May 29, 2009
Posted: 10:08 AM ET
News Correspondent Richard Lui
Eric De La Cruz is just one of the more than 100,000 people waiting to get an organ. According to the government, 18 of them will die today waiting. This number has only grown in recent decades as donors and funding remain low.
Do you twitter? Impressed that it's now a healthcare tool?
Eric was already in need of a heart. Three IV’s are keeping him stable. Despite his dire condition, he can’t get on the national donor list.
He has two options to get on the list.
His first option is through his state’s program. But because he has Nevada Medicaid and Nevada has no transplant centers, he has been turned down from getting on the list.
His second option to get on the list is to go to another state like California where there are transplant centers. He would have to move his case there with support under the federal Medicare Disability program. He was rejected twice, and his next appeal hearing is in a year. The family says he doesn’t have that kind of time.
Another issue, Eric’s family says they’re required to have $150,000 in the bank as a down payment to get on the list. The operation is estimated to cost at least $800,000. Eric’s family had managed to raise only $6,000 as of two weeks ago.
So, as daunting as his situation sounds, his family, understandably, is not giving up. They have gone public to try to put a solution together. His sister Veronica De La Cruz, a former employee of CNN, has ignited a grassroots effort through her Twitter account at @VeronicaDLCruz.
The Twitter conversation has raised not only local interest with reports from KNTV and KLAS in Nevada, but celebrities are also taking notice, including Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor. Reznor posted a request on the band’s website to give special backstage access if they donate to Eric’s fund. <a href="http://store.nin.com/helperic/ In five hours, it raised some $220,000 according to Eric’s sister.
One week later, over $850,000 was raised. Reznor says there was so much interest, he had to stop his offer of VIP access at North American concerts because there was no more room. With that amount, part of the family’s dream could now be answered with enough money to pay for the operation.
Reznor is not the only Hollywood name to lend his support on Eric’s sister’s Twitter account. There’s also Collective Soul, Demi Moore, Kelly Clarkson, Star Jones, Al Roker, and Alyssa Milano.
This case has brought attention to the national health care debate, as well as local attention, as Eric’s family pushes U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Nevada’s governor, and other politicians, to try to help cobble together a solution for Eric and so many others who are caught in a similar situation across the country.
What do you think the solution is? What does this say about health care red tape? Should it be up to each family to raise these funds in such cases? And where does Twitter fit in all of this—should the national donor list incorporate more alternative awareness tools such as social media to gain support for the numerous “Erics” that are out there?
Join in the conversation; leave your comments below.
May 20, 2009
Posted: 11:04 AM ET
This week we've been following s story about a thirteen-year-old boy, Daniel Hauser, diagnosed with cancer, who, along with his mother, decided to refuse chemotherapy.
Daniel Hauser responded well to a first round of chemo, then disappeared with his mother.
A Minnesota judge scheduled a court hearing to review an X-ray and assess whether the boy's Hodgkin's lymphoma was worsening.
Daniel and his mother did not attend the hearing, and the judge issued an arrest warrant. District Judge John R. Rodenberg of Brown County, Minnesota, said that the boy's "best interests" require him to receive medical care. His family opposes the proposed course of treatment, which includes chemotherapy.
"It is imperative that Daniel receive the attention of an oncologist as soon as possible," the judge wrote.
Daniel and his mother, however, are nowhere to be found.
We want to know what you think. Does the Hauser family have the right to refuse treatment for their 13-year-old son? Does the judge have the right to impose treatment? Morning Express viewers sent us their thoughts via text message, many of which are included below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments field.
- While I feel the parents are wrong in the treatment, I have to side with them vs. the courts. It's their right to refuse. – Ray in Kentucky
- It's up to the parent. The government is just becoming more and more totalitarian, and this proves it. – Mike Sz
- Mom and son should decide, depending how advanced it is. Doctors save lives, but if the quality of life is so low, it should be the patient's choice.
- The thirteen-year-old boy should be able to decide his own treatment. It's his body, no one else's. – Lea in Maryland
- I think the mother should choose because she is his mom and knows him better than anyone.
- I believe they should let them reject treatment. Just because they are different we should not punish them. – Saul
- I think the boy should listen to the doctors because they went to schooling for many years and know what they're talking about. – Leanna
- The mother should definitely be able to decide the care for her child, not the government. – Steve in Virginia
- My husband and I have 8 children and 5 grandchildren and I cannot imagine letting them suffer through cancer. My mother is a 26-year cancer survivor.
- I could understand running with my child if he was terminal. She should be grateful that he has a type of cancer that is curable. – Joy Graziano
- Parents should have the only say in medical treatment. Not government. I worked in medicine for 25 years..
- At 13 with learning disabilities, I believe it's parental neglect. As a survivor
- I feel mom has the right to treat as they wish. But this is a treatable cancer so should she keep him away from treatment, knowing he will get better?
- Allowing this mom to deny chemo will open the floodgates for other parents to deny their children necessary medical help, okaying a degree of neglect.
- The government requires children to get shots. They sure require this treatment too! – Andrew in Florida
- Parents are allowed to decline vaccinations due to religious reasons, placing not only their children but others in danger. What's the difference?
- Wow, I know I will never have chemo again or ask any one I love to have it.
- This is America; each person should have a chance to decide what he or she wants. I'm with the mom. – Dieter in Tennessee
- It's a tragic situation but other people including judges should not force their opinions on anyone. It's not illegal to find alternate treatment. – Nathan in New Jersey
- The decision should be left to the doctors. They are in that profession for a reason; they are the ones that save lives. – Brittany in Sarasota, Florida
- The case is supposed to be about the child but the mother seems to be shifting the focus to herself. Hats off to the judge! – Meg in Conyers, Georgia
- Suffering through cancer IS a difficult ordeal but so is suffering through chemo. The parents and child are obviously aware enough to make their own decision.
- As the foster mom of a special needs child, I agree 100% to removing a child from home if they are not receiving the care they need. – Melissa in Fairmount, Georgia
- It should be the mother's decision especially if it's based on religious beliefs. – Stacy in Pensacola, Florida
- It is the parents choice. The court has no right to impose its view on this subject! – Chele in Alexandria, Virginia
- Unless there is some evidence of neglect or mental handicap, the courts need to stay out of personal medical decisions, it is his life and his choice.
- I think that in life threatening events, those with experience and sound judgment should make the decisions. - J. Satterlee in Pennsylvania
- As a nurse, I believe that the patient always has the right to choose their heath care; however when it's a child's life, advocates should step in! – Amy
- A precedent has already been established – you have to vaccinate your kids, put them in child car seats, etc. Child welfare is everyone's responsibility!
- After having 3 children I don't think a 13 can truly make a decision regarding life or death. – JWW Jocelyn in Chattanooga, Tennessee
- She needs to hit her knees and BEG GOD for forgiveness! My 15-year-old daughter (a cancer survivor) and I watched this, and she cried and prayed!
- Not everyone want to go through all the sickness that chemo brings. I think they should be able to choose what kind of treatment they want. – Teresa in Illinois
Posted: 06:45 AM ET
As a way to get the goods they want without shelling out big bucks, shoppers are turning to swapping as a way to keep their closets (and bookshelves, and gamerooms) stocked.
As the trend has gained popularity, swapping Web sites have cropped up for everything from books to music and games to clothes.
The Star Tribune interviewed Anneli Rufus, co-author of the book "The Scavengers' Manifesto," who explains that while people may have some reservations about swapping instead of buying, those reservations soon turn to a sense of satisfaction once people get what they want without paying any money.
Interested in doing some swapping of your own? You can check out websites like
Meetup.com – "Do something. Learn something. Share something. Change something"
Swaptree.com – "Swap books, trade CDs, DVDs and video games with other users for free."
Totswapshop.com – "An online marketplace for new and used children's goods"
Are you already a swapper? What are some of your favorite Web sites or ways to swap? Let us know in the comments field below.
May 19, 2009
Posted: 11:02 AM ET
Meteorologist Bob Van Dillen
Yes I'm torturing myself again, but this time it's for a great cause. It's called Team Challenge. I'm training for another half marathon for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation this July 19th in Napa, California.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable illnesses that attack the digestive system. Many patients require hospitalization and surgery. One point four million Americans suffer from Crohn's or colitis and as many as 150,000 of them are under the age of 18. My cousin suffers from Crohn's, so this is something that personally affects me.
I'm honored that the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation has made me the honorary Chairman for the Napa to Sonoma half marathon. This also means that I have to resume my running and weight lifting workouts. By nature, I am a hockey player. I'm used to quick bursts of energy, resting, more bursts. Running is a different animal all together. Each week until the race, I'll share with you guys my workout routine and how much my body has changed. I just ran the Atlanta ING half marathon in one hour 49 minutes, and I want to beat that time! I'm starting out on a bad note, however, with a slight tear in a muscle in my side. I was told I can run if I can stand the pain. Hey, I'm a tough guy (ha!), so I'll press through it. Plus, my wife is running the race, and she pushes me anyway.
My workout plan this week:
Next week it gets worse. I'll let you know how this week goes!
More about Team Challenge:
Most people go day-to-day not knowing when their disease will strike again. Team Challenge gives runners and walkers of all levels a chance to help get lives back on track. Participants train for a personally rewarding and exciting endurance event, while raising funds for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis research. For more information, click here.
Posted: 09:10 AM ET
President Obama will announce tough new fuel standards today, and they may end up costing you more money.
According to administration officials, Obama's proposed changes, along with the cost of already enacted fuel economy standards, will add about $1,300 to the cost of a vehicle by the year 2016.
However, the fuel efficiency regulations could make up for the cost in the money you'll save on gas.
Writer Lauren was kind enough to do the math for us.
- 10,0000 miles per year divided by 27.5 miles per gallon = 363.6
- Multiply that times today's average cost for gallon of gas: $2.31 x 363.6 = $840
- 10,0000 miles per year divided by new standard of 39 gallons = 256
- Multiply that times today's cost for a gallon of gas: $2.31 x 256 = $592
Under Obama's plan, in a passenger car that gets 39 miles per gallon, you'd get a 30% savings on the cost of gas for your car.
Is it worth it to you to spend a bit more on the initial cost of the car if you cut back on gas costs over time?
Let us know what you think in the comments field below!
May 18, 2009
Posted: 10:45 AM ET
Business Correspondent Jennifer Westhoven
Our team came across a great article today about a crop of websites that could help you save money and even earn a little bit too!
SmartMoney reports about the many new sites springing up to help people rent items – instead of buying them. This is great for items you know you are only going to use once or a few times – like jewelry for your wedding, a high-powered camera or a Nintendo Wii with guitar hero for a party!
There are all kinds of things that may be available for rent from someone in your neighborhood.
How about all the junk in your garage that you’re not quite ready to part with? You might be able to make a few extra dollars by renting out your stuff – maybe you have a power-washer or other tools someone might want to borrow.
There’s always some risk, but they do have policies to protect you.
May 15, 2009
Posted: 06:31 AM ET
Political Correspondent Richard Lui
They are the fixtures in Everytown, USA. They are the family businesses that have survived generations of economic hardship, but now they are closing en masse.
Chrysler hopes to close about 1,100 small car dealerships.
GM and Chrysler are starting to hand out pink slips to dealerships around the country. Chrysler is asking a court to let it drop more than 1,000 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers - about a quarter of its network - as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.
GM wants to close 42% of its 6,250 dealer locations, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers.
They're spread out between urban centers and small towns. What’s different this time around is dealer owners will not get treated like the Oldsmobile dealerships that closed before. They received some $2 billion in compensation for shuttering their doors. This time it will be simple handshakes and goodbyes because of Chapter 11 procedures, which allow the automakers to bypass franchise laws.
Chrysler and GM need to cut capacity though. Currently their dealer network can handle double the volume both carmakers currently have ready to sell. By reducing the number of dealers, they are reducing costs and the need to send cars to underperforming dealerships, some of which have not invested in their facilities in years because of lack of profits.
Dealer owners aren’t taking this sitting down. Yesterday, more than 100 of them met with House and Senate members who are on the President’s auto task force. They want them to step in and slow the reduction, so communities can gradually absorb the jobs being cut.
So how is this affecting your town?
What does it mean to see the family businesses that have around for decades succumb to the bad times?
Certainly it will mean the end of their sponsorships for little league teams, charities and churches and their leadership on local chambers of commerce. And bottom line, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be gone, and that’s not good for the country.
Tell us what you think here, and we’ll get your comment on air on Morning Express.
May 13, 2009
Posted: 12:06 PM ET
Yesterday, Donald Trump pronounced that Miss California, Carrie Prejean, will be allowed to keep her crown despite the fact that she violated terms of her pageant contract.
Prejean listens to Trumps decision.
These violations consisted of the emergence of topless photos of Prejean, which she previously denied existed, and the fact that pageant officials complained they couldn't reach Prejean and she had missed important pageant events.
We asked Morning Express viewers what they thought about Miss Prejean being allowed to keep her crown. What, we wondered, was Trump's reasoning in letting her keep her crown?
Below is a selection of their views, sent via text message. Share yours in the comments field below.
- Prejean is entitled to voice her opinion, but she broke her contract by not making public appearances & posing in photos. Take her crown! – Dan in Alexandria, Virginia
- What message is Trump sending? It's ok to lie and deceive as long as you're beautiful? – Denise in Florida
- I think she should keep the crown! Tara kept hers! Like he said it is all about 2nd chances! – Sinfully Additive
- Of course she gets to keep her crown. The controversy makes her a cash cow for Donald Trump and brings attention to the pageant. Why would he throw that away?
- If we're all punished for things we did in our past we might be in trouble! We have to be able to rise above those mistakes, go Miss California!
- My 13 year old competes in pageants that have stricter rules. What kind of message does that send to young ladies by letting her keep her crown? – Brandy in Alabama
- I don't agree with her views. I think it is hypocritical to go on about traditional values while posing semi-nude. However, she should keep her crown.
- No. What a shame and poor example and role model this is for our young ladies growing up.
- The Donald is absolutely right on this one. – Walt D.
- I think its time to leave miss California alone. She never should have been asked a question like that anyway. I'm proud of the answer she gave. – Ashley, Tennessee
- Does anyone really care what happens 2 Carrie? She's a beauty pageant contestant; no one cares if she has a brain. We were all loud & stupid at that age!
- She wore a very revealing bikini in the contest. Why punish her for removing the last two inches? – Steve in Vermont
- Media: Enough attention for the outdated beauty pageant! Let's turn the global eye to issues of substance like hunger or health care. – Karen in Ohio
- Miss California broke the rules, she should have lost the crown. That simple. Its a bad message for future contestants. – Justin
- I am glad that she gets to keep her crown. We make mistakes. Were only human. She deserves the crown after what she had to go through.
- A beautiful face can save a girl from a lot of trouble but the rules are clear and she should not keep the crown. – Dan in Connecticut
- I wonder when regular people break a contract with Trump if they get away with just a slap on the wrist. I highly doubt it; she knew the rules. – Kris in Texas
- Of course she should keep her crown!! She has the same rights (or should) as anyone else. I fully support her views too. You Go Girl!! Don't back down!
- I don't care how she answered a question. I don't see how she's representing ALL California anymore now being a spokeswoman for "traditional marriages". – Molly in Michigan
- I disagree because the pictures are a negative mark on the Miss California and Miss USA pageants. – Gregory in Maine
- Would any issue with Miss California's photos have even come up if she'd stood up there and supported marriage for all?
- Opinions don't 'trump' facts. Pageant rules should be clear – either she broke them or not! If rules are compromised, the Miss USA pageant loses credibility.
May 12, 2009
Posted: 08:27 AM ET
News Correspondent Richard Lui
We don’t expect to hear about soldiers killing fellow soldiers. They treat each other like family. The story of a soldier suspected of opening fire on fellow soldiers at near Baghdad on Monday was shocking and horrific. It was probably a lightning bolt that ran through the minds of mothers, brothers, and friends of troops abroad. Are they ok?
Yesterday’s losses were at a stress clinic at Camp Liberty, the largest of U.S. camps in Baghdad, capable of holding thousands of troops at a time. Global Security says it has a chapel, PX shoppette, barber shop, Internet cafe, gym and more. It is a small city within a city, a home away from home, that yesterday was turned upside down.
In the past, on-site mental health facilities were not robust. Now the military has stress clinics that treat troops while they’re close to the frontline. That is where the gunman was going for treatment. But some question if mental injury treatment capabilities are enough not only on the frontline, but also when they return to civilian life in the U.S.
A recent study illustrates just how widespread mental health issues are among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It found one in five veterans have symptoms of PTSD or depression. And the Army says there were a record number of troop suicides in 2008.
Critics point to the number of tours of duty. Many reservists are on their third or fourth. Each time, troops are exposed troops to a possible mental injury, says Paul Rieckhoff of the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America. The gunman in this case was on his third tour. Rieckhoff points to the family unit too—though they are not on the frontline they get deployed emotionally, especially as economic stress hits hard at home for many.
When we hear this, many of us want to help. We want to reach out, and we want to help make it better and easier for the servicemen and women. When you see them in airports across our country, they are so valiant, yet always seem so calm. For some, it may be quite the opposite. So what do you think of what happened at Camp Liberty? How does it make you feel? What more can we do to help troops? We appreciate your thoughts, so please post them here, and we will share as many as we can on Morning Express.
Posted: 06:18 AM ET
By Writer Keith
So in four weeks or, if my wife had her way, tomorrow my baby daughter will make her debut into the world. Just to set the record straight since there are so many rumors going around: my wife and I conceived our child naturally. We did not use the same woman’s fertility drugs as Manny Ramirez, or as many of us call him now “Octo-Manny.” As for right now, we are as ready as we can be.
I don't want this face to be one of the first my baby sees.
Since I last updated the blog, we have had two baby showers. One with my family in Boston, one with my wife’s family here in Atlanta. For those guys out there who may be expecting a kid soon, a word of advice: AVOID THE SHOWER AT ALL COSTS! Go somewhere else, do something else. I stayed for the beginning, shook hands, thanked people for coming, then got the heck out of Dodge.
I mean I honestly considered paying money to watch “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” to escape. It’s not a rational time. There’s quiche involved, ribbons, flowers, lots of oohing and ahhing over everything. At the one here in Atlanta, they played a game where the women had hairpins on ribbons and if you said the word “baby” you lost a hairpin. Check please! We got a lot of great things from both families, and I truly appreciate the efforts and the help, but my time was spent beating my brother-in-law Kyle in Madden then coming back later and loading up the truck.
But thanks to these showers we are starting to run out of room in the house. My daughter already has more clothes than me. This is not a good sign because her mother is a clothes horse too. Our biggest concern with the clothes is if the ultra-sounds were wrong and we are having a boy. That’s a lot of pink outfits for a boy.
We also have all of the bouncy seats, playmats, pack and plays, and travel systems we can handle. You may look at Consumer Reports for safety and customer satisfaction for these things. I look for which baby on the box looks like they are having a better time. Big smile on the kid, we’re getting it.
On the “how healthy is the baby” front, everything has been quiet…which is good. Everything is going to plan. My wife has been having some aches, pains and swelling but her doctors say it’s normal. My main concern is that she works on the 17th floor of an office building. I’d prefer she take the stairs up to work, but she insists on using the elevator. I am not a sadists but I have seen enough teen comedies/dramas on TV to fear that my kid will be delivered by some random teenager in an elevator. I don’t want Zack Morris delivering my kid. Brandon Walsh maybe, but not Zack Morris.
Speaking of health, we got quite a special gift from my brother Danny during the Boston shower. My brother gave my baby one of those special “Build-A-Bears” you can get at most any malls. It’s a pink and white bear that is decked out in a New England Patriots cheerleader outfit. When he was building the bear, he had to take the bears “heart”, rub it on his chest and make a wish. He wished that the baby came out healthy. It may sound corny to you, but it meant a lot to us. Hopefully our daughter grows up to appreciate it.
Now we have to pack the overnight bag for the hospital and what we are planning to do when we get there. My wife is treating me like a bouncer. When she is finally ready to “download our tricycle motor” she only wants me and the medical staff in the room. I’m not saying I’m going to have to physically toss people out of the room, but I am buying those velvet ropes they have outside of nightclubs. I have a list, a suit, and I am trying to lift enough weights that I won’t have a neck.
So that’s it for now. My next “baby blog” will probably be about the arrival. Wish us luck.
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