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Houston waiter refuses to serve customer who insulted Down syndrome boy

Published January 20, 2013 FoxNews.com

Usually, when a waiter refuses to serve someone at a restaurant, customers complain. In this case, customers cheered.

The waiter in question, Michael Garcia, has been receiving goodwill and friend requests on the restaurant’s Facebook page since word spread that he stood up for a child with special needs.

Garcia, who works at the Houston restaurant Laurenzo’s, was waiting on a family, regulars with a 5-year-old child, Milo, who has Down syndrome. The server said that another family at the restaurant commented on Milo’s behavior, which Garcia described as “talking and making little noises.” Garcia moved the complaining family to another table, but they were still unhappy. “Special needs children need to be special somewhere else,” the father reportedly said.

The waiter then took a stand. He told FoxNews.com that such talk is ignorant and is due to people’s fear of the unknown. “My personal feelings took over,” he said, leading him to tell the father, “Sir, I won’t be able to serve you.” The family left the restaurant.

It didn’t take long for the story to get out. The eatery’s Facebook page has received praise from people in Texas and beyond.

Facebook user Tisha Baker wrote, “Thank you so much for speaking up when most just turn away.”

Rick Park posted, “Thank you Mr. Garcia, I have a 17 year old son with Down syndrome and I love to hear about people like yourself standing up for people with disabilities.”

Stephanie Painter added, “Thank you Michael for standing up for this beautiful little boy! Anyone who has ever come in contact with a child, or adult, with Down’s knows how loving and happy they are. Milo is a precious gift from God and so is Michael!”

Outside of Texas, Garcia gained other fans. Sue Pusztai posted, “I wish I lived in Texas so I could eat at your restaurant. I would loved to have met Mr. Garcia and thank him for his compassion and courage.”

Grateful mom of Milo, Kim Castillo, added her thanks online the night of the incident on a friend’s Facebook page: “Yay for people like Michael … who not only love (my son) Milo for who he is — a customer and little boy with Down syndrome, but stand up for him no matter what.”


FoxNews.com’s Alexandria Hein contributed to this report. 



Powerful Story of a Woman Who was Aborted – but Survived

The video at the link below is a story of survival and God’s plan for a life.

Her biological mother decided to have an abortion, but by a miracle of God, she survived and has grown up to be a powerful tool for the Lord.

Powerful Story of a Woman Who was Aborted – but Survived

How to Make a Difference in 15 Minutes-Eyeglasses Donation


by Beth Hering

Donating your old eyeglasses can save someone in a developing nation from unemployment. With the price of glasses exceeding three months’ average salary in some African countries, donated eyeglasses are the only feasible way to bring sight to many visually impaired. These recycled glasses can be the difference between a blacksmith continuing his work or closing up shop, or the factor that enables a woman to support herself by doing embroidery rather than becoming destitute.

Medical missions often call their eye care facilities "joy clinics" because of the happiness that eyeglass donations bring. Imagine the feeling of being a boy who constantly did poorly in school because he couldn’t see the words in his books all of a sudden having reading make sense because he received the gift of recycled glasses.

Yet while some mothers in poor, rural areas have never even clearly seen the faces of their children, more than four million pairs of unused eyeglasses go into the garbage in North America each year.

The good news is that you can make a huge difference in someone’s life simply by donating your unworn eyeglasses and spreading the word to others. Groups such as the Lions Club can recycle eyeglasses for as little as 8 cents each. But they cannot do it without your help.

Donate your old eyeglasses and sunglasses to help people with eyesight difficulties worldwide. (Sunglasses can be non-prescription. They are needed in countries near the equator to help protect people’s eyes from sun damage.) Collection facilities include Goodwill Industries stores, LensCrafters stores, and Lions Club drop boxes. Items also can be sent in padded envelopes or boxes to:

New Eyes for the Needy
549 Millburn Avenue
P.O. Box 332
Short Hills, NJ 07078

E-mail ten friends who wear glasses to see if they have old pairs that could be recycled for people with eyesight problems. Collect them for donation.

Check with lost and found departments in hotels, stores, police stations, and mortuaries for unclaimed glasses that could be donated.

New Bionic Limbs Giving Mobility Back To Amputees

New Bionic Limbs Giving Mobility Back To Amputees

Recipient Says He’s Not Super-Human, Just Much Better Off

POSTED: 11:48 am CDT September 14, 2006
UPDATED: 2:29 pm CDT September 14, 2006

CHICAGO — Jesse Sullivan has two prosthetic arms, but he can climb a ladder at his house and roll on a fresh coat of paint. He’s also good with a weed-whacker, bending his elbow and rotating his forearm to guide the machine. He’s even mastered a more sensitive maneuver — hugging his grandchildren.

The motions are coordinated and smooth because his left arm is a bionic device controlled by his brain. He thinks, "Close hand," and electrical signals sent through surgically re-routed nerves make it happen.

Doctors describe Sullivan as the first amputee with a thought-controlled artificial arm.

Researchers encouraged Sullivan, who became an amputee in an industrial accident, not to go easy on his experimental limb.

"When I left, they said don’t bring it back looking new," the 59-year-old Sullivan said with a grin, his brow showing sweat beneath a fraying Dollywood amusement park cap. At times he been so rough with the bionic arm that it has broken, including once when he pulled the end off starting a lawnmower.

That prompted researchers to make improvements, part of a U.S. government initiative to refine artificial limbs that connect body and mind. The National Institutes of Health has supported the research, joined more recently by the military’s research-and-development wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Some 411 U.S. troops in Iraq and 37 in Afghanistan have had wounds that cost them at least one limb, the Army Medical Command says.

Although work that created Sullivan’s arm preceded the research by DARPA, he said he’s proud to test a type of bionic arm that soldiers could someday use.

"Those guys are heroes in my book," he said, "and they should have the best there is."

"We’re excited about collaborating with the military," said the developer of Sullivan’s arm, Dr. Todd Kuiken, director of neuroengineering at the Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, one of 35 partners now in a DARPA project to develop a state-of-the-art arm.

Sullivan’s bionic arm represents an advance over typical artificial arms, like the right-arm prosthesis he uses, which has a hook and operates with sequential motions. There is no perceivable delay in the motions of Sullivan’s flesh-colored, plastic-like left arm. Until now, it has been nearly impossible to recreate the subtle and complex motion of a human arm.

"It is not as smooth as a normal arm but it works much smoother than a normal prosthesis," Kuiken said.

Sullivan lost his arms in May 2001 working as a utility lineman. He suffered electrical burns so severe that doctors had to amputate both his arms at the shoulder.

Seven weeks later, due to what Sullivan calls being in the right place at the right time, he was headed to meet the Chicago researchers.

"Jesse is an absolutely remarkable human being, with or without his injuries," Kuiken said.

Sullivan said his bionic arm isn’t much like the one test pilot Steve Austin got in the ’70s TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man." "I don’t really feel superhuman or anything," he said.

"It’s not magic," added his 4-year-old grandson, Luke Westlake, as he placed a nut in Sullivan’s grip and challenged Paw-Paw to crack it open.

Not magic but high-tech science makes the bionic arm work. A procedure called "muscle reinnervation," developed by Kuiken and used on five additional patients so far, is the key.

For Sullivan, it involved grafting shoulder nerves, which used to go to his arms, to his pectoral muscle. The grafts receive thought-generated impulses, and the muscle activity is picked up by electrodes; these relay the signals to the arm’s computer, which causes motors to move the elbow and hand, mimicking a normal arm.

"The nerves grow into the chest muscles, so when the patient thinks, ‘Close hand,’ a portion of the chest muscle contracts," according to an institute fact sheet.

Kuiken added: "Basically it is connecting the dots. Finding the nerves. We have to free the nerves and see how far they reach" and connect to muscles.

About three months after the surgery, Sullivan first noticed voluntary twitches in his pectoral muscle when he tried to bend his missing elbow, the institute said. By five months, he could activate four different areas of his major pectoral muscle.

Trying to flex his missing elbow would cause a strong contraction of the muscle area just beneath the clavicle. When he mentally closed his missing hand, a signal could be detected on the pectoral region below the clavicle, and when he tried to open his hand there was a separate signal. Extending his elbow and hand caused a contraction of the lower pectoral muscle.

When Sullivan’s chest was touched he "had a sensation of touch to different parts of his hand and arm," the institute said. "The patient had substituted sensation of touch, graded pressure, sharp-dull and thermal sensation."

Sullivan said of the thought-controlled arm: "When I use the new prosthesis I just do things. I don’t have to think about it."

Kuiken describes the procedure on Sullivan as the first time such a graft has been used to control an artificial limb.

Gregory Clark, associate professor of bioengineering and prosthetics researcher at the University of Utah, agreed, adding that a conventional prosthetic limb is "limited in a number of ways in the types of movements. Moreover, it can do only one of those movements at any particular moment."

Clark said a natural arm is capable of 22 discrete movements. Sullivan’s bionic limb is capable of four right now, though researchers are working to make them better.

"Four is wonderful," Clark said.

Sullivan said his bionic arm allows him to rotate his upper arm, bend his elbow, rotate his wrist, and open and close his hand — in some instances simultaneously.

He and Kuiken attended a Washington, D.C., news conference Thursday with Claudia Mitchell, the first woman to receive the bionic arm. The 26-year-old Mitchell was injured in a motorcycle accident after she left the Marines in 2004.

"I don’t have to put a lot of thought into it. I just say open and it happens," Mitchell said. "I can reach up and grab that cup and reach right back down … I can hold veggies while I chop them, I can hold a pan."

Trying his new arm at increasingly challenging tasks, Sullivan acknowledges he has good days and bad ones.

"At first, I couldn’t watch when he tried doing this stuff," said Sullivan’s wife of 22 years, Carolyn.

She said she first thought after the accident that he was going to die. She gave up her catering business to tend to him around the clock.

But eventually he forced her to occasionally run errands and leave him alone.

"He finally got mad and yelled at me and told me to go to the store," she said, laughing.

Enormous lifestyle adjustments that the injuries and rehabilitation required were not as hard as might be expected, she said.

"For some reason, we just sort of rolled into it. I just knew he wasn’t going to let anything keep him down," she said.

She said medication helps control his pain, and sometimes he resorts to self hypnosis. "They taught him how to do that," she said, adding she doesn’t consider herself to be a caretaker.

"I do all the yard work," Jesse Sullivan said. "I take out the garbage."

He can even hold a fork to eat.

And there’s another task the bionic grandfather of 10 looks forward to mastering: casting a fishing line.


Men Donating Kidneys in Four-way Swap

Men donating kidneys in four-way swap

The two men are giving their organs to each other’s wives

Updated: 7:39 p.m. CT Sept 12, 2006

LEBANON, N.H. – Two men are donating kidneys to each other’s wives in a four-way surgical swap at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. It is the first time such a swap among healthy, living donors and patients with kidney failure has taken place at the hospital.

Jody Pardoe, 43, will receive a kidney from a stranger who has compatible blood and tissue types. Meanwhile, her husband Peter has turned out to be a compatible donor for the other man’s wife. They do not know the identities of the other couple.

It will be Jody’s second kidney transplant since 1991, and she hopes it will allow her to live without regular dialysis. Yet she has mixed feelings because she is concerned for her husband.

"I feel guilty about Peter giving up his kidney," she said. "I can’t say enough about what Peter is doing. It’s not as if he’s giving it to me. He’s giving it to a stranger so that I can have a better life. I love him more now than I ever did."

For Peter, 43, the donation is just part of being married. When he learned of the hospital’s program allowing healthy family members to donate a kidney in exchange for a transplanted organ from another healthy donor, he signed on.

"I had no second thoughts or qualms about it. I was just doing it for Jody. Anything I could do to make her life a little more normal," he said.

The Pardoes were ready to go through a similar swap two years ago, but it fell through when they learned the donor kidney had an extra artery that would have led to a 25 percent loss in kidney function for Jody.

They returned to the transplant waiting list while the hospital searched for a compatible donor. That search was more difficult because Jody has type B blood, which is shared by only 3 percent of the population.

"It was disappointing, but we never gave up hope," said Peter.

Two surgical teams, led by Dr. David Axelrod and Dr. John Seign, will begin by removing healthy kidneys from the two men, a procedure that should last two or three hours. Then they will perform the transplants, which take about the same amount of time.

"We have a certain responsibility to the donor, because here are healthy people coming in with this extraordinary gift," Axelrod said. "The day is really centered around donor safety."

The hospital performs about 60 kidney transplants each year and boasts a 98 percent survival rate after the first year. Transplants from living donors — whether relatives or strangers — do better than organs donated by someone who has died, Axelrod said.

The first kidney swap took place at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore in 2001, and the first swap in New England was at a Boston hospital in 2002. Since then, there have been about 100 paired kidney exchanges.

"It takes a lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of faith," said Axelrod. "People have to have faith that the quality of the kidney one is getting is as good as one they are giving."

Jody Pardoe is not concerned with making history, but she hopes other people in her situation will understand they have alternatives to signing up on a regional organ donation waiting list or finding a relative who is willing and able to donate.

"What I hope is that this opens the door for others, because there are so many people in need waiting for transplants," she said.

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