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Paying It Forward: Kidney Vouchers

Sarrah M

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Who wouldn’t do anything to save someone they loved? Most of us would have very few limits when it came to finding a way to save a loved one’s life. 

Sometimes that seems like an impossible task, like in the case of 7-year-old-Quinn Gerlach. He was born with only one kidney, and that kidney doesn’t function the way it should. There is a very real possibility that Quinn will need another kidney in the future, and his grandfather wanted to help. But retired judge Howard Broadman isn’t compatible, so he can’t be the one to offer his kidney to Quinn.

What does it mean to be compatible?

In order to donate a kidney to someone, both people have to have a lot in common. First, the donor will need to take a blood test to see if blood types match. There are 4 basic blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Individuals also may or may not have an Rh factor, in which case they would either be positive or negative.

After blood typing, the donor will be checked for tissue typing. Tissue typing will determine how many antigens the donor and recipient share. Six out of six is best, but it’s hard to find. Parents probably only share 50%. The last compatibility test is cross-matching, where the recipient is tested at least twice to see if he or she reacts to the new kidney. It’s no good to get a kidney your body attacks as a foreign invader.

Finally, the donor must be checked for overall physical health, in order to make sure the donor will be able to successfully donate without coming to harm. There could be several tests before the transplant team is satisfied.

Getting creative

Once Howard realized he couldn’t donate the kidney himself, he started thinking of how else to help. There are never enough donated kidneys to help everyone who needs it, so Howard figured there was a huge unmet need.

Howard ended up donating his kidney to a complete stranger, a retired airport manager named Kathy, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. In exchange for the kidney, he received a gift certificate for a kidney. He presented the voucher to his grandson, and Quinn can use it to help him get to the top of a transplant list if there is a compatible kidney available.

The idea catches on

At this point, about 30 hospitals around the country are willing to work with donors who want to swap kidneys. Instead of just potentially saving his grandson’s life, Howard set a new idea in motion that has already saved many lives. Other family members who want to help their loved ones now know that they can donate their kidneys so they can get a voucher to get a kidney from another stranger in exchange.

Kidneys are unusual in that people only need one kidney to survive. That is why it is possible to donate one kidney and continue to live a long, healthy life. Selena Gomez is one of the biggest stars in the world and she received a kidney from her best friend.  Anyone who wants to help someone by being a live kidney donor but doesn’t know where to start can check out the information at The Big Ask: The Big Give.

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Twitter not able to handle photos of an adorable curly-haired cat

Danielle S

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In August 2017, a Twitter user shared a photo of what looked like an orange curly-haired stuffed toy. As it turns out, it was a real cat. Since the photo was uploaded, it was taken social media by storm including users of Reddit and Imgur. In the photo, it looks like the cat was given a perm or fluffed by a hair-dryer. Some users thought it looked more like a poodle than a cat. Some viewers believe the photo was fake or digitally modified, but that is not true. The curls of the cat are what was so unbelievable about the photo. The majority of the people have seen cats with straight hair, so this cat seems like an anomaly.

These types of cats belong to the Selkirk Rex Breed. Their curls are a result of the mutation of different genes. The breed has been known for at least three decades. The “Rex” class refers to the breeds that have gone through genetic mutation for wavy or curly hair. Other such breeds as the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex. The Selkirk Rex has earned the nickname of “Cat in a Sheep’s clothing”. The stuffed toy look of the cat makes her an ideal pet for owners looking for a cuddly friend. The cat is known to be excellent with children and other pets.

According to Hillspet.com, pet owners need to take special care of the luxurious curly hair of the cat. They recommend not using a brush on the hair. Just gentle combing is enough. Over-brushing leads to frizzled and damaged hair. For bathing, make sure you do not use any thick shampoo as that will flatten the hair. Just like any other cat, this breed also sheds some hair, so it is good practice to comb the hair gently regularly. The shedding is highest during the summer months, so during those months, extra combing will be needed. Other typical requirements include brushing teeth, physical activity, and regular vet visits.

 The cat breed is categorized as small to large with the heavy bone structure. It gives an impression of power and strength. The Selkirk Rex is known to be tough cats but they are also affectionate towards the owners. They might look powerful, but in nature, they are very obedient. They do have a high requirement for grooming.

The cats originated from a housecat by the name of Miss DePesto of Noface from Montana. A local breeder, Jeri Newman, adopted the kitten and let her breed with a black Persian cat. Only three out of six from the litter were born with the signature curly hair. The name was inspired by the nearby Selkirk Mountains. It was declared as an official breed in 2012.

Petful, a popular online resource for pet owners, believes that for Selkirk Rex cats, the topcoat consists of three layers and the length of the layers can vary from short or long. There is a variety in the color of the coat as well. According to Cat Fanciers’ Association, this breed has these curls from birth for the majority of the cats. When the coat thins down, the whiskers remain as curly as before.

The photos of the Selkirk Rex cat got thousands of likes and comments and it has become an internet sensation. It has also helped raise awareness about this breed. There is no doubt that these photos are going to increase the popularity of Selkirk Rex cats and many people are going to want one as a pet. Just make sure to take proper care of this magnificent animal.

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Little Girl Nuzzles Deer, and the Deer Nuzzles Back

Amanda J

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Animals have always charmed humans.

We love to watch them frolic and scamper through dewy meadows. We enjoy birds tweeting at our feeders, and squirrels chasing each other through the trees. After all, what’s cuter than Bambi?

I will tell you– it’s a deer playing with a baby human!

Let me set the scene for you. A deer chows down on grass in a clearing in the woods. Several black and white dogs explore the area, connecting with each other and the nature that surrounds them. A child with a stick– possibly used for walking– begins to approach the deer.

Some mothers may be concerned if their child steps away and begins to interact with a woodland creature. Even though deer are not predators, they can be dangerous.  But in this case, there is no cause for worry.

The toddler approaches the deer, running fearlessly with a stick towards the herbivore. Rather than run away, or act aggressively, the deer’s reaction is to begin to check out the child. At first, the deer doesn’t know what to make of this new companion. Slowly, the deer places its face right next to the child’s, as if to say, I  recognize that this is a young little person who means no harm. The child is delighted, and the nuzzling begins! The deer rubs its face down the back of the child’s clothes– its black nose smelling the nape of the neck.

The deer nuzzles a bit too hard, and the baby trips! But it isn’t in danger; it’s just treading through uneaven forest ground.

The deer shakes its head around and kicks its feet up, playfully signalling its lack of aggression. I’m not sure if animals can feel emotions, but it sure looks like this deer is expressing joy.

As the adventurous child rises to its feet, the deer gives it a butt with the head– gently, to help the kiddo stand. Perhaps the deer recognizes a new play mate in this young companion.

The deer kicks around gleefullly– it’s so happy to have found a friend!

The child approaches the deer again, without any fear.

The deer backs into the kid’s face, as if to say, hey, this is my space, friend!

The child can be heard squealing in delight as it approaches the deer.

At this point, the entire group is at ease and in play mode. The camera shows a 360 degree shot of the scene– including additional dogs, and two horses who have been observing from behind a fence.

This is an experience the child and family will remember forever. It’s possible the kid’s love of nature may have started at this moment, and will grow with age. Who knows– maybe this is a future park ranger, or perhaps just a national park visitor. Either way, it’s a special experience between nature and humans that reminds us about the importance of play.

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Older Dogs Express So Much Love for Their Missed Loved Ones

Danielle S

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Anyone who has ever adopted a senior pet knows how rewarding it is. Older pets are grateful to their new families for taking them in, caring for them, and protecting them. They hope that they can stay in their home forever. 

It is even better to get to spend a lifetime with your pet, growing together, going through good times and bad year after year.  There is no question that pets and owners who spend that many years together start to resemble each other and truly become best friends.

One of the saddest things is that pets don’t live as long as humans, so there is always a time when we know we will have to say goodbye. The average dog only lives until about the age of 13, although there are some exceptions. That doesn’t keep people from forming bonds and enjoying every minute together possible.

When older pets are separated from their loved ones for very long, they miss them a lot and their behavior makes it clear how they feel. Even if they are too old to engage in the wild antics of a younger dog, you can easily see the extra pep in their step when theyknow their owner is  finally back.

Army Private Hannah Foraker knows the joy of having an older pet. She got to grow up with her pet, and she was 21 when she enlisted in the Army and had to start her service.  Her dog Buddy was 13 years old when she had to go away for 3 monthas so she could complete her basic training.

Hannah was raised in Ohio, but she had to go to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for her training. That is a long way for friends who are used to being able to see each other all the time. 

Buddy isn’t just old, but he is also deaf and he is starting to slow down. His face is mostly white, but he is still beautiful and fluffy. He had also recently developed arthritis, so it hurt him to move very fast. 

Hannah came back from her training on March 14, 2016, to visit Buddy and the rest of her family. Buddy may move slowly, but he made it clear how happy he was that Hannah was home. He greeted her with tail wagging and was so excited that he was whining.

Hannah got down on the ground to make it easier for Buddy, who kept whimpering and furiously wagging his tail.  She patted her leg, and Buddy put his head down so he could feel as close as possible to his sister. 

Hannah got a specialist position where she has to work from a location in Texas, so she doesn’t get to see Buddy every day anymore. She worries about what would happen if he tried to make a trip that far so she keeps in touch with video calls, and she says Buddy may not understand everything about what’s happening but he gets very excited. Hannah can’t wait to get another break so she can visit Buddy again. 

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A Cheek Swab on a Local Dog Reveals Interesting Results

Danielle S

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Growing up, there are plenty of people who want a pet. It is not unusual for people to want a dog or cat when they grow up. This is a great way to learn about responsibility and unconditional love at the same time. Dogs, cats, and other domestic pets often fall in love with their owners. After all, even though we might live to be 100 years old, we are all that pet snow. Therefore, it is important for us to take care of them.

This is the story of one pet owner who didn’t get a pet until after she graduated college. She moved in with her boyfriend and the two of them talked about getting a shelter dog. This is a great way to provide a pet with a forever home full of love and care. Therefore, the couple started to monitor the website of a local shelter. They were interested in adopting a pet. After a few weeks, the couple got their wish. They saw the profile of a hypoallergenic dog online. This was great because the boyfriend suffered from strong allergies. They immediately got to work and within 24 hours, they had adopted a dog named Bella.

This dog was a Tiberian terrier. They tried to learn more about the breed online, but she didn’t quite look like any of the pictures they found on the Internet. They began to suspect that this dog might have a different background than the typical Tiberian terror. Therefore, they decided to take the next step. They invested in a DNA test. They got the DNA kit and spot the dog’s cheek. Then, they sent the cheek swab out to the lab. Finally, they waiting nervously for the results. They wanted to know why their dog looks different from the other pictures they had found on the Internet.

In general, this dog breed is known for its herding skills. In the past, they were used to herd livestock, keeping them together so nobody got lost from the pack. The breed is also known for its strength and stubbornness. Underneath this show of force is a compassionate heart that simply wants to live in play. This is exactly what the couple discovered. Bella was also strong, stubborn, and playful. On the other hand, there were a few characteristics that didn’t quite seem to fit. This is why they decided to order a DNA test for their dog.

The couple waited several days for the test results to come back. Then, they receive them in the mail. They were so excited. When they open the results, it turns out that their dog is not a Tiberian terrier at all. Furthermore, there isn’t any Tiberian terrier blood in her ancestry. In reality, Bella was actually more poodle than anything else. In addition, they were traces of Yorkshire terrier and Bernese Mountain Dog in the DNA results. The couple was so surprised. While they thought there would be other breeds present, they assumed the shelter had gotten it mostly correct. This explains why the terrier didn’t quite look like the pictures. 

Despite the test results, the couple still loves their dog all the same. Bella has a big heart and has brought a lot of happiness to their lives. This is a perfect example of how couples can fall in love with any dog. While the DNA testing kit was a fun adventure for the couple, they know not to put their stock in the results entirely. They are going to love their dog regardless of the results.

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An Adorable Child Develops Baby Fever and Gets Rewarded

Liz L

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Most people have heard about baby fever at some point in the past. Usually, this condition impacts adults who are around the age to start having children. While everyone has children at different ages, people can still feel it when the biological clock starts ticking. Particularly for women, they know there is a window in which they are going to have children. When they reach this age, they know there is a limited amount of time. Therefore, they start to plan for children and figure out how to make it happen.

This is a unique story about a child who actually got baby fever. This child’s mother is a professional photographer who specializes in taking pictures of newborn babies. Furthermore, she actually already had a four-year-old son. Her son got used to seeing the newborn babies come in and out and parents invested in photos of their pride and joy. Then, the son started to get baby fever. She started begging his mother to get pregnant again because he wanted to have a younger brother or sister to take care of. This went on and on. The photographer said the begging wouldn’t stop. Therefore, she eventually caved; however, she decided to take an alternate approach to the situation.

She also wanted to have another living thing to take care of; however, she didn’t think that another child was going to be in the cards in the near future. Regardless, she needed a way to put a halt to the incessant begging of her son. Her son even came home one day and asked her if she was pregnant yet! What kind of a child does this? This finally triggered the photographer to come up with a great idea to address everything.

She decided to go to the internet and look for answers. That was where she came across golden retrievers who needed a loving home. She picked out a young puppy and decided to name her Lucy. She went to go pick Lucy up and learned all about the breed. Then, it was time to bring the puppy home. When she walked through the door, she was carrying the adorable dog in a tiny picnic basket. She called over her son to open up the basket and take a look inside. That was when her son realized what was going on. He instantly fell in love with the dog and didn’t want to do anything except cuddle with her day and night. Just like that, his baby fever was cured. Of course, the story doesn’t stop there. There was plenty more to this adorable story.

Of course, being a professional photographer for newborn babies, the photographer needed to commemorate the situation. That was when she decided to take some newborn pictures of the happy couple. She decided to take a few photos of the puppy dressed up like a newborn baby. There were plenty of outfits, backgrounds, and poses. This dog deserved to get the full treatment. Of course, her son also got in on the action. There are awesome pictures of him smiling and cuddling the dog just like any other newborn baby. While the dog looks happy in some of them, it is clear that she is not a huge fan of some of the outfits, particularly the ones that involve a hat. Regardless, this is a great story of how parents can address baby fever with their children. If a newborn baby is not in the cards, remember that there are always dogs out there that are looking for a home.

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