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matka_Wariatka/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Kimberly-Clark issued a voluntary recall yesterday for some of their U by Kotex tampons, amid reports from consumers of them "unraveling and/or coming apart upon removal," according to a statement on their website.

The tampons being recalled include the U by Kotex Sleek and Regular Absorbency Tampons, which are currently being sold in the U.S. and Canada and limited to those that were manufactured prior to Oct. 16, 2018, according to the U by Kotex website. You can check if tampons you purchased are being recalled by inputting the lot number (found on the box) into a checker on the site.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also posted a full list of the lot codes of products impacted by the recall on their site here.

The recall was initiated after the reports of unraveling or coming apart from consumers, "and in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body," according to the company's website.

"There also have been a small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms," the statement on the site added.

ABC News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an Ob-Gyn, told "Good Morning America" that leaving foreign material in the body can cause infection.

"In Gynecology, we have a saying: the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven, which means that it constantly flushes out bacteria or other particulate matter," Ashton said. "However, if larger pieces of cotton are left behind, it is possible to develop an infection similar to that seen with any retained 'foreign material.'"

"Women having any abnormal discharge, bleeding or pain should see their health care provider," she added.

Kimberly-Clark launched a full FAQ page related to the recall for consumers here.

The company also said it is taking steps to prevent this from happening in the future.

"The safety of our consumers is our top priority. We are putting systems in place to prevent the occurrence of similar issues in the future," the company wrote.

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DelpixartiStock(MIAMI) -- U.S. diplomatic personnel residing in Cuba's capital who felt ill after hearing loud, high-pitched sounds or feeling pressure sensations suffered damage to a part of the inner ear responsible for maintaining balance, according to a study by the doctors who first treated them.

Beginning in the fall of 2016, more than two dozen American government employees posted at the U.S. embassy in Havana reported neurological, cognitive and emotional issues following exposure to an unknown, directed energy source inside their homes, according to physicians at the University of Miami who examined the patients and revealed their findings in a scientific paper published Wednesday in the journal Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology.

"Objective testing showed evidence of a balance disorder that affects the inner ear and a unique pattern of cognitive and behavioral dysfunction," Dr. Michael Hoffer, the lead author of the study, said in a press release.

The patients complained of intense ear pain, hearing loss, headaches, dizziness and difficulty with balance, as well as increased anxiety and irritability, doctors found, but who or what caused the damage is still unknown.

"The possible sources and the medical findings we have here do not have a quick or easy solution," said Dr. Carey Balaban, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who contributed to the study. "I wish someone could tell us that right now. I wish we'd have that."

The study is the first to look at patients as soon as four days after they were exposed to sounds or pressure -- a time period described as the "acute presentation" of symptoms, meaning very soon after they began to show. The study examined 25 people with symptoms and 10 people who were their roommates but did not have any symptoms.

Wednesday's paper differed from a study published in February by a team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania, which found patients may have suffered "a possible acquired brain injury."

The study released Wednesday found the symptoms didn't resemble "more classic traumatic brain injury," but did find there was injury to the ears that affected the brain.

The authors of this latest study also emphasized that it further showed that the patients' symptoms weren't stemming from their imaginations or caused by anxieties.

Balaban described it as "measurable, quantifiable evidence that something really did happen."

"It's not just hysteria," Balaban added.

Hoffer, who served for 21 years in the military and has experience in blast trauma, highlighted the ways the study, and the situation, are unique.

"I never even got this phone call when I was in the military, and the phone call was: 'This is the State Department, we have a problem,'" Hoffer said in a press conference in Miami on Wednesday.

A State Department spokesperson told ABC News that while it has "welcomed any clinical publication that would help the scientific community better understand what may have caused the observed symptoms" it was not informed about this study's publication.

"The State Department reviewed, cleared, and in February 2018 informed Dr. Hoffer that it had no objection to his proposed New England Journal of Medicine article," the spokesperson said. "With regard to his Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology article, the Department was not informed of nor aware of this publication. The Department did not authorize or clear on this study."

But Hoffer told reporters Wednesday that the State Department "saw the study, they cleared the study, they had to clear the study. In fact, the study spent nine months in the state department getting cleared to make sure it didn't have any classified information in it."

The source of the localized noise or pressure sensation that caused the symptoms has not been determined, though the study found it would be "imprudent to exclude any potential directed or non-directed energy sources at this time."

"We have incontrovertible objective evidence that they had an abnormality when they represented acutely," Hoffer said. "What caused it, who did it, why it was done, we don't know any of those things."

Hoffer acknowledged frustrations with the lack of answers but said studies were ongoing.

"I think its vexing for all Americans, all people around the world, that people can be harmed and not know why. But we have to let the science play out," he said.

Balaban, the only professor on the study not from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said he's currently doing a study sponsored by the Office of Naval Research to "try and get an idea of what are likely possibilities."

"I want to make it imminently clear that we don't know what they were exposed to and certainly can't make any inferences as to whether it was deliberate or inadvertent -- no idea," Balaban said of the patients.

According to Balaban, there are a number of easily purchased items that could be used, like pest-control devices, and there have been other examples of biological exposure or directed energy that could cause such symptoms.

"These are in the safe range but it shows you the technology is there and could be placed inside a room that could do such a thing," Balaban said.

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Alicia Lee(NEW YORK) -- Lots of kids have a lovey, toy or blanket that's really important to them.

But for a child with a disability, these objects are quite literally irreplaceable.

Such is the case for Tristan Lee, a 10-year-old boy from central Indiana. He has a blanket that he's bonded with, and it's the only one he will use.

"Summer or winter, and it's a cape too," his mom, Alicia Lee, told Good Morning America. "He's comforted by it and it helps calm him."

But the beloved blanket is showing major signs of wear and tear. So Lee took to Twitter to see if anyone out there might have the same blanket before it falls apart completely.

Okay Twitter, I need some help. I have a little guy who is obssesed with his blanket. Yes, he is older..he is also disabled. I have searched ebay for years, with no luck. So, help? It is a plush throw originally sold at Kohls (almost positive).

— Ya know, Jolly Stuff (@AliciLee) December 11, 2018

"When I say he won't use another blanket, it means he would be cold without it," Lee told GMA. It's not just a lovey. And while I can currently keep sewing up rips and holes, one day that might not be possible."

Lee is almost positive she purchased the blanket at Kohl's about six years ago and it is from a company called Big One Throw.

She's in touch with the company and they, as well as others, have offered to send similar alternatives.

"People are so kind and have offered a lot of alternatives. We have over two dozen throws we've tried over the years. I have made him blankets," Lee said.

But Tristan, she said, needs this exact blanket.

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miodrag ignjatovic/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Christmas is the season to be jolly, the songs tell us, but that is not the case for some moms who feel the burden of doing it all.

“I take on 98 percent and my husband takes on about 2 percent,” said Danielle Shermer, a mother of two from Dallas, Texas.

“I have to wrap the presents. I have to plan our meal for Christmas,” she said. “I have to buy all the food for Christmas. I have to move the elf every night.”

The idea of women doing it all for the holidays was portrayed on the big screen in the 2017 comedy A Bad Moms Christmas about three moms who rebel against all they are expected to do in the holiday season.

“You’re a mom … moms don’t enjoy, we give joy,” one character says in the movie.

The way the characters feel in the movie is is not far from real-life, experts say.

“They were so worried about making the holidays magic for everyone else that they really started to hate the holidays,” said Gemma Hartley, the author of Fed Up, a new book about the unpaid, invisible work women do. "When it comes to the holiday workload, we really need to start retraining the way that we think about care work and emotional labor so men and women can start taking it on equally."

For men to jump in and help out over the holidays, it’s a skill that takes time to learn, according to Hartley.

“It takes time for them to learn initiative when it comes to emotional labor," she said.

There are ways that partners can communicate about expectations and the need for help without devolving into a pre-Christmas argument, according to relationship expert Bela Gandhi.

Here are Gandhi's three tips:

1. Know what you need: "You know your partner and you know what their strengths are. Ask them how they can best help you. But first, you have to ask yourself, 'How can he help me?'"

2. Be specific in your request: "Your partner wants you to be happy and when you give them specific requests, they will most likely comply."

3. Discuss at a peaceful time: "Maybe it's after dinner. Maybe when it's when you're going to bed. Then have the conversation and watch how things can get better. It's amazing."

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Peopleimages/iStock(NEW YORK) -- ‘Tis the season for office parties and other social events. But while an extrovert may relish the chance to chit-chat and dance the night away, the super shy among us may have trouble making small talk and require more than a few drinks to lower their inhibitions.

It’s a strategy that may backfire, though, according to a new study. Naming it “hangxiety,” the study researchers found that people who were considered to be very shy were more likely to experience intense anxiety the day after drinking -- in addition, of course, to a hangover.

“There is a reason why alcohol is sometimes referred to as ‘Liquid Courage,’” psychotherapist Tiffanie L. Davis Henry, Ph.D., told ABC News. “Alcohol is notorious for relieving us of our inhibitions and giving us the gumption to do and say things that we normally might keep to ourselves.”

But the opposite side of that coin is that a lot of what might have happened while drinking “may not have happened had they been sober. So it’s typical to rethink and agonize over missteps from the previous night of drinking,” Henry noted.

Professor Celia Morgan, of the University of Exeter, said in a statement that although the alcohol might help ease social tension in the moment, it could have a “rebound” effect the next day.

The study authors added that social anxiety disorder had been associated with alcohol use disorder in the past, but until now there had been little research into the effect of alcohol on anxiety levels in highly shy people.

They hope that the findings will encourage shy people to embrace their personalities rather than drinking too much.

“This might help transition people away from alcohol use,” Morgan said about being introverted. “It’s a positive trait. It’s OK to be quiet.”

“The important thing here, whether talking about an upper, like caffeine, or a downer, like alcohol, is to know how it affects you. It's typically not OK to ‘self-medicate,’ especially when the ‘medication’ -- alcohol -- doesn't fix the problem,” Henry said. “We must look at the risk-benefit of the situation and understand that while alcohol may ease your nerves in the moment, it may also have negative consequences if done in excess.”

Henry also had some advice for super shy people who need help getting through a social event without drinking:

• Hold yourself to a drinking maximum. If you know that you get too wild after three drinks, limit yourself to only two.

• Don't force it. Ease up on yourself. Don't push yourself into a situation that you know will make you super uncomfortable. Now, we all have to do things that we just don't want to do from time to time, but get comfortable saying no if you know that the only way you'll make it through is to drink in excess. If that's the case, it just not healthy for you to put yourself in that situation and you don't need to be there.

• Take baby steps. If social situations give you anxiety, you're not alone. Plenty of people suffer from social anxiety and cope by easing themselves into social situations slowly. Try things like giving yourself a predetermined time limit if you commit to going to a gathering; ask a friend to tag along; and talk to at least three people, then say your goodbyes and head home proud of yourself for making it through.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- What does it really take to get a Victoria’s Secret model body?

Genetics, yes, and, as it turns out, lots of working out.

Many Victoria's Secret models who walked the runway this year like Devon Windsor and Nadine Leopold swear by P.Volve, a low-impact strength training and toning workout.

P.Volve founder Stephen Pasterino showed ABC News' Good Morning America the VS model workout routine, which focuses on key areas like abs, thighs and glutes.

"You do not have to be 6 foot tall and genetically blessed to get that body,” Pasterino said.

Pasterino showed GMA eight simple moves -- with no equipment -- that can help you tone up at home:

1. 3 o’clock – 1 o’clock step

The 3 o’clock – 1 o’clock step is extremely effective in toning thighs and glutes. And can be broken down into three easy steps.

Start in the seated “p" position which is similar to a squat but not as low to the ground. Step your foot from a 3 o’clock position to a 1 o’clock position and go into a small sit. To complete the move, step back into the original position.

Pro Tip: Do eight reps of each exercise to see maximum benefits from the workout.

2. Step back and squeeze

This move is sure to give your glutes a workout. Pasterino says it can give you better results than any squat or lunge.

Start in the p-sit position. Step one foot back land on the ball of your foot with your heel up. Engage your butt and hold. Step back to the original position and repeat.

3. Step back and rotate

Start in the p-sit position with your hands behind your head.

Step back to engage your back butt -- once engaged, rotate your torso over the opposite side leg -- stretching through your stomach.

Rotate back straight and step back into the original position.

4. Open door, close door

Start in the p-sit position.

Take your foot from the 3 o’clock or 9 o'clock position -- lift -- open your hips -- and extend leg back to the 6 o’clock position.

5. Superman butt lift

Start with your one leg back and your arms at chest height.

Reach your arms forward and your back foot lifted simultaneously -- hold -- and lower back down to original position.

6. Ab stretch and squeeze

Start with your arm straight at shoulder height and leg bent with your knee at hip height.

Extend your leg forward to 12 o’clock while simultaneously extending your arm up toward the ceiling and back to the 6 o’clock position.

Reach through your stomach -- when changing direction -- squeeze and pull through your stomach and back to original position.

7. High bridge squeeze

Start in the bridge position with your knees stacked over your ankles and your arms locked out straight.

Press your hips to the ceiling through your glutes -- hold -- and slowly lower down halfway.

Pro Tip: To challenge yourself further you can add a “p” ball which will add more tension to the inner thighs and the glutes.

8. Hip-shifted butt lift

Start with your back leg hovered above the floor.

Shift your front hip slightly back to the 6 o’clock position.

Point your back toe, and squeeze slowly through your glute bring your foot towards the ceiling.


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DebbiSmirnoff/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A company behind Jimmy Dean sausage has issued a voluntary recall of more than 29,000 pounds of product due to reports of "small, string-like fragments of metal" being found in the food.

CTI Foods LLC, a co-manufacturer of the sausage, said on Monday that "a few consumers" had reached out to the company saying they'd found the metal in Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links made with pork and turkey.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its statement that there had been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the links to the company.

"Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages... CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product," CTI Foods said in a news release posted on the Jimmy Dean website.

The Owingsville, Kentucky company said about 2,845 cases of the sausage had been made at one plant location on Aug. 4.

Each package has the establishment code M19085 or P19085 as well as a "use by" date of Jan. 31, 2019 and the UPC number "0-77900-36519-5." Cases containing the product bear the lot number A638216800 or A638216801, the company said.

CTI Foods said that no injuries had been reported with the recall. The company urged consumers who found the product in their homes to remove the UPC and date code from the package, throw out the product and call 1-855-382-3101.

"Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA," CTI Foods said.

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benkayam/iStock(NEW YORK) -- What's in a name?

Well, according to the experts at Nameberry, not gender, at least for a growing number of parents.

Nonbinary names are a hot trend, according to the experts. But unlike the trend of names past, where a girl might go by the name "Charlie" or "Jamie," the names now coming into fashion are truly gender-neutral.

"Parents are not trying to make their daughters seem more boyish or their sons more feminine, but to give their babies names that help them transcend strict binary gender identity," Pam Satran, co-creator and CEO of Nameberry, told Good Morning America.

"These new names and new way of thinking about gender-neutral names is to sidestep the entire idea of gender in the binary sense of feminine and masculine. The names in this new ideal don't have any gender identity at all," she said.

"Rather than names that have been used over decades or centuries that have become identified with one gender or the other, they're newer names used for babies without regard to whether they're girls or boys."

She used the popular nonbinary name "Justice" as an example.

"Justice as a name can accommodate any gender identity the person chooses and can be fluid over time. That fits the new ideal."

The 10 most popular nonbinary names are:











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Kelsea King and her two children. Courtesy Kelsea King(NEW YORK) -- Mom shamers can sit down now.

Because when you think about it, they will come for you no matter what you do. Breastfeeding? Don't do it in public. Formula feeding? How could you?

The truth is mom bullies will have something to say no matter what you do.

In a now-viral post, Kelsea King, a Tampa, Florida, mom of two, shared the wise words of her friend Alee Zering:

"Mom-ing is hard when breastfeeding in public is offensive but formula feeding is frowned upon, when co-sleeping is dangerous but rocking your baby to sleep is wrong, when sleep training means you don’t love your baby but not having your kid on a schedule means you have no control of your kid, when putting your child in a bouncer/walker is detrimental to their development but holding them too much is spoiling them, when being a stay at home Mom means you’ve given up your career / dreams but putting them in childcare and going back to work means you’re going to miss out on all of the important things, when getting kids their shots is injecting them with poison but if you don’t you’re endangering the world, when you’re trying to be confident in your motherhood but everyone wants to tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

Mom bullies are the worst.

So stop.

Just love, encourage, support, and give a mom a cup of coffee.”

Her post has been shared more than 13,000 times.

King told Good Morning America the post has resonated with so many because "we see ourselves in Alee [Zering]. We have most likely debated each topic she spoke on and have heard the mixed views from others. We have all seen or experienced some sort of 'mom-bullying,' many times on social media, so it is nice to see such encouraging and refreshing words from another mom for a change."

When she first saw Zering's words, King told GMA she "saw myself in each sentence." Her quote, King said, "reminds everyone that we are doing the best we can, there is no 'right way,' and there is no need to worry about the opinions of others."

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Charday Penn/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New researchers found that women with heart attack symptoms wait approximately 37 minutes longer than men before reaching out for potentially life-saving medical care.

Watch the report from ABC's Good Morning America:

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MJFelt/iStock(TORONTO) -- The holidays are a time that most people look forward to -- the festivities, the fun and a chance to see family. But new research from Toronto General Hospital shows that it may actually be a dangerous time for those discharged from the hospital.

Patients sent home from the hospital during the December holiday period are less likely to have a follow-up appointment, and have a higher risk of death and readmission within 30 days.

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), a Canadian group that conducts studies that evaluate health care delivery and outcomes, analyzed over 200,000 adults and children discharged from hospitals during the two-week December holiday period in 2002-2016. Those discharged during the Christmas holiday period were found to have a 16 percent higher risk of death or readmission within the first seven days.

In addition, those discharged during the holiday were also 39 percent less likely to have a follow-up appointment in the first seven days.

Finally, it was found that per 100,000 people during this time, there were 26 more deaths, 188 excess re-hospitalizations, 483 extra visits to an emergency department and 2,999 fewer follow-ups.

The authors attribute these results to limited access to outpatient care, difficulty in booking appointments and reduced levels of staffing. This, in combination with holiday festivities that often lead to excessive stress, increased drinking and lack of sleep can destabilize chronic medical conditions.

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Courtesy Ed Dentel(RICHMOND, Va.) -- When Ed Dentel updated his Apple Watch on Thursday night, he didn't expect it to upend his weekend, much less change his life.

The 46-year-old communications consultant from Richmond, Virginia, does taekwondo with his family three times a week, bikes and skis frequently, and had no history of heart problems.

He said he'd installed the software update with the electrocardiogram app to play around with it.

"The application on the launch sounded off right away with atrial fibrillation -- not something I've ever heard of, but since I'm in pretty decent health and never had a problem before, I didn't give it much thought. I figured something was glitchy, so I set everything down turned in for the night," Dentel told ABC News.

On Friday morning, over breakfast with his 7-year old daughter, he put his watch back on.

"Right away: AFib. So I shut everything down and turned it back on and tried it again. Same result, same result, same result," he said.

He asked his wife to try. Hers came back normal. Twice.

"I put it on my left wrist, on top, AFib. I put it on my left wrist, on the bottom, AFib. I switch to my right wrist. Same thing. So, starting to get a little bit alarmed here," Dentel said.

Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib or AF, is a specific kind of irregular heart rhythm. If left untreated, it can weaken heart muscles and increase the risk of stroke.

Dentel drove to a nearby urgent care center. The parking lot was full, the waiting room was crowded, so he almost left, he said.

"I thought, 'This is silly. I've got meetings, I've got stuff to do. I don't have time to sit here and wait,'" he recalled. "But I looked down and checked the watch one more time, and it says 'AFib.'"

Checking in, Dentel said he felt like a hypochondriac explaining that his watch told him something was wrong. But he was quickly given an EKG by a technician, who called for a doctor, who said, "Yup, you're in AFib. This thing may have just saved your life."

"That's when I started learning about what AFib is and what its impact can be and how important it is to get notice of it really early in your life," Dentel told ABC News. "I talked to the doctor a little bit, and he was trying to decide whether it made sense to do an immediate transfer to a hospital."

Because of his relatively young age and good health, the doctor referred him to a cardiologist for an outpatient visit. After an exam, a review of the EKG and an ultrasound, his diagnosis was confirmed.

"I was dealing with a case of atrial fibrillation that I never knew I had and probably wouldn't have known anytime soon," Dentel said.

In fact, earlier this year, he'd had chest pain and was diagnosed with heartburn after an EKG produced normal results.

"So just as recently as late spring or early summer, everything was ideal and perfect. Sometime after that ... it kicked off," he said.

The Patient First urgent care facility did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. Dentel's cardiologist, Dr. Samuel S. Wu, was not immediately available for comment.

Apple declined to comment on this story.

What is atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

AFib is the most common kind of irregular heartbeat, according to the American Heart Association's website, which defines it as "the abnormal firing of electrical impulses causes the atria (the top chambers in the heart) to quiver (or fibrillate)."

The most common symptom is a fluttering heartbeat, while others include an abnormally fast heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness or chest pain.

AFib can result in heart palpitations, complications, weakened heart muscle, and an increased risk of stroke, said Michael N. Cho, a cardiologist at Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown, New York.

In Dentel's case, he had a rapid and irregular heartbeat, even though he appeared asymptomatic.

"It looks like my heart's a jazz drummer," he said, describing his EKG results. "I can be sitting there, and my heart rate will go from 70 to 90 to 110 and back to 60. When I look at my wife's readout on the watch, it's very nice and even and consistent."

Last week, Dentel's pulse, usually under 70, was 100 to 120, alarming doctors, who considered hospitalizing him. His blood pressure jumped to about 160 over 110.

AFib can be linked to smoking, alcohol abuse, high blood, obesity, which don't apply to Dentel, he said. He started medication on Friday and has follow-up appointments this week.

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest version of the company's smart watch. With this latest software update, all hardware versions can monitor heartbeats, but the user has to download the software and turn it on in the device's settings. Only the Series 4 can produce the EKGs. None of the devices can tell you if you are having a heart attack. AFib is a precursor to potential blood clots, stroke and heart attack.

Doctors said they're taking a wait-and-see approach with the new Watch.

"It is potentially helpful in these small instances," said Cho, who did not treat Dentel. "The incidence is higher as you get older -- if you had Apple Watches on 80-year-olds, you'd have a high incidence of AFib. If you have mostly 20-, 30- or 40-year-olds, you're not going to see that much."

Cho said he has not spent enough time or reviewed enough data to draw a conclusion about the Apple Watch, but said the fitness trackers do not always have the most reliable information.

"I have patients come in and tell me, 'My heart rate's 100,'" Cho said. "But when you put a more accurate monitor on them, you don't necessarily see the same data. With the Apple watch, we'll see."

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VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Modern Family star Sarah Hyland is going public with her serious health struggles.

In an in-depth profile for Self magazine, Hyland, 28, reveals that she recently had a second kidney transplant after her first transplant was rejected. She also had surgery for endometriosis and a hernia. All together she has endured 16 surgeries.

Hyland was born with kidney dysplasia, which she says forced her to live a life where she says she was "always having to be looked after, having to be cared for." Because of her disease, her kidneys eventually went into failure and her father gave her one of his in 2012. But then her body began to reject the new kidney.

"Christmas break, New Year's, Thanksgiving, my birthday, all of that spent in the hospital," she said of her horrific 2016.

The next year included dialysis and another transplant, this time from her younger brother Ian.

"I was very depressed. When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault. It's not," she told the magazine. "For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn't want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad."

The actress wants others to know it's OK to ask for help during tough times.

"For anybody that wants to reach out to somebody but doesn't really know how because they're too proud or they think that they'll be looked upon as weak, it's not a shameful thing to say. It's not a shameful thing to share," she said.

More than a year after her second transplant, Hyland and her brother are both doing well. She has a new outlook on life but still deals with the pressures of being a famous actress and going public with her health issues.

"Being held up to this sort of pedestal of how you're supposed to look. Sometimes I have complete meltdowns in the middle of fittings,” she added, referring to her lower abdomen and how the transplant shows in certain outfits.

The surgeries for her endometriosis and her hernia came this year while she was recovering from the second transplant. Hyland said there most likely will be more surgeries but she's coping the best she can.

"That is a goal, to not just listen to my body more, but listen and do something about it because I tend to push myself," she said. "I’m stable. I'm thriving. I'm super happy with life ... I have the greatest family one could ask for. I'm on a show that is absolutely unbelievable and surreal."

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ktsimage/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Christine Franke was a 25-year-old college student when she was shot dead in her Orlando apartment on Oct. 21, 2001.

Though DNA was left behind at the crime scene, years went by without an arrest.

The killing and the wait for justice devastated her mother and relatives.

"It's a terrible thing not knowing," said her mother, Tina Franke. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

But all that changed in November when a suspect was arrested after police say he was identified through genetic genealogy.

"After all this time, I wasn't sure we would ever find out," Tina Franke told ABC News weeks after the arrest. "They had DNA all along and just nobody ever matched up. I thought, you know, possibly he would be dead. How can you live 17 years under the radar?"

A new law enforcement tool arrives on the scene

Genetic genealogy only got on the public radar in April after the first public arrest through this DNA-and-family-tracing technique.

Since then, genetic genealogy has helped lead to 24 other suspect identification, according to genetic genealogy expert CeCe Moore.

Moore is a chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, the company that's worked on the majority of the cold cases cracked through genetic genealogy this year.

Parabon has made 23 successful DNA identifications this year -- including in the Christine Franke killing. Two other cases not connected to Parabon were also publicly solved this year through genetic genealogy, Moore said.

Through genetic genealogy, an unknown killer's DNA from a crime scene can be identified through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to a genealogy database. This allows police to create a much larger family tree than using law enforcement databases like the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, in which an exact match is needed in most states, CeCe Moore said.

"In a genetic genealogy database we can reverse engineer the [suspect's family] tree from their distant" relatives who have submitted DNA, Moore told ABC News. "So it doesn't matter that they haven't had their DNA tested through another arrest or crime scene, we don't need their DNA. We need somebody from their family to have tested in order to resolve these cases."

Parabon's cracked cases range from the 1986 rape and murder of a 12-year-old Washington state girl to the 1988 killing of an 8-year-old girl in Indiana, where the unsolved slaying had "haunted the community" for 30 years, according to the prosecutor.

But Moore called solving Christine Franke's 2001 killing the longest genetic genealogy case she has worked on, citing the suspect's large family and difficult-to-trace family tree.

Michael Fields, a detective with the Orlando Police Department who worked the Franke case, partnered with Moore this summer.

Fields said they began with two relatives of Christine Franke's unknown killer who had voluntarily submitted their DNA to GEDmatch -- a third-party genealogy database that permits people to upload their DNA -- to find other family members.

From there, tracing the massive family tree began, Fields told ABC News.

Eventually, Fields said he interviewed family members of the unknown suspect and zeroed in on one woman who had two sons in Orlando.

The woman voluntarily gave her DNA to police -- and that sample confirmed she was the mother of Franke's suspected killer, Fields said.

Investigators then narrowed the search down to one of the two sons -- Benjamin Holmes.

Police placed Holmes under surveillance and took a sample of his DNA from a discarded cigar butt, Fields said. The DNA on that cigar matched the DNA left behind by the suspected killer at the Christine Franke scene, Fields said.

The moment Fields learned of the match "was a feeling that I thought I would never have," he said.

And sharing the news with Christine Franke's mother was "more emotional than learning for myself," Fields added.

For Tina Franke, the news brought an overwhelming wave of relief.

"I couldn't believe it finally happened," she said.

When Holmes was taken into custody in November, he "denied having any knowledge or being near the crime scene," Orlando police said.

Holmes entered a plea of not guilty. His public defender, Robert Wesley, told ABC News, "We don't discuss clients or their cases without explicit consent and directions to do so from the client."

'Golden State Killer' opens the floodgates

The moment Fields realized genetic genealogy was the potential key to solving the Christine Franke killing was when he saw the April arrest of the suspected "Golden State Killer," he said.

The "Golden State Killer" case was the first public arrest this year linked to genetic genealogy, Moore said, though Parabon was not involved in the investigation.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the "Golden State Killer" was believed to have committed over a dozen murders and multiple rapes in Northern and Southern California, instilling fear in families, young women and suburban neighborhoods.

As the years went by, his crimes seemingly stopped -- but police kept investigating.

In the early 2000s, authorities obtained the unknown killer's DNA at one crime scene: the 1980 double murder of Lyman and Charlene Smith, who were bludgeoned to death at their Ventura County home.

Investigators then started reviewing rape kits -- which contained DNA samples from victims -- in other counties, said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

This year, investigators plugged the mystery killer's DNA into the genealogy website GEDmatch.

Based on the pool of people on GEDmatch, investigators built a family tree of the unknown killer’s relatives who had submitted their DNA to the database on their own.

Authorities narrowed the search based on age, location and other characteristics, leading them to 72-year-old former police officer Joseph DeAngelo.

Investigators placed DeAngelo under surveillance and eventually collected his DNA from a tissue left in a trash. They then plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo's DNA to the DNA gathered at multiple "Golden State Killer" crime scenes, Schubert said.

DeAngelo, accused of 13 murders and other charges, is awaiting trial in Sacramento County. He has yet to enter a plea.

His public defender declined to comment to ABC News about the genetic genealogy component of the case.

Privacy concerns

As genetic genealogy cracks more and more cases, its use is also drawing criticism from some civil liberties advocates who say it unfairly gives up the privacy of law-abiding people because of their family members.

"Our DNA is essentially like a blueprint to ourselves," said Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "DNA can tell us about hereditary diseases potentially, our ancestry... there are already attempts to tie genetic information to personality traits, to mental health, to other predictors of life outcomes. So giving that deeply detailed information over to government investigators is troubling in that it just exposes so much information about ourselves."

Eidelman said the use of genetic genealogy by law enforcement "compounds the privacy harms and concerns in terms of one person's genetic material actually disclosing information about so many others -- including people who are no longer alive, people who have yet to be alive."

"It's a frustrating position to be in, because we should be able to enjoy the benefits of technology ... without having to fear that that information will then go into the hands of the government or others," Eidelman said.

Eidelman said setting guidelines now for what is acceptable is imperative as the use of genetic genealogy by law enforcement increases.

"It may end up being the case when you're thinking you're sharing information for only one purpose, the reality may be that that information gets used for very different things than what you intended to share it for."

But Moore stressed that direct-to-consumer DNA companies, including AncestryDNA and 23AndMe, do not allow their DNA samples to be searched by authorities.

Those companies, however, do allow users to download their raw data. And third-party genealogy databases like GEDmatch permit people to upload their DNA information, making the samples widely available for searches -- and that's how genetic genealogists have been cracking these cold cases.

"The only way your DNA can be used for our purposes is if you go through the steps of downloading it and uploading it to GED Match," Moore stressed. "We're not using your DNA unless you've gone through that process."

"People give their permission when they go on our site," added GEDmatch co-founder Curtis Rogers. "We make it very clear to them that law enforcement is involved and if you have any concerns, do not put your information on our site."

"Privacy is not lost by anyone on GEDmatch. No DNA is visible on GEDmatch," Rogers told ABC News. "The people who would have their privacy lost would be someone who is a direct family member."

He said he's received emails from family members of criminals -- including the daughter of a serial killer -- who want their DNA included on GEDmatch to potentially help solve cold cases.

Moore agreed.

"A lot of people are uploading to GEDmatch for the expressed purpose of helping us resolve more of these cold cases," Moore said. "I understand the privacy concerns, but I think in this particular argument the good to society, to individuals, far outweighs the risks."

"For me, it's all about the families," Moore said. "We can't fix the damage ... we can only help give some answers and peace."

Tina Franke, the mother of slain Orlando student Christine Franke, said she's "all for" law enforcement's use of genetic genealogy. "Maybe it's not fair to invade privacy, but he invaded my whole life," Tina Franke said of her daughter's suspected killer. "He changed my life in the blink of an eye. And if it can help catch a criminal, that's more important to me than anything."

'It's going to be a game changer'

Now that genetic genealogy is in the hands of authorities, Fields, who called it "an unbelievable tool," predicts "it's going to be a game changer in how we do business."

But the Orlando detective added, "Not everyone is going to have the opportunity to use it, because it's expensive, time-consuming and it can be really difficult."

"I just hope that people use it and can solve as many cases as they can," he said.

To Tina Franke, genetic genealogy's biggest strength is its ability to give answers, and possibly closure.

"I hope it helps another family who is struggling with similar circumstances," Franke said. "I would want the same relief for them as we felt."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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