It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: September 19, 2019

Catherine Garcia


Jamaica's coral reefs are slowly recovering, thanks to coral gardeners

Slowly but surely, the coral reefs in Jamaica are making a comeback. In the 1980s and '90s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its coral reefs due to hurricanes, overfishing, and water pollution. Coral sustains one-quarter of all marine species, and as the reefs disappeared in Jamaica, so did the fish. To revive the reefs, several organizations have launched "coral nurseries" underwater, where pieces of staghorn coral are tied to suspended ropes, slowly growing until they reach the size of a human hand, The Associated Press reports. Then, those pieces are taken to reefs and tied to rocks, where the limestone skeleton ultimately becomes attached. The groups have had great success restoring sections of different reefs through this process. Thanks to the hard work of coral gardeners, plus the volunteers who patrol the nurseries and fish sanctuaries to stop illegal fishing, the reefs are growing and the fish populations are increasing. [The Associated Press]


Colorado woman becomes 1st person to swim across the English Channel 4 times in a row

Wearing just a cap, goggles, and swimsuit, Sarah Thomas got into the water Saturday and emerged more than 54 hours later as a world record holder. On Tuesday, the 37-year-old from Colorado became the first person to ever swim across the English Channel four times in a row, nonstop. After completing breast cancer treatment last year, she wanted to take on this challenge, saying her swim was for "all the survivors out there." Going into it, Thomas expected to swim about 80 miles, but strong tides tacked on 50 additional miles. The hardest parts included getting stung on the face by a jellyfish and having to deal with the saltwater burning her throat, mouth, and tongue, but Thomas pushed through, buoyed by her supporters and the protein drinks she downed every 30 minutes. Once back on land, Thomas told BBC News she couldn't believe she did it. [BBC News]


Texas nurse adopts baby she took care of in the ICU

The bond between pediatric nurse Claire Mills and her patient, Jackson, was instant. Jackson was born five weeks early via emergency C-section, weighing just 3 pounds, 10 ounces. Mills, 25, works in the neonatal intensive care unit at a hospital in Texas, and she knew that Jackson's mother was struggling. After several weeks, Jackson was discharged, and because it happened when Mills was off duty, she didn't have a chance to say goodbye. Jackson's mom, knowing about Mills' bond with her son, got in touch and said she wouldn't be able to provide her son with the life he deserved, but Mills could. Mills worried about raising him as a single mom, but her own mother encouraged her to follow her heart, and soon after, Mills started the adoption process. Jackson, now 4 months old, is all settled into his new home, is in good health, and is "so happy," Mills told Inside Edition. [Inside Edition]


Doctor discovers treatment for his rare autoimmune disorder

David Fajgenbaum couldn't afford to wait for someone else to come up with a treatment for Castleman disease, the rare autoimmune disorder he was diagnosed with during his third year in medical school. Fajgenbaum was hospitalized four times due to the disease, which caused his immune system to attack his organs, and had to go through chemotherapy to survive. "You learn a lot by almost dying," he told CNN. While looking at his medical charts, Fajgenbaum saw that a protein called VEGF spiked every time he had a flareup of his disease. This protein controls the growth of blood vessels and gets the immune system going. He asked his doctor to prescribe an immunosuppressant, and that did the trick — he's been in remission for five years. Now married, a new father, and a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Fajgenbaum is thrilled to see the treatment working on other patients. [CNN]


Pennsylvania couple throws community baby shower to help 150 new parents

Jonathan and Cindy Strawbridge know firsthand how expensive it is to be a parent. The York, Pennsylvania, husband and wife have a 2-year-old son, and wanted to give back to others who don't have the support they need. "We have a village which we are so grateful for," Cindy Strawbridge told WGAL. "But what about other people that don't have a village?" The couple decided to hold a community baby shower earlier this month, so parents in need could receive much-needed supplies. They asked local businesses and community members if they would be willing to donate items, including diapers, clothing, and formula, and received enough essentials to put together 150 baskets. Each one also contained a note. Every message was different, but all made it clear that "you matter, you are loved," Cindy Strawbridge said. "So is your child, and we're happy to be a part of the village with you." [WGAL]