Good News Thursday: Woman donates kidney to husband’s ex-wife, eye exams help rural Romanian kids

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Para athlete teaches kids sports, inclusion

Adolfo Damian Berdun, of Argentina, a professional player and captain of the Argentine basketball Paralympic team, teaches children basketball at a primary school in Verano Brianza. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

A para athlete taught the importance of diversity by coaching basketball. The head of the sports association in a town outside of Milan, Italy asked Adolfo Damian Berdun, an Argentinian-Italian wheelchair basketball champion, to be the May basketball coach for four classes of second graders. He agreed, but instead of playing a suggested video to explain why he only has one leg he rolled into the gymnasium, introduced himself and started practice. The kids learned to shoot, dribble and pass. By the end of the month they no longer had questions about Berdun’s handicap.

“The most beautiful thing is that we succeeded in breaking down the barrier between the coach with one leg in a wheelchair, and the ideal of a coach, period,″ Berdun told the Associated Press. ”How do I know this? Because after asking me a couple of questions, they asked if they could continue doing basketball drills. That means they were more interested in playing than in knowing why I only have one leg.”

Eye exams help rural Romanian kids

A little girl adjusts testing glasses during an eyesight examination performed by volunteer ophthalmologists working with the humanitarian organization Casa Buna, or Good House, in Nucsoara, Romania. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Dozens of Romanian children are seeing clearer after receiving their first eye exam. Eye exams are typically done in early infancy, but for children living in remote areas like Nucsoara, Romania, there is little opportunity to see an ophthalmologist. But thanks to humanitarian organization Casa Buna, eye exams were set up in Nucsoara to test the children in surrounding villages.

Casa Buna used creative ways like activities and games to entice kids to get their eyes checked. The main goal of the organization is to help children receive education. Having poor eyesight without proper diagnosis can deter kids from reading or understanding their work. Their goal is to provide 600 to 1,000 pairs of glasses to the kids in need. “From birth, we should all have equal opportunities in education and access to health care,” ophthalmologist Marinescu told the Associated Press. “Regardless of the geographical area in which we are born.”

Woman donates kidney to husband’s ex-wife

Two days after Debby-Neal Strickland, front left, and Jim Merthe were married in November, Debby donated a kidney to Jim’s ex-wife Mylaen Merthe, center back, as the three get together at a restaurant in Ocala, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

After 10 years of dating, Debby Neal-Strickland and Jim Merthe tied the knot in their hometown church. Two days later Debby traded her white gown for a hospital gown, ready for surgery to donate her kidney to Jim’s ex-wife. Jim and his ex-wife Mylaen Merthe were married for ten years before him and Debby’s relationship and kept a friendly relationship while raising their kids. Mylaen struggled with kidney problems for years, but months ago her condition got worse; bags sunk under her eyes and her skin became paler. When she finally went to the hospital, her kidney functioned at only 8% and she urgently needed a transplant. 

Debby experienced the struggles of finding an organ donor when her brother needed a double lung transplant. He passed away after never finding a donor that matched his lungs, so when Debby heard Mylaen needed a kidney donor she knew right away to get tested to see if she was a match. When she discovered she was a match she scheduled the surgery as soon as she could, which meant honeymooning in the hospital. The surgeries were successful, Mylaen even got to hold her new grandson after the operation. “This is what the world is about. Family. We need to stick together,” Mylaen told the Associated Press. “She saved my life.”

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