Polish Children’s Hospital

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FRIENDS IN NEED, FRIEND IN DEED

BYLINE: DAWN SHURMAITIS For the Times Leader

Talk about an interesting dilemma.

Tom Pugh needed to board a Polish National airline bound for Warsaw, a trip he’s made numerous times in the last 10 or so years. Only this time, he was lugging 50 pounds of liquid children’s Tylenol.

What to do? Does he notify security and risk losing the precious cargo, which he’s taking to Poland’s Litewska Children’s Hospital? Luckily, his son Matthew came up with an idea: Put the medicine in an ordinary Nike gym bag and go for broke. Read the rest…

Medical Marijuana: The Power of Pot

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DAWN SHURMAITIS

He couldn’t stand to watch his mother suffer.

So he turned the law-abiding housewife into an illegal drug user.

He did it out of love, and desperation.

The drugs prescribed by his mother’s doctor did little to relieve the pain
caused by her cancer, which transformed the once-robust miner’s wife into a
bedridden skeleton. Read the rest…

Agent Orange

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Friday, December 30, 1994

By DAWN SHURMAITIS; Times Leader Staff Writer

Agent Orange sufferer Mike Milne received his last check from a
multi-million dollar compensation fund last year.

He used the $512 to buy trees.
“It’s better than nothing,” said Milne, who served in the U.S. Army
infantry in the Mekong Delta from 1967-69.

Milne got the money from the fund because he was exposed to Agent Orange, a
toxic, vegetation-killing chemical the U.S. government sprayed in Vietnam
to make it difficult for enemy soldiers to hide and find food. Read the rest…

Premature Baby: Fighter Ahead of His Time

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By DAWN SHURMAITIS; Times Leader Staff Writer

PITTSTON — Baby Byrd didn’t look real — let alone alive.

Maybe it was his size, hardly larger than a pound of butter and just as
soft. Maybe it was the spaghetti maze of probes and wires piercing his
pinky-sized arms and legs.

Maybe it was the life-lines pumping air into his barely formed lungs and
nutrients into his tiny stomach.

That was Eddie Byrd, dressed in the only things that would fit — doll
clothes. Read the rest…

Medical Discount Cards: Big Dose of Confusion

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Wilkes-Barre Times LeaderJune 6, 2004 Sunday MAIN EDITION

BYLINE: DAWN SHURMAITIS Special to the Times Leader

Armed with slides and handouts, simple language and great patience, Joe Giebus and Anne Rappaport face an anxious crowd of seniors eager for easy answers on the new discount drug program.

But when the Area Agency on Aging representatives finish their 30-minute spiel, they’re met with blank faces and raised hands. Reactions range from “I’ll never understand it” to “It takes a lawyer to figure this out.”

Whether they’re in Nanticoke, Hazleton, Pittston or Tunkhannock, Giebus and Rappaport continually confront the same dilemma: explaining the nearly unexplainable. Read the rest…

Heart-Lung Transplant: A Man Doubly Blessed

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Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

July 25, 2004 Sunday MAIN EDITION

BYLINE: DAWN SHURMAITIS Special to the Times Leader

Death wasn’t just knocking at Dan Decker’s door. It had already come inside and sat down for coffee.

The Wilkes-Barre resident was in intensive care at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital awaiting not one, but two organs for transplant: a kidney and a heart. His weight, a once robust 250 pounds, had plummeted to 140.

Extremely malnourished and on kidney dialysis, his failing heart pumping less blood with each passing hour, Decker confronted spending his final days in the very hospice where he’d counseled the dying for 12 years.

“He was damn sick. There’s no question about it,” said Dr. Michael Acker, director of the hospital’s heart transplant program. Read the rest…

Brain Tumor: Old Soul Forever Young

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CANCER CLAIMED LIFE OF JUSTIN LIVA AT 14,
BUT HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON

Page: 1A
By DAWN SHURMAITIS; Times Leader Staff Writer

Shelley Liva leans close. She grins.

“Justin would probably kill me if he could hear me telling you this,” she
says, rolling her hazel eyes toward heaven and pausing, as if waiting for a
signal.

Then, the stories tumble out.

Justin in the kitchen, chopping fresh garlic for spaghetti sauce he made
every spring for the school picnic. Justin at Harveys Lake catching fish
with his dad, Phil, and little brother, Andrew. Justin at his computer,
lost in his own fantasy city. Read the rest…

Accupuncture: Getting to the Point of Pain

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Monday, July 29, 1996

By Dawn Shurmaitis

Take a simple clove of garlic. Now, imagine a doctor from the West and
another doctor from the Orient observing the same clove. The Westerner will figure out what chemical in the garlic lowers cholesterol, put that chemical in a pill and sell it.

The Oriental will say, simply, “Eat the garlic.”

That, according to Dr. William Clearfield, is one way to look at the
differences between more familiar and traditional medical methods and
ancient medicinal arts like acupuncture. Read the rest…