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It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: March 21, 2019

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Catherine Garcia
Thomas Panek.
Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Guiding Eyes For The Blind
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1.

Daughter delighted to learn she is adopted dad's kidney donor match

When DeLauren McKnight found out she was a perfect kidney donor match for her father, Billy Houze, it made sense to her. "My dad saved me 27 years ago when I was eight months old," the North Carolina resident told Inside Edition. "He saved my life so I could later save his." Houze and his wife adopted McKnight in 1992, and he has "always provided for me," McKnight said. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for my dad to see him live the life he is destined for." Houze had gallbladder surgery in 2016, and soon after, his kidneys began to fail. His name was put on a kidney donation list, but doctors warned it could take up to eight years to find a donor. All of Houze's children were tested, and only McKnight was a match. "I was just amazed," she said. The surgery should be scheduled within the next few weeks. [Inside Edition]

2.

Young musician and one-time patient returns to hospital to play classical music for babies

Isabella Ciriello was born 16 weeks early and spent the first three months of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit, listening to Mozart sonatas inside her incubator. Ciriello's doctor at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, Jeffrey Perlman, told her mother that premature babies find classical music soothing. Now 12, Ciriello plays the guitar, piano, and drums, and believes that this early exposure sparked her interest in classical music. Last summer, she asked to meet Perlman, and he told her he'd love to have an "orchestra of all my favorite patients" come back and play for the babies now in the NICU. Ciriello took him up on his offer, and held a guitar performance in the NICU to mark World Prematurity Month. "I was in their position once," Ciriello said of the babies, and "it feels good to give back and help them." [New York-Presbyterian]

3.

Runner becomes 1st person to complete New York City Half Marathon supported by guide dogs

With the support of Gus, Waffle, and Westley, Thomas Panek made history as he crossed the finish line Sunday at the New York City Half Marathon. Panek is blind, and instead of using human guides during the race, he relied on the three dogs. This was the first time a visually-impaired runner completed the race supported by canines. "It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run," Panek, president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, told CNN. Gus is Panek's longtime guide dog, and Waffle and Westley are siblings undergoing guide dog training. They spent months preparing for the race, and the dogs were outfitted with special harnesses and booties to protect their paws. Each Labrador took a turn running 3.1 miles with Panek, who finished the race in two hours, 21 minutes. [CNN]

4.

Former wounded warrior is spending his retirement volunteering at Walter Reed

As more and more wounded service members came home from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006, Steve Peth knew he had to do something to help. A Vietnam veteran, the newly retired Peth became a Red Cross volunteer, and still works with the Department of Rehabilitation's amputee program at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. "Anything you can do for them is really appreciated, and that's really amazing," Peth, 72, told The Week. "That's what motivates me." Peth joined the Army in 1967 and became a medical evacuation helicopter pilot. When his helicopter was hit 39 times by fire, he was seriously injured, and earned the Purple Heart, in addition to the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He remembers being in the hospital and going through physical therapy, and can empathize with patients as they learn how to adjust to their new way of life. [The Week]

5.

Formerly homeless teen's hard work pays off as he's accepted to 17 colleges

Dylan Chidick refused to let anything get between him and his dream of going to college. The 17-year-old from New Jersey has been accepted to 17 colleges, a difficult feat even under the easiest of circumstances. Chidick came to the U.S. from Trinidad when he was seven, and after his mother lost her job, the family had to live in a homeless shelter; they have since found permanent housing. Through it all, Chidick excelled at school, and is senior class president and in the Honor Society. "My family went through a lot and there has been a lot of people saying, 'You can't do that,' or 'You're not going to achieve this,' and getting these acceptances kind of verifies what I have been saying — I can do it and I will do it," he told CBS New York. Chidick will be the first person in his family to go to college. [CBS New York]