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SYRedCrescent/Twitter(NEW YORK) --  Syrian conjoined twins who were evacuated from their war-torn town in Syria for medical treatment died of heart failure Wednesday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent announced.

The boys, who were conjoined at the chest, also suffered from cleft lip and cleft palate (facial and oral malformations) and liver distortions, the nonprofit humanitarian group said. They were receiving care at a hospital in the country before they could travel abroad for surgery, the BBC reported.

On Aug. 12, the 2-month-old twins, Nawras and Mou'az Al-Hashash were evacuated from the besieged Syrian town of Ghouta to a private hospital in Damascus, Syria, after doctors appealed to the World Health Organization for help. They were immediately placed in intensive care as they waited for permission to leave the country, Red Crescent said. The BBC reported that the babies would die if they were unable to undergo surgery.

 The twins were born on July 23 in eastern Ghouta, according to Red Crescent. Official authorities approved for them to be evacuated the next day, but the supervising medical staff in Ghouta refused to let them out.

It has been difficult for humanitarian aid to reach areas juts north of Damascus, such as Ghouta, due to heavy fighting and prolonged shelling since the war began, the BBC reported.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Though they are designed to help deter teen pregnancies, school programs that involve the use of "baby simulators" may have the opposite effect, according to an Australian study published Thursday.

The investigators found that girls enrolled in schools that employed infant dolls and education sessions that simulate what having a baby might be like, were about 36 percent more likely to have a pregnancy -- at least one birth or abortion by age 20 -- compared to those in schools that only employed the standard school curriculum.

"We were very surprised" Sally Brinkman, lead author and associate professor at Telethon Kids Institute at University of Western Australia told ABC News. "It’s one thing to get results to say it doesn't work, it’s another to get results that does the opposite."

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, followed more than 2,800 teen girls, age 13 to 15 years old at 57 schools in Australia tracking them until the age of 20.

Brinkman said this is the first study to link actual medical and birth data to a study that evaluates the use of simulator dolls and its effect on teen pregnancies.

The infant dolls, central to these baby simulator programs, are designed to look and behave like real babies. They can cry and burp and require diapering, feeding and care throughout the day and night.

A set of lessons -- including education sessions, workbooks and a video documentary of teenage mothers talking about their own lives -- supplement the experience by exploring "the physical, emotional, social, and financial consequences of becoming pregnant and dealing with parenthood," according to the doll manufacturer Reality Works.

Reality Works did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Both students and school staff who complete the program ended up liking the experience, according to the study.

"A lot of the teenagers become attached to their fake babies" and it allows the administrators "to engage the teenagers," the study said.

However, according to Brinkan, teen girls were not only more likely to be pregnant, but also more likely to keep their pregnancy if they participated in the infant simulator program.

The findings held true even after they took into account various factors, including socioeconomic status, education, family type, prior sexual experience, psychological distress, prior responsibility for caring for a baby and toxic habits.

While the study was done in western Australia, more than 89 countries use these simulators, including the U.S.

"School is starting, this is a really good time to be talking about sex education," Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, a professor of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and chair of the Committee on Adolescence at the American Academy of Pediatrics told ABC News.

However, she said there’s wasn’t enough evidence to cite the programs as a cause of increased pregnancy rates, at this point.

Breuner said it was unclear if different socioeconomic backgrounds or changing education levels may have played a role in pregnancy rates, as well.

"I welcome controlled studies looking at teen pregnancy prevention trials," she said. "I am grateful people are looking at this."

Though she believes there should be more research into the programs, she said school administrators should not panic.

"If I were an educator and had this in my school, I wouldn’t stop doing [the program] based on this article, but I would take a look at it."

She added that this study helps “pull the lens back" on the programs and that educators and researchers should "take a long hard look at it and consider that [they] may not be an effective intervention or taking a look at the way [they are] done."

While the study does not explore the reasons behind the spike in teen pregnancies associated with the electronic infants, the study cites other smaller studies that suggest few girls believed caring for their own infant would be the same as caring for a simulated infant.

The teen who found it difficult to care for the simulator tended to believe it would be much easier to look after their own baby, the study said.

Another paper mentioned in this research suggested that girls at risk of becoming pregnant enjoyed the attention they received while looking after their doll, which may have reinforced the desire to have a baby of their own.

"The main thing to get out is, even though people like these programs, it doesn't seem to work,” Brinkman said.

After an initial cost of $500 for a starter pack, each baby costs approximately $1,000, she noted.

"It is a high cost to the schools and the education system," Brinkman said. "Even worse, they may be doing harm. Seems like a very silly waste of public funding."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As children head back to school, the temptation to share your excitement with a first day photo on social media is understandable.

But Donna Rice Hughes, the president & CEO of Enough Is Enough, a non-profit organization that seeks to maximize Internet safety for children and families, is urging parents to think carefully about the information they post.

First and foremost, Hughes encourages parents to double check their privacy settings, and make sure that only friends can view their posts. But, she notes, private posts can still be shared outside of the protected network.

As a rule of thumb: "Don’t assume that any information will not be shared publicly."

Though it's become popular to post photos of kids posing with a sign including information like their name, age, grade, school district, favorite activities and some other cute factoids, Hughes recommends keeping details to a minimum.

"Think before you post, nothing is truly private," Hughes said. "There are unsafe people online."

For that reason, if you feel inclined to share information about your rising star on social media, Hughes suggests keeping it to grade only, and not mentioning details like school district, which could disclose where your child can be found.

"The more information you give [predators], the easier you make it for them to find your child," she added.

As parents adjust to the ever-evolving Internet, Hughes reminds us that staying safe online is a team effort.

"If you see a friend not being as careful, warn them," she said. "We need to help protect each other and help protect each others kids."

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The New England Journal of Medicine(NEW YORK) -- Just in time for cold and flu season, MIT researchers are showing you exactly what a sneeze looks like in slow motion.

Lydia Bourouiba, of the MIT Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory, managed to film a real live sneeze at 1,000 frames per second.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the sneeze cloud shows how quickly sneeze droplets can travel.

Bourouiba reported that large droplets tended to land within 1 to 2 meters (about 3 to 6 feet) and that small droplets could get as far as 6 to 8 meters away (19 to 26 feet). She found that the sneeze itself transitions into a "freely evolving turbulent puff cloud" as it travels through the air.

All the more proof that you should absolutely cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Getting students to apply themselves in school isn’t always easy. As the summer ends and thoughts turn to a return to school and classes, some parents may be wondering how to help their children fall in love with learning from a young age.

It turns out that there may be an app for that.

Q Wunder, an app launching in September, uses games, fun, songs and celebrity interviews to try to teach the critical skills children need.

“There are decades of research show that social and emotional skills are a stronger correlate to school readiness and to life success,” said Sofia Dickens, the founder of EQtainment/Q Wunder.

Dickens said the app teaches children discipline, grit, resilience, focus, problem-solving skills as well as how to make eye contact and cope with everyday social situations.

Liz Kolb, an education technology specialist and professor at the University of Michigan School of Business, explained the significance of learning those skills early on.

“In kindergarten ... preschool, they focus on social needs, emotional needs of children. In particular, they focus a lot on things like cooperative play and working together,” she said.

And as the educational environment is changing for children, parents need to keep up.

Bibb Hubbard, the founder of Learning Heroes, which helps parents’ understanding of their children’s education, explained why, saying: “It’s really critical that parents are connected to what’s happening in their child’s classroom and know what they can do to help support their children at home.”

Data from "The Nation's Report Card," issued by the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, shows that 33 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in math, and 34 percent in reading. But Hubbard’s organization says 90 percent of parents believe their child is at or above grade level.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Are you considering plastic surgery? I’ll tell you what you should consider before going under the knife after this.

Nearly 16 million cosmetic procedures were performed last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The top five operations included breast augmentation, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery and tummy tucks.

If you're considering plastic surgery, here's what you should know before going under the knife:

  • Always go to a board certified plastic surgeon.
  • Be clear and realistic about your expectations.
  • If your surgery will take place at a surgery center, make sure there will be a board-certified anesthesiologist there taking care of you.
  • Remember that even with the best care, complications can occur, so be sure your decision to have surgery is for you and no one else.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Extreme Weight Loss trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell appeared on Good Morning America Thursday with tips to get your whole family active as the new school year begins.

Powell, who, with his wife, Heidi Powell, has a combined family of four kids, said that when motivating kids to move, it’s important to keep the activities fun and to offer incentives, like time with friends.

The same is true for adults, according to Powell, who said adults should find activities they want to keep doing day after day and ones that offer incentives, whether it be weight loss or a better quality of life.

Powell led kids on GMA in a workout that used circuits to keep the kids engaged.


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Try this workout with your kids and keep reading below for more of Powell’s workout tips!

Chris Powell's Back-to-School Workout for Kids


We use these circuits for both fun and reward.

1. Fun: We set the circuit up and invite the neighborhood kids to come compete. Best time wins!

2. Incentivized: They must complete the circuit x number of times to earn 30 minutes on their electronics (iPod, tablet, gaming system etc). When 30 minutes is up, they can opt to do the circuit again, or find something else to do. When using the circuit as incentive, you must complete/beat a specific time to earn your reward!

Circuit 1: Around the World


Supplies: Exercise mat, medicine ball, two orange cones, two to three rolls white floor tape, two buckets and tennis balls, two benches or chairs.

Movements:

2 x Over/Unders (climb over an obstacle, like a bench, then go under another, like a chair)

10 Push-ups

10-20 Walk the line (backward, forward, sideways "crossovers")

10 Sit-ups

Fast feet through an agility ladder or tape on ground

10 Ball Squats (squat down to a stationary ball – you may bounce off of the ball at the bottom)

10 Ball Slams (pick up ball and slam it!)

10 Box Jumps (jump onto 12-15” box then step down)

1 Successful Ball Toss (must throw tennis ball into bucket from 10 feet away)

10 Cone Touch Shuttle Sprints (side-to-side shuffle)

Kick one soccer ball through cones (soccer balls lined up and cones)

Sprint to the finish!

**Times are marked and kept for reference, to compete against others or against yourself.


Chris Powell's Bonus Tips


1. Body weight movements are the best form of conditioning for children.

2. Find what your child is passionate about and use that to motivate them to be active.

3. Kids should be careful when it comes to lifting weights and not lift any weights if they cannot handle their own body weight.

4. Have fun while being active with your kids and it won't seem like a chore, for you or for them.

5. If your child loves electronics, have them earn time on them by being active and being outside.

These are suggestions only. Adults and children should consult their physician before beginning any exercise program.


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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — First responders were reeling in Cincinnati after a mid-week spate of more than 50 heroin overdoses from Tuesday morning to Wednesday night.

Even in the midst of a drug epidemic that has made opioid overdoses an increasingly common feature in towns and cities across the nation, the wave of emergencies reported in Cincinnati took police, emergency responders and medical professionals by surprise, WCPO, a local ABC television affiliate reported on Wednesday night.

The 911 calls came from all over the city, WCPO reported, including one from the bathroom of an ice cream parlor, another from a McDonald’s, and yet another from the scene of a car crash caused by a man who had overdosed while driving.

Several of the overdose victims had to be revived, but one was not so lucky, turning the scene outside a local restaurant grim as authorities carried away the individual in a body bag.

“I am very disturbed about it,” area resident Richard Henson told WCPO. “It really saddens my heart.”

Police suspect a batch of heroin mixed with fentanyl, carfentanil or even rat poison may be to blame for the wave of overdoses.

Each of these ingredients is known to produce a greater high and a greater risk of overdose and death than pure heroin, said WCPO.

The deadly drug cocktails have even proven resistant to treatments like Narcan that have reduced overdose death rates. In at least one of the Cincinnati overdoses, the victim had to be given two doses of Narcan.

"I've got to say to whoever pushed this out on the street, this was the wrong thing to do," Newtown police Chief Tom Synan, head of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, told WCPO.

“You now have the full and undivided attention of the Hamilton County Coalition Task Force, which includes local, state and federal agencies, and I can tell you we'll all be working with the Cincinnati Police Department to see who pushed this out on the street."

Police suspect the involvement of multiple street-level dealers in the extremely dangerous batch, with at least one giving it away for free, said Capt. Aaron Jones of the Cincinnati Police Department.

"Of the victims (Tuesday) that would talk to us and were honest in telling us where they received this heroin from, it’s from several different people ... from several different areas," Jones told WCPO. "Some of those were given almost as what we call testers — 'Try this out and if you like it, you can get a hold of me.'"

Cincinnati is not the only area dealing with a sudden surge in overdose rates. A West Virginia town saw 27 heroin overdoses within four hours a week ago.

More than 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014, with opioids like heroin and fentanyl accounting for nearly 60 percent of that total.

The number of heroin users in the United States reached one million in 2014, a 20-year high, while heroin-related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000, according to a United Nations study published in June.

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Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --   While obesity is often associated with a host of other health issues including high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack, a new study is examining how the condition is also related to cancer risk.

A review of several studies published today in the New England Journal of Medicine found new associations between obesity the development of eight additional cancers, in addition to others previously known.

Researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at more than 1,000 epidemiological studies and found that "excess body fatness" is also linked to the risk of developing gastric, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, ovarian, thyroid, blood (multiple myeloma) and brain (meningioma) cancers.

"I think the main takeaway point is that your health and specifically your body fatness is an important factor for many types of cancer," Dr. Richard Lee, Medical Director of the Integrative and Supportive Oncology Program at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, told ABC News.

"Patients should understand that they can decrease the risk for developing cancer and improving overall survivorship," by keeping their weight below obesity thresholds, he said. This information can help doctors advising patients on cancer risk, he added.

Researchers in this study also attempted to quantify the risk for obese people to develop this variety of cancers. They found obese people had 1.8 times the risk for developing liver cancer, 4.8 times as high for esophageal adenocarcinoma, and 7.1 times as high for uterine cancer. They also confirmed that for some of these cancers, as your weight goes up, so does the risk.

 People may not always connect being overweight to cancer risk in the manner they associate drinking or smoking with increased risk of cancer, Lee noted.

"The public hasn't been educated enough that it is a significant risk factor," he said. "I see patients who are interested in ways they can reduce overall cancer [risk]. I always tell them the first place to start is nutrition and exercise and physical fitness."

This is one of the most comprehensive studies on cancer and obesity to date, according to Dr. Xiao Ou Shu, Associate Director for Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. He believes it could help educate the public that being overweight isn't only about cardiac problems.

"I think that the public has been informed about the potential risk for cancer associated with obesity, but there has been much more information disseminated about cardiovascular disease risk than cancer risk," Ou Shu told ABC News.

One positive discovery from this study the authors found is that obese people who lose weight appear to reduce their cancer risk.

"Lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, in addition to not smoking, can have a significant impact on reducing cancer risk," Graham Colditz, MD, Dr PH and deputy director of the School of Public Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who chaired the IARC Working Group, said in a statement. "Public health efforts to combat cancer should focus on these things that people have some control over."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging are calling for Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, to brief members of Congress about the drastic price increase of the medication since 2007.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill sent a letter to Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, asking her to explain why the price of an EpiPen has spiked 400 percent since 2007.

“We are concerned that these drastic price increases could have a serious effect on the health and well-being of every day Americans," the senators wrote in a letter addressed to Bresch. "As leaders of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, we are particularly concerned that seniors have access to EpiPen® because, according to Mylan’s website, older Americans ‘may be at an increased risk of having a more severe anaphylactic reaction if they are exposed to biting and stinging insects.’”

The senators told Bresch to come to Capitol Hill "at a mutually convenient time no later than two weeks from today.”

The company has come under fire in recent days over the cost of the popular EpiPen, the most common epinephrine injector on the market. Other members of Congress, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Richard Blumentahl of Connecticut, have written to Mylan about their concerns.

Today, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a statement calling the price hike "outrageous."

"I believe that our pharmaceutical and biotech industries can be an incredible source of American innovation, giving us revolutionary treatments for debilitating diseases," she said in a statement. "But it's wrong when drug companies put profits ahead of patients, raising prices without justifying the value behind them."

A Mylan spokeswoman told ABC News the company plans on meeting with members of Congress.

"We have reached out to every member of Congress who has sent us a letter, including Sen. Blumenthal, and we look forward to meeting with them and responding to their questions as soon as possible," the spokeswoman told ABC News.

 In 2007, when Mylan Pharmaceuticals took over producing the drug from Merck, the cash price of the pens was about $50, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Today, the cost of the drug is approximately $600 according to Good RX, which posts drug prices at pharmacies across the country.

The American Medical Association has also released a statement imploring Mylan to reduce the price of the drug.

"Although the product is unchanged since 2009, the cost has skyrocketed by more than 400 percent during that period. The AMA has long urged the pharmaceutical industry to exercise reasonable restraint in drug pricing, and, with lives on the line, we urge the manufacturer to do all it can to rein in these exorbitant costs," AMA officials said in a statement today. "The high cost of these devices may either keep them out of reach of people in need or force some families to choose between EpiPens and other essentials."

Mylan said it has provided 700,000 free EpiPens to schools and has given coupons to families who have trouble paying for the medication. However, officials said in a statement that they realize more needs to be done to help patients with high-deductible plans.

"With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise," company officials said in a statement. "This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost. This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve."

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Courtesy Hardison Family/NYU Langone Medical Center(NEW YORK) --  One year after undergoing the most extensive face transplant ever performed, which was covered by Nightline in an Emmy-nominated special edition, Pat Hardison continues to thrive.

“I’m happy to tell you that I’m doing great!” Hardison, 42, said at a press conference at NYU Langone Medical Center on Wednesday. “I like to say I’m still the same old Pat, but that would not give enough credit to the amazing journey I have gone through this past year.”

 Hardison, a former volunteer firefighter, was critically injured responding to a house fire on Sept. 5, 2001. The fire left him with severe burns that took his scalp, ears, eyelids, nose and lips. Without eyelids, Hardison was also slowly losing his vision.

Willing to take a chance to get his life back and feel normal again, Hardison underwent the face transplant surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. The procedure is so extreme and so risky that his doctors warned him he only had a 50-50 chance of surviving it.

 Since receiving his new face from a donor, Hardison said his eyelids and ability to blink have greatly improved his vision.

“My family and I took a trip to Disney World this past June -- and I swam in the pool with them. That’s something I had not done in 15 years!” Hardison said. “I now can, once again, drive a car, and I am able to sleep more soundly.”

 Hardison has had follow-up procedures, including surgery to remove his feeding and breathing tubes, which he no longer needs, and to adjust his new eyelids and lips.

He hopes to meet the family of his donor, David Rodebaugh, and a meeting is scheduled for this fall.

“I would like to thank my donor family, who made the difficult decision to donate to me during a very difficult time in their lives,” Hardison said.

Renown reconstructive surgeon Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who performed the transplant and is the chair of the hospital’s Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, said he’s amazed by Hardison’s recovery.

Hardison has not had an incident in which his body attempted to reject his new face, and the amount of daily medications he has to take has been reduced overtime mainly due to the fact that he has not had a rejection episode.

“We are amazed at Pat’s recovery, which has surpassed all of our expectations,” Rodriguez said in a press release. “Most significant is the lack of a rejection episode. We believe this has much to do with the methodical approach we took in the matching process to ensure that Patrick’s donor provided the most favorable match. Doing so also has allowed us to reduce the levels of certain medications that Pat takes to prevent rejection.”

“No more stares from strangers. I’m pretty much back to being a normal guy, doing normal activities,” Hardison said.

 After his accident during the rescue mission that left his face severely burned in 2001, Hardison said he thought he would never be the same again.

“It was terrible,” Hardison told Nightline in 2015, three months after the transplant. “I mean, I left home one day a normal dad, leaving to go to work, just a blonde-haired, blue-eyed -- that had everything going, I thought, and just like that everything changed drastically.”

In 2001, Hardison and his second wife Chrissi were raising their three children in his hometown of Senatobia, Mississippi. At 27, he was a charming, successful salesman who ran the family tire business, but his real passion was working with the local volunteer fire department where he was a captain.

“It was my way of life, that was what I did,” he said. “I didn’t do it to make a living, I did it because I loved it.... At this department it’s different. It’s not like a fire department that volunteers, we’re a brotherhood.”

Hardison said he doesn’t remember much of what happened after he and three of his fellow firefighters entered a burning building to look for a woman.

“[My mask] was melting to my face,” Hardison said. “My hose [was] already melted.”

He pulled the mask off, held his breath and closed his eyes, which doctors say saved his throat and lungs from smoke inhalation damage and from losing his vision. He doesn’t remember exactly how he managed to escape the inferno but by the time he got out, he was unrecognizable.

“There was nothing left of his face to tell you who he was,” Bricky Cole, one of Hardison’s friends and another volunteer firefighter on-scene that day, told Nightline in 2015.

His friends rushed to save Hardison’s life, but they didn’t realize who they were working on until he was being loaded into an ambulance.

Hardison spent 63 days at the hospital recovering from the burns, and when he got home, Hardison said his three children -- Alison, 6, Dalton, 3, and Averi, 2 -- were terrified of him.

Even though Chrissi and the children learned to accept his scars, seeing their reactions was devastating for Hardison. He underwent more than 70 surgeries over the next decade to try to rebuild his mouth, nose and eyelids using skin grafts. He even got implants to help anchor prosthetic ears.

“There were no moments of hope,” Chrissi Hardison told Nightline in 2015. “I remember talking to the doctors and thinking I had to allow myself to accept that he would not look the way he did before. ... Every time he would go back for surgery, I would think, ‘He’ll probably come out and look maybe like he did before.’ I had no clue, no concept of how severe it was even months into it.”

But each surgery only resulted in minor improvements. Unable to have what he really wanted -- his old life back -- Hardison spiraled into depression.

The cycle of surgery and painful recovery took a heavy toll on Hardison and his family, including Chrissi, who was caring for him at home. Even though they had two more kids after the accident, their marriage was strained, and for a time, Hardison became withdrawn and was addicted to pain medication. After 10 years of marriage, he and Chrissi divorced.

Later, Hardison started to consider an option that had only recently been demonstrated to be possible: a face transplant.

At the urging of a friend, Hardison sent his medical records to Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a pioneering reconstructive surgeon who had just completed the most extensive face transplant ever performed to date, replacing the face, jaw and tongue of a man severely disfigured by a shotgun blast. The 2012 surgery had been a success and Rodriguez was looking for his next patient.

In 2012, Rodriguez and his team began the process of vetting not just Hardison, but his family, friends and neighbors in Mississippi. Rodriguez wanted to make sure that Hardison fully understood the surgical risks, both the physical and psychological recovery, and that there was a possibility his body could reject the transplant and he could die. He also wanted to make sure Hardison was of good character and would be compliant with his post-surgery responsibilities, including medical appointments and daily medicine intake.

When the evaluations were finished, Rodriguez said he had found the perfect patient.

“Here's a guy with a huge personality who just wants to get to the solution,” Rodriguez told Nightline in 2015. “He's very gung-ho individual, you can see it. It's his nature and he was ready to sign whatever it took to move this thing along. For patients like that, which we do value, it's important for us to kind of slow the process down and ensure that they completely understand what they're getting into.”

 To move forward, they needed a donor, one that would fit very specific criteria. Not only were they looking for a donor that matched Hardison’s skin color, hair color and blood type, but the skeletal structure also had to be similar.

“The blood type obviously has to match,” Rodriguez said. “We didn't want any viruses. We're not looking for any patient that has significant exposures, I.V. drug use and the like. We also look at tattoos, not so much that tattoos are bad, but individuals that get numerous tattoos, we're concerned about contamination of any form. We're looking for a patient that has not had any malignancy and no facial injuries. We're looking at skeletal measurements we want them to match skeletally. We look at specific distances of their eyes or nose or mouth, the lips, so we're very specific in a face transplant.”

Hardison was placed on New York’s transplant donor list in Aug. 2014, and Rodriguez and his team began working closely with LiveOnNY, the organ procurement non-profit organization that matches organ donors with patients in and around New York City.

In July 2015, Hardison finally got the call he had hoped for, but it meant tragedy for another family.

David Rodebaugh, or Dave to his friends, loved bikes. He worked as a bike mechanic and was an accomplished BMX rider. When he moved to Brooklyn from Ohio a few years ago, he found a new family in the bike messenger community and with a group who call themselves the “Lock Foot Posi."

“It's like the old Christmas movie, the old Rudolph movie, where there's the Land of Misfit Toys,” said Al Lopez, who owns a bike messenger company called Cannonball Couriers and is one of Rodebaugh’s best friends. “And we're all kind of like misfits from somewhere. Wherever we came from for whatever reason we've united over bikes.... It doesn't really matter what you wear or how you ride you know like if you're like. If you're down and you're like on the bike and you're one of us.”

His friends said there wasn’t a trick Rodebaugh wouldn’t try or a bike he couldn’t fix, and he even won the Red Bull-sponsored Brooklyn MiniDrome cycling competition in 2014.

“Dave was a free spirit for sure and he loved what he loved,” Lopez said. “He loved bikes. He loved to go fast. He loved his friends, he loved this family. He loved adventure like, that was, that was Dave.”

 In July 2015, Rodebaugh was riding without a helmet in Brooklyn when he crashed and hit his head. A few weeks later, he was declared brain-dead at the hospital. He was 26 years old.

His friends honored him with a memorial ride over the Williamsburg Bridge, and when a representative with LiveOnNY approached his mother about donating his organs, she accepted.

When LiveOnNY president and CEO Helen Irving informed Rodriguez that she had a potential donor for the face transplant surgery, the blood, genes and other features underwent a series of tests. When it was determined that it looked like a viable match, Rodriguez called Hardison in Mississippi with the news.

“When you look at the facial skeleton ... they were only off by one or two millimeters,” he said.

On Aug. 14, 2015, Hardison was prepped for surgery and wheeled into one operating room, while the donor was wheeled into an adjacent room. Before starting, the surgical team held a moment of silence to honor Rodebaugh.

In a carefully coordinated surgery, Rodriguez slowly removed the donor’s face and scalp, including the outer skin, tissue, nerves and muscle, as the surgical team next door worked to remove the skin on Hardison’s face. With each step, Rodriguez updated the surgical team working on Hardison so that the two teams would remain in sync, and then they placed the donor face on Hardison. Among the trickiest parts of the surgery, Rodriguez said, was connecting the blood vessels.

“We got one chance to align to basically land this on the moon perfectly,” Rodriguez said.

In total, the surgery took 26 hours to finish. Rodebaugh’s heart, liver and kidneys were also donated, along with his corneas, bone and skin tissue.

 Nine days after the surgery, Hardison was doing well, and he looked at himself in the mirror for the first time. His forehead and cheekbones began adding shape to his face, but he had to start the process of re-learning how to speak and swallow, two functions severely affected by the surgery.

Today, Hardison says the surgery has given him back his life. Hardison continues to share his story in the hopes that others with similar injuries may one day consider the possibility of a face transplant.

“I’m here today because I want others to see that there is hope beyond the scars of injury. I am especially proud to share my story with other injured firefighters and first responders, as well as injured members of the Armed Services,” Hardison said on Wednesday. “If sharing my story helps just one person explore the possibility of a face transplant, then it’s been worth it.”

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Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- The Baltimorean who was the first U.S. child to receive a double-hand transplant celebrated the anniversary of his life-changing surgery this week.

Zion Harvey, 9, went back to visit his doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia this week, a year after undergoing the breakthrough surgery. Zion lost his hands and feet after contracting a life-threatening infection as a toddler.

Though he had learned to cope, doctors wanted to give him a permanent solution, making him the youngest U.S. patient to get a double-hand transplant in an operation that took 10 hours.

Zion and his doctors recounted his recovery this week, marveling at how far he has come in being able to use his new hands.

Immediately after the surgery, Zion spent a month in the hospital as doctors tried to get him used to his new hands. Dr. L. Scott Levin, director of the Hand Transplantation Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the boy never lost his charm or sense of humor despite the grueling therapy and rehabilitation.

"I think from an emotional standpoint he remains a remarkable young man," Levin said in a hospital video released Tuesday. "There's never been one iota of resistance or, ‘I don't feel like it today.’"

The video also shows how Zion progressed quickly, despite hurdles in his recovery. He soon was able to pick up toys and even start using scissors within months of his surgery.

Since he lost his hands at age 2, he had had little practice with how to actually use them.

"For six years of his life that part of his brain was asleep," Levin pointed out.

Levin told ABC News in December that doctors did have to recalibrate his drug regimen to better augment the immune suppressant drugs he takes for his hand transplants and because of a previous kidney transplant. But the setbacks didn't keep Zion from gaining new function with his hands.

He was able to write a Christmas wish-list in time for the holidays and even do some arm-wrestling, Levin told ABC News.

"I [was] with him last night and while at a restaurant dinner table...he was able to pick up his bread and butter and eat it," Levin said in December. "The point is we’re seeing continued functional improvement."

Although he's just 9, Zion is already hoping that his story will help other kids who’re struggling with health problems or other difficulties.

"I got one left hand and one right hand and they can always help me when I fall down," he said in the video. "There's one thing, if any kid is watching this and you're going through a rough time, never give up on what you're doing. You'll get there eventually."

At a news conference Tuesday, Zion did bring up an activity he still hasn’t been able to do: play football.

"She won't let me try out for football," Zion, who has prosthetic feet, told reporters, referring to his mother.

When she said he could play baseball and not football, the pint-size Zion piped up, "Why not?"

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The ongoing violence in Syria has taken a physical and mental toll on many, including one 9-year-old boy, who began to look up "ways to commit suicide" online, according to Dr. Hussam Jefee-Bahloul, who assisted with his care.

The boy, along with his family, are Syrians. They fled the violence and destruction of the ongoing Syrian crisis to find some semblance of safety in a Jordanian refugee camp.

Growing up, "Adam" (Jefee-Bahloul identifies the boy as Adam for his safety) had been irritable and nervous even before the crisis, but when the violence started, his mental health started to deteriorate further. Even in the refugee camp, hearing about the violence kept the boy agitated.

"While being seen and treated with some medications, he developed adverse reactions and got more restless," Jefee-Bahloul said of Adam. He "started to become preoccupied with one idea: the Free Syrian Army and fighting in Syria, talking about being bored and wanting to die."

A mental health worker in the field was trying to help Adam, but the boy's symptoms of distress persisted. The mental health worker reached out to Jefee-Bahloul for advice, even though he was thousands of miles away in Connecticut.

"The field psychiatrist was the only provider that the family can seek in Jordan given the nature of their displacement, and lack of access to care," Jefee-Bahloul explained. After the consult, "the field psychiatrist provided medication adjustment."

A Yale professor of psychiatry, Jefee-Bahloul, along with his colleague Dr. Andre Barkil-Oteo, were moved by Syrian survivors such as Adam. Jefee-Bahloul said it was the boy who in part pushed him to want to do more to help bring mental health aid to both refugees of the Syrian crisis and those who are still living amid the violence and uncertainty in the country.

In 2013, Jefee-Bahloul, along with his colleague Dr. Andre Barkil-Oteo, both of Syrian descent, started a new program called Syrian Telemental Health Network with the goal of reaching those affected by the Syrian crisis. The network uses an online referral program to connect doctors and mental health providers in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey with a global network of specialists willing to provide services for free to those in need.

Jefee-Bahloul pointed out help is needed as most of the field mental health workers, who are treating some of the most traumatized patients, lack an advanced degree or medical degree. The ongoing crisis in Syria has left millions of people devastated, not just physically, but also mentally. Both adults and children are forced to grapple with terror, violence and death.

“The need for these services was clear after talking to many clinicians on the ground who do not have a lot of mental health training and who have almost no supervision,” he said. “We now provide tertiary care--meaning indirect consultations--on highly complex cases that are being taken care of in refugee clinics in Syria and around its borders.”

Their technology is designed to use an encrypted and safe online referral system to connect doctors in North America, Europe and parts of the Middle East to clinicians working in Syria and its neighboring countries. The data is encrypted to protect the safety of clinicians and patients, especially the mental health workers trying to help the 4.8 million refugees resulting from Syria’s conflict.

They both realized that with their specializations in global health they could improve the lives of individuals who deal with the effects of the massive humanitarian crisis.

"It is hard to estimate how many patients are benefiting from this service," Jefee-Bahloul said. "In the last 18 months, the network completed supervision [for] more than 100 complex clinical cases."

Experts conducting mental health research emphasize the need for providing mental health support around the world, especially in Syria and its bordering countries that have been scarred by years of violence.

“There is evidence that when given the right training and excellent training structure with a focus on job development, people with less intensive training can provide appropriate services,” Theresa Betancourt, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, explained.

She told ABC News that the work of the network seems promising especially because it links specialists who can train and educate field workers. She said the biggest issue with situations like the one in Syria is addressing the idea of how to “sustainably strengthen the mental health system in countries that are taking on most of the burden."

Jefee-Bahloul's partner Barkil-Oteo said the Internet has been a key tool for sharing needed information across country lines.

“This is a growing trend,” Barkil-Oteo said of telemedicine. “There are many new initiatives that try to use technology to train medical students and doctors. Aleppo University has started a new medical school and their plan is to rely heavily on online lectures.”

The doctors have little aid as they try to keep up with the increasing numbers of patients in need of mental health services, while dealing with attacks on the facilities they work in. All of the mental health referrers have at one time themselves been forced to relocate from their homes. About four of the nine Syrian clinics the network works with have been targeted for attacks and forced to relocate.

This new form of medical education comes in the wake of the destruction of multiple Syrian medical institutions during the past few years. Most of the medical students who were in the process of receiving their training at the onset of the crisis have been left with an unfinished degree.

“Just last weekend, at least three hospitals in Aleppo were bombed,” noted Barkil-Oteo.

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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and just can’t fall back to sleep?

For isolated incidents of late night/early morning insomnia, you may be surprised to hear my advice: Do nothing. Don’t sleep late the next day, don’t take a power nap -- just go about your normal schedule.

Many of us will suffer an occasional bout of insomnia, which is generally caused by mental stress, and will feel the inclination to make up for lost sleep the next day or next several days.

But the latest in sleep medicine suggests that this can do more harm than good. It may disrupt the circadian rhythms and make it harder for you to resume your normal sleep schedule.

So be consistent with your bedtime and your wakeup time, and chances are good you’ll be back to sweet dreams soon.

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File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(NEW YORK) -- In a rare occurrence, a South African same-sex couple has welcomed triplets, which include identical twins, via surrogacy.

The couple, Christo and Theo Menelaou, both share biological fatherhood to the babies, since sperm was used from both parents, they said.

"It's the biggest joy having [these] babies," Christo Menelaou told ABC News Tuesday. "Hard work, but so rewarding."

Christo and Theo have been together for over nine years and married for four. The two men have wanted children for a while now, Christo said.

"We were strongly advised by the social worker that our chances of succeeding in getting an adoption was very small, considering there was a large demand for people wanting children," he added. "They'd almost have a much better chance than us because they were not same-sex couples. If you're same-sex, it's a mission."

Christo and Theo were able to choose a profile for an egg donor and found a surrogate to carry their children. But 11 weeks into the pregnancy, sonographer Heidi Richter discovered one of the embryos had split and the mother was now carrying triplets, with two being identical twins, Christo said.

On July 2, Joshua, 4 pounds, Zoe, 3.1 pounds, and Kate, 2.9 pounds, were born in that order at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg.

The Menelaous have daytime and nighttime nurses to help care for their triplets.

“On weekends, it’s Daddy and Daddy’s problem though,” Christo said, laughing.

Zoe and Kate are identical twins.

Dr. Heidra Dahms, the obstetrician who delivered the Menelaou triplets, said this occurrence was extremely rare, according to Christo.

Dahms and Netcare Sunninghill Hospital did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The Guinness Book of World Records told ABC News that they currently do not recognize the record title of the first male, gay couple in the world to be fathers to triplets (with identical twins), but are currently researching.

As for being parents, new dad Christo, who works in construction, said they're enjoying every moment.

"[We are] more than thrilled," he said. "When it's going rough on my building sites and all is hectic, I just think of our babies and all is well."

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