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10 Uplifting Stories To Get You Through The Week (6/16/19)

by Radu Alexander
fact checked by Jamie Frater

As the end of the week approaches, here is the list that aims to put a few smiles on faces. If you want to have a more quizzical expression first, check out the offbeat list, too.

This week, we look at a wartime love story with a happy ending, a skydiving great-grandma, and a potentially game-changing medical breakthrough. There are also two stories involving lawn-mowing good Samaritans.

10 It’s Never Too Late To Donate

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After donating his kidney to his neighbor, 84-year-old Frank Dewhurst from Austin, Texas, became the oldest living kidney donor in the United States.

Linda Nall has had lupus since 1986. In recent years, her condition has become worse and she had to start dialysis. The average survival time for a septuagenarian on dialysis is roughly five years, which is about the same as the waiting time for a new kidney in Texas. Therefore, Linda decided to be more proactive. She made signs saying that she needed a kidney and placed them on her car and in her yard.

Late last year, Frank was walking through the neighborhood when he saw Linda’s sign. He remembered an article about a few golfing buddies in their sixties who had donated a kidney to one of their friends. He thought that if they could do it, why couldn’t he?

Frank got tested and was found to be in good condition. His kidney function had not suffered a significant decline as is typical for people his age. He donated the kidney to Linda, and, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, he beat the previous oldest living kidney donor by 85 days.[1]

9 Lawn And Order

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Police officer Matt Siltala from Orono, Minnesota, did his good deed for the day when he took some time off to mow the lawn of an elderly resident.

Siltala and his partner, Officer Jay McCoy, responded to a call to check on the welfare of an elderly resident. She was okay, but the police officer noticed that her front yard was overgrown because she didn’t have anyone to cut it for her. Not one to shy away from a little manual labor, Siltala grabbed a mower and went to work.

Officer McCoy snapped a photo of his partner serving the community. Someone else from the Orono Police Department later posted it online, also joking that McCoy should have grabbed the trimmer instead of just sitting there.[2]

There was a lot of praise for Siltala for going beyond the call of duty, but there were also multiple inquiries from other people willing to help out the elderly resident in the future.

8 Turning A Negative Into A Positive

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English rock band Radiohead foiled an attempted blackmail scheme by releasing the stolen music themselves and donating the profits to charity.

Last week, hackers absconded with 18 hours of music recorded by the band while making its 1997 masterpiece OK Computer. Then they started selling the individual tracks for $50–$800, depending on their length. They wanted $150,000 to return the entire archive.

At the moment, the band members do not know who was behind the leak, although they do know that it originated from the digital “minidisk archive” of singer Thom Yorke. Instead of paying any money to the hackers, though, Radiohead decided to just underbid them and made the entire archive available for just £18. It will only be available for a few weeks, but all profits will be donated to environmental movement Extinction Rebellion.[3]

7 Chief For A Day

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The good news keeps on coming for 10-year-old Blake Hegner from Cincinnati, Ohio. First, he beat cancer, and then he lived out his dream of becoming police chief for a day.

Blake has been fighting leukemia for the past three years and recently found out that he is in remission. In celebration, the Matt Haverkamp Foundation Fundraiser and the “Light the Night” for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Cincinnati banded together to create an unforgettable experience for the young man. On Tuesday morning, Lieutenant Steve Saunders swore Matt in as the city’s new police chief.

Saunders said that arranging the experience was a “no-brainer” and a “win-win” which, hopefully, will help break down the barriers between Cincinnati’s police department and the community.[4]

6 A Wartime Romance Rekindled

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A love story 75 years in the making finally had a happy ending as a US soldier was reunited with the French woman with whom he fell in love during World War II.

In 1944, K.T. Robbins was shipped overseas to fight in the war. He was stationed in the French commune of Briey when he met and fell in love with an 18-year-old girl named Jeannine Pierson nee Ganaye. Their romance was short-lived because Robbins had to hurriedly leave for the Eastern Front two months later. The two parted ways wondering if they would ever see each other again.

The soldier returned to the US after the war, and neither one was able to travel to find the other. Eventually, they each married someone else and started new families, although both are now widowed. Even so, for 75 years, Robbins held on to a photograph of the one that got away.

Last week, he traveled to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Leading up to that, he showed Jeannine’s photograph to a few French journalists and said that he would like to find her family. As he made his way there, the journalists had a surprise for Robbins: They had located Jeannine, and she was waiting for him.[5]

The two had a passionate reunion. Again, their meeting was cut short as Robbins had to leave for the D-Day ceremony. But this time, they don’t plan on waiting another 75 years before seeing each other again.

5 Firehouse Baby

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Chicago firefighters had to contend with a unique situation. They had to deliver a baby after a mother in labor stopped in front of their fire station.

Things started out normally on Tuesday morning for Engine 14 in the River West neighborhood of the city. However, they quickly took a turn when a vehicle pulled up with a pregnant woman in the back seat. A friend of the mother-to-be was driving her to the hospital, but the baby decided it didn’t want to wait around anymore. With the birth imminent, the firefighters jumped into action.[6]

Fortunately, the firehouse was led by Captain Barbara Ohse who used to work as a nurse and had three kids of her own. The delivery went smoothly, and EMTs soon arrived on the scene. Mother and baby were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and an update said that both are doing fine.

4 Mowing Lawns Across the USA

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Rodney Smith Jr. has recently finished his fifth visit to all 50 US states. He travels around the country, offering free lawn mowing services for people who cannot do it on their own.

A resident of Huntsville, Alabama, Smith started the Raising Men Lawn Care Service. He operates it mostly through social media. Smith announces where he is traveling next by taking a photo of the state sign and posting it online.

Then the requests start pouring in from people in need. Usually, they come from disabled people or single mothers. This time around, Smith focused his help on military veterans.[7]

The 29-year-old set off on his latest “tour” on May 5. His traveling expenses are covered by donations. This time, Delta Airlines even offered to sponsor his last two trips to Alaska and Hawaii.

Smith also has a program which encourages kids to mow lawns in their neighborhoods in exchange for T-shirts, ear and eye protection, and new equipment.

As for the future, Smith plans to take his service global and do a seven-continent tour. When asked what lawns he would mow in Antarctica, he specified that he also shovels snow.

3 Fluffy Buddies

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Alex Walker might only be seven years old, but she learned early on that hospitals can be bleak places for kids. That is why she took it upon herself to cheer up other young patients with the help of a few fluffy friends.

As a baby, Alex was diagnosed with epilepsy and had to spend plenty of time in a hospital room. Her trusted stuffed companion, Sky Bear, was always by her side.

One time, she saw other kids in the pediatric wing without any toys. She wanted to gift them some of her stuffed animals, but her mother said that the toys had to be new. So she used her Chuck E. Cheese money and bought some teddy bears.

That is how “Alex’s Fluffy Buddies” came to be. In a little over a year, she raised $22,000 and bought toys to cheer up kids in hospitals. She made her most recent delivery this Tuesday as she roamed the hallways of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital with a wagon bigger than her that was filled to the brim with stuffed toys.[8]

Alex’s current goal is to deliver 100,000 teddy bears.

2 Skydiving For A Good Cause

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A great-grandma from Eagle Creek, Oregon, took to the skies last Sunday and jumped out of an airplane to help raise money for a veterans’ charity.

Shirley Romig might be 73 years old, but she recently discovered that she likes skydiving. She also enjoys raising funds for a nonprofit called Paws Assisting Veterans which provides service dogs for former servicemen and women in need. Therefore, she put the two together and started making sponsored skydives.

Her latest jump took place last Sunday at Beaver Oaks Airport. Her mother, daughter, and great-granddaughter were all in attendance to see Shirley in action. The septuagenarian skydiver raised money to purchase a service dog for disabled vet Ralph Hatley. According to Romig, this is “a risk she’s willing to take any day” as long as it helps the people who served.[9]

1 Game Changer For Blood Transfusions

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A new study published in Nature Microbiology says that researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, have found enzymes that can convert type A blood into universal type O.

Hospitals could always use more blood because transfusions are necessary for a wide range of medical procedures. There are four groups of blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Each patient must be given his own blood type.

These classes are determined by sugar molecules called blood antigens, but type O is a special case. Known as the “universal” blood type, it lacks these antigens and can be safely transfused into any person.

Obviously, this makes O the most valuable and sought-after blood type. It is especially useful in emergency rooms where medical staff often lack the time or capabilities to ascertain a patient’s blood type.

For years, scientists have looked for ways of turning one blood type into another. They tried using enzymes to remove the sugar molecules that define type A blood so that it would become universal. They had limited success, but nothing that could be viably put into practice.

A team from UBC led by Stephen Withers began looking for other enzymes in human gut bacteria. They tested a multitude of them to see if any produce proteins that remove A-defining sugars.

They weren’t successful at first, but then they tried combining two enzymes from the Flavonifractor plautii bacterium with excellent results. The method was later confirmed to work on human blood, turning type A to type O.[10]

More work is needed to ensure that the enzymes didn’t alter anything else in the red blood cells. But this advancement could potentially double the amount of universal blood available.

Read more uplifting stories you might have missed from June 9, 2019, and June 2, 2019.

fact checked by Jamie Frater