WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Emma Rothman of Cranford went into cardiac arrest during a routine physical exam to qualify for her school volleyball team. She was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure and only the immediate availability of a heart transplant saved her life. Emma has since dedicated herself to educating the public about the necessity of heart and other organ transplants and donation — and she’s resumed playing volleyball.
MAN OF THE YEAR: Arthur Thomas of Lawrenceville acted as father of the bride at the wedding of Jeni Septien of Pittsburgh. Classy and admirable under any circumstances — except that Thomas’s circumstances involved being within days of dying of congestive heart failure ten years earlier, and receiving the transplanted heart of Septien’s father, a crime victim who had been removed from life support.
MOST WELCOME TREND: Putting the squeeze on waist trainers. There’s a reason why wasp-waisted corsets went out of fashion — they can lead to side effects ranging from skin irritation to fainting to kidney failure, as one aspiring model found out. So a full-bore assault against waist trainers on The Doctors morning talk show and a lawsuit against a waist trainer company endorsed by a Kardashian are reasons to breathe easier. Don’t put in on if you have to suck it in — proper diet and exercise work better.
LEAST WELCOME TREND: Health insurance companies deciding that treatments that allow you to eat and breathe normally are frivolous, self-indulgent, and cosmetic. Someone may have to learn sign language because her jaw won’t stop growing, and a man whose neck keloids are also affecting his hearing, have had to resort to online panhandling to raise funds for the medical help they need. And a patient in Toms River is being denied access to medical marijuana because her chemotherapy isn’t cancer related!
HONORARY JERSEY GUY: Comedian Tracy Morgan of New York City came up with a great way to say thank to the folks at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital aided in his recovery being hit by a Wal-Mart truck on the New Jersey Turnpike: He hosted a benefit at the State Theater in New Brunswick. (No doubt that the nine-figure settlement he allegedly got from Wal-Mart aided in Morgan’s recovery, too.)
HONORARY JERSEY GIRLS: When Shelly Cesario of Pennsylvania made a cyber-appeal to Jon Bon Jovi to meet with her terminally ill mother Carol, it turned out that her timing couldn’t have been better. The meeting was set up at Jon’s newly-opened B.E.A.T. Center in Tom’s River, which which provides a food pantry, culinary instruction, social services, and a South Jersey branch of his pay or volunteer Soul Kitchen restaurant.
DIS-HONORABLE MENTION: For most of New Jersey’s home health care workers, the low wages and prohibitively expensive commutes have been problematic enough. But now that the state has privatized Medicaid-financed home health care, there’s no relief in sight — especially now that reimbursement levels have dropped to their lowest in twenty years.
HONORABLE MENTION: Everybody’s got an excuse for not getting a flu shot, but let’s get real: most of us just don’t like getting needles. So we salute the bedside manner of The American Lung Association’s “aspiring doctor” Gavin for encouraging us not to be such big babies about it.