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Ronald Murphy was born with a rare birth defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means his left ventricle was not fully developed. Doctors knew of his condition from prenatal ultrasounds, and he was placed on a waiting list for a heart transplant soon after his birth.

When Ronald was born in 1996, a transplant was his only chance for survival. At age 11 weeks, an infant heart became available. 

It was never expected that Ronald would make it to his 18th Birthday, even with the life saving heart transplant. So his family celebrated Saturday with a big surprise bash! But Ronald wasn’t the only guest of honor. The family of the infant girl whose heart keeps Murphy alive was there, too.

In 1996 Kaylee Kunkel had died in Illinois two weeks after being born with multiple health problems, and her heart was sent to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. This heart was then given to Ronald and saved his life.

Kevin and Michelle Kunkel along with daughters Kenzie, 14, and Maddy, 11, drove from Pecatonica, Ill., near Rockford, because “18 is a big deal,” said Michelle Kunkel.

The Kunkels, who donated their baby girls organs 18 years ago said it was not a difficult decision. The young boy who received Kaylee’s liver died within five years of the transplant. But her heart has reached adulthood inside Ronald Murphy.

Nearly one in 100 babies across the gloabe are born with a congenital heart defect, and 10 percent of those are considered candidates for transplants because the defect can’t be corrected with surgery or other treatments. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is no longer considered an automatic cause for transplant, in part because of new surgical techniques but also because of a shortage of donor hearts.

This is the second time that the families have met. They first met when Ronald was a toddler, which he doesn’t remember. On Saturday, they met once again to celebrate Ronald’s birthday, a reminder that their daughter would have been the same age.

Picture above: Transplant recipient Ronald Murphy Jr. and his mother, Catherine Murphy (left), greet Michelle Kunkel, mother of the infant that was an organ donor in the infant heart transplant that saved Ronald Murphy's life. Photo by Sid Hastings

Looking for a cheap and enjoyable way to reduce your risk of heart disease?

New research suggests that by simply increasing your fruit consumption everyday you can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 40%!

The study that looked at more than 451,680 participants over seven years, asked the group to report their fruit consumption whether it be never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, or daily.

The researchers found that compared to people who never ate fruit, those who ate fruit every day cut their heart disease risk by 25% to 40%. Those who ate the most amount of fruit also had much lower blood pressure compared to the participants who never ate fruit.

This is not the first time researchers have found a direct link to consuming raw fruit and having better heart health. Another study monitored 110,000 men and women over 14 years and found that people who ate fruit and vegetables every day had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and some other studies have delved even further into the topic and found that citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits have especially protective benefits.

An apple a day really does keep the Doctor way.

Had a big weekend? Don't sweat it! A recent study published by the European Society of Cardiology claims pairing wine with regular exercise is actually good for your heart. 

Scientists tracked the results of people who drank wine five days out of the week over the course of one year. Men were allowed up to two-and-a-half glasses (0.3 L), while women drank one to two (0.2 L).

One split-gender group exercised while the other’s participants simply drank and went about their lives.

The trial, called “In Vino, Veritas,” revealed that those who worked out twice a week and drank wine showed “significant improvement” in cholesterol levels. The wine even increased levels of HDL cholesterol.

Professor Milos Taborsky, the study’s lead researcher, said in a press release that his results are conclusive.

Our current study shows that the combination of moderate wine drinking plus regular exercise improves markers of atherosclerosis, suggesting that this combination is protective against cardiovascular disease.

According to The Atlantic, participants who failed to exercise didn’t receive any noticeable health benefits, but they also didn’t suffer a significant amount of liver damage.
Taborsky said that wine by itself is not the answer.

A rise in HDL cholesterol is the main indication of a protective effect against [cardiovascular disease], therefore we can conclude that neither red or white wine had any impact on study participants as a whole.

I'll cheers to that! 

This week marked a year since Cessnock local Stephen Bailey’s suffered a cardiac arrest while driving his car to Pokolbin. Beating the odds to overcome the ordeal, which has a survival rate of less than five per cent.

A member of the Cessnock Pigeon Club, Stephen was on his way to train his birds in preparation for a major competition when the arrest happened.

Fortunately for Stephen, a number of local residents quickly rushed to his aid performing CPR on him until paramedics arrived.

After just four days in intensive care Stephen had to have surgery to implant a defibrillator, in an effort to help restore his heart to a normal, effective rhythm.

You can read Stephens full story here.

Dogs may be good at more than just playing fetch or greeting you at home after work. Studies suggest dogs can also help keep you in good health.

Here are 3 ways dogs as pets improve your health!

A Healthier Heart 

Your dog may make you less likely to get heart disease - dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than people that don't have dogs. 

Pets can also be good for you if you already have heart problems. Studies show that heart attack survivors and people with serious abnormal heart rhythms who own dogs live longer than people with the same heart problems who don't have pets

Stress Soothers

Petting your dog feels good. It can lower your blood pressure, helps your body release a relaxation hormone and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone.

It also soothes your pet, says Alan Bec, ScD, director of the Centre of the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University.

Better Mood, More Meaning

People with pets are generally happier, more trusting and less lonely than those who don't have pets. They also visit the doctor less often for minor problems. One reason for that may be that your pet gives you a sense of belonging and meaning, McConnell says. "You feel like you have greater control of your life". See more health benefits from owning a dog here.

We here at Schiller have an 'office dog', Karma, who our Director Harry belongs to. We all find it a nice way to calm down during a hectic day by giving her a pat and taking her on short walks throughout the day. 

It goes to show that a dog really is man's best friend!


"Wear your Beanie for Brain Cancer Awareness Day" is an event created by the Mark Hughes Foundation  to create awareness and support for Brain Cancer. All funds raised go directly to Brain Cancer Research at Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). 

Mark, a local Newcastle legend and founder of the Mark Hughes Foundation was diagnosed with Brain Cancer in July 2013. Mark has since had treatment and currently MRI scans show no regrowth of the tumour.

"I've accepted that it's a journey and a path I've been given now, and with that an opportunity to turn something negative into something truly positive. The Mark Hughes Foundation is a way I can truly repay those who've helped me and help others in my position."

He has such a positive outlook, we wish Mark and his family all the best for this journey.

So make sure you wear your beanie & make a gold coin donation (or more) to such a worthy cause!

Pictured above Sue, Simone, myself, Mathew & Harry sporting our beanies!