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This Man Lived 555 Days Without A Real Heart Before Receiving A Transplant

The 25-year-old father of three suffered from a condition that causes irregular heartbeats and presents a high risk for cardiac arrest.

If we're being frank, this story sounds crazy. Some man was able to live for more than a year without a heart. However, 25-year-old Stan Larkin's story is a modern tale about the wonders of science and the determination of the human spirit.

When Larkin was 16 years old, he was playing basketball near his home in Ypsilanti, Mich., when he suddenly collapsed on the court. Doctors diagnosed Larkin with arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) which causes irregular heartbeats and presents a risk of cardiac arrest. A defibrillator--a small device that issues electric charges to fix the abnormal heartbeats--was placed in his heart and would work fine as long as the patient doesn't engage in any strenuous activity like, pick up basketball, which Larkin enjoys.

The defibrillator worked for a while, but it became clear Larkin would need a heart transplant after his case of ARVD advanced. A defibrillator is effective when one side of the patient's heart is failing, unfortunately, both sides of Larkin's heart were weak. The news only got worse as Larkin would have to wait his turn in the long line of patients before him who also needed a heart.

A cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Hospital thought maybe Larkin, a father of three, could live without a human heart entirely until he received his transplant. The left-of-center idea proved valuable and on Nov. 7, 2014, Larkin was hooked up to "Big Blue" a 418 pound machine, which is meant as a gas station of sorts while the patient is waiting for a transplant. The machine works by pumping compressed air through two tubes that are attached to two cone like valves that replace both ventricles. The only problem, it's 418 pounds, which is basically a washing machine. Larkin was alive, yes, but was bound to "Big Blue."

Things eventually got better for Larkin.

In June of 2014, the FDA approved a smaller, more compact version of "Big Blue" called the Freedom Portable Driver. The device is 13.5 pounds and fits inside a backpack and performs the exact same function as "Big Blue." Larkin, who could now leave the hospital, was thankful for it, but still had to get used to the upgrade.

“It was kind of stressful at the beginning, because I had to get used to the noise. It was a lot of noise 24/7, the heartbeat," Larkin said. As I got used to the noise, I could finally go to sleep. After that, I had to get used to carrying three extra bags with me, everywhere I went. I had to have all this stuff every time I moved.”

The device can be plugged into a wall outlet or even a carjack, and comes with a display panel showing the patient's heartbeat per minute and cardiac output.

Yes, despite the backpack being a vast improvement from the 418 pound machine he was once tied to, this still wasn't a seamless transition. Larkin said he couldn't pick up his daughter and had to take very careful, and quick baths, due to the electric nature of the backpack. Yet, after 555 days after his ordeal began, Larkin finally received a real heart.

"I’ll probably run a few pickup games, but not right away,” he said. “I haven’t taken a shot yet without the backpack hooked up. I just want to put the heart to use.”

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Trailblazers Portrayed In 'Hidden Figures' To Receive Congressional Gold Medals

Engineers Mary Jackson and Christine Darden, mathematician Katherine Johnson and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughn are being honored with the highest U.S. civilian award.

The four trailblazers, three of whom were depicted in the film Hidden Figures, will receive Congressional Gold Medal, ABC News reports. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) helped introduce the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act, a bipartisan bill signed by President Donald Trump last Friday (Nov. 8).

As the highest civilian award in the U.S., the Congressional Gold Medal recognizes those who have performed an achievement that has had a lasting impact on American history and culture.

Johnson, who celebrated her 101st birthday last summer, calculated trajectories for numerous NASA space missions beginning in the early 1950s. Vaughn, who died in 2008, led the West Area Computing unit for nine years, and was the first black supervisors at the national Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which later became NASA.

Jackson, who died in 2005, was NASA’s first black engineer. Darden became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Jackson and went on to “revolutionize aeronautic design.” She was also the first black person to be promoted to Senior Executive at NASA's Langley Research Center, and has also authored more than 50 articles on aeronautics design.

“Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden made monumental contributions to science and our nation,” said Senator Harris. “The groundbreaking accomplishments of these four women, and all of the women who contributed to the success of NASA, helped us win the space race but remained in the dark far too long. I am proud our bill to honor these remarkable women has passed Congress. These pioneers remain a beacon for Black women across the country, both young and old.”

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Courtesy of Crawford Family, WVLT

Authorities Release Grisly Details Of Alexis Crawford’s Murder

Alexis Crawford was strangled to death before her body was thrown in a trash bin, the Fulton Country Superior Court revealed in court documents released on Tuesday (Nov. 12).

Crawford died on Oct. 31, reports the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Four days earlier, the 21-year-old Clark Atlanta University senior filed a police report against her roommate, Jordyn Jones's boyfriend, Barron Bentley, accusing him of sexual assault. Crawford had a rape kit performed on her at a local hospital. Crawford's decision to go to police caused tension between her and Jones, which erupted in a physical fight.

“As a result of the physical altercation, Barron Brantley choked the victim until she was deceased,” the Atlanta Police Department said.

After killing Crawford, Jones and Brantley, both age 21, stuffed her body into a “plastic bin” and transported it to Exchange Park in Decatur, Ga., where they left her remains.

Crawford and Jones knew each other for at least two years, and became close while studying at Clark Atlanta. The Michigan native even visited Crawford’s family’s home during the holidays.

Brantley confessed to Crawford's murder and led police to her body last Friday (Nov. 7). Jones was arrested the following day.

Brantley and Jones are both charged with felony murder and are being held without bond.

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Kansas City To Remove Martin Luther King’s Name From Street Signs

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name is set to be removed from street signs around Kansas City after resident voted Tuesday (Nov. 5), to drop MLK Boulevard and restore the parkway back to its original name, The Paseo.

The measure, which passed with approximately 70 percent of the vote, was spearheaded by Save the Paseo, a grassroots movement whose mission is to “preserve the name of KC’s most historic boulevard and find a way to honor Dr. King that brings the City together.”  Stretching 10 miles north and south, The Paseo is the longest, and one of the oldest streets in KC.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced the resolution to have the street renamed, after nearly 40 years of failed attempts at honoring the late Civil Rights hero. The MLK street signs were erected this past February. “People want to make sure that we engage with enough different community stakeholders, and I think it's fair to say that did not happen," Lucas told The Kansas City Star in reaction to the vote.

Rep. Vernon P. Howard, who helped lead the MLK name change effort, believes that the issue is race-related. Howard said Save the Paseo group members are of mostly white residents who don’t fully grasp the significance of the name change. Paseo members held a silent protest at the Paseo Baptist Church last Sunday (Nov. 3).

“This is a white-led movement that is trying to dictate to black people in the black community who our heroes should be, who we honor, where we honor them and how we honor them,” Howard said. “That is the pathology of white privilege and that is the epitome of systemic structural racism.”

The street sign discrepancy began after the city changed the address of more than 1,800 residents without asking. Kansas City law requires that at least two-thirds of residents approve a street name before it can be changed, although the rule is not typically enforced, according to The Star. Diane Euston, a member of Save Paseo, said that she was “proud of Kansas City” after Tuesday's vote.

Kansas City is expected to remove more than 100 signs, including those that cut through a predominately black neighborhood in town. Although Kansas City has a park named after King, the city will go back to being one of the largest major metropolitan areas without a street named in King's honor.

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