns by the Make-A-Wish foundation and with the support of the community.

"He won't stop talking and is loving every minute of it," Mordinoia said of the festivities for Bryant held today.

Mordinoia added that the support his family has received from the community went "over and above" what he expected, saying that hundreds of people came to cheer Bryant on as he fought off bad guys.

"I didn't expect it to be half of what it is now, there's hundreds of people here," the father said.

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Britney Horton(BIDDEFORD, Maine) -- The family of a terminally ill boy is asking strangers to lift his spirits by sending him greeting cards for his favorite holiday of Halloween.

Now, Brock Chadwick has received nearly 1,000 cards from places as far away as Singapore.

"It's definitely very exciting and he's happy," mom Brittney Horton told ABC News. "You can tell he hasn't been the greatest but it's lifted him for sure."

Horton of Biddeford, Maine, said her son, Brock, 7, was diagnosed in February with glioblastoma, a high-grade cancer in his brain and spine.

"A recent MRI scan showed that he has more tumors both throughout his brain and spine and basically those tumors are starting to cause his body problems," Horton said. "He just recently had a seizure so it's getting scary."

A nurse at Maine Children's Cancer Program at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital said Brock is one of their patients, but could not comment further due to privacy laws.

"To cheer him up, Horton said that Brock's great-aunt began a movement called "Brocktoberfest," requesting Halloween cards from people through the her "Team Brock" Facebook page since he loves the holiday so much.

Soon cards, candy, books and pictures came pouring in from all over the world including France, the United Kingdom and Scotland.

"I didn't think it was going to be this many," Horton said. "I was expected maybe a couple hundred, definitely not this."

With help from his sister, Aubri-Ella, 3, Brock has begun opening almost 1,000 cards. On Tuesday alone, he counted 75 packages, Horton said.

Each card is filled with well-wishes and Halloween jokes

"It's made him smile a whole lot more," Horton said.

Brock hopes to be either the Hulk or Captain America for Halloween

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LOCAL NEWS

News Headlines for Mon., Oct. 16, 2017

Sharp Cold Front brings short-lived storms, knocks down trees and power lines... There were some downed trees and power lines... but, no serious issues were reported when a sharp cold front cam...

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