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HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA

Medical Breakthrough That Has Never Been Done Before on a Human; Woman Donates Her Kidney to a Stranger; Nanny Brings Hope and Inspiration to Orphans with AIDS

Aired November 22, 2008 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Good morning and welcome to HOUSE CALL. Thanks so much for joining us.
Today, we're going to bring you some inspirational stories, extraordinary people showing you how to take charge of your own health and help in ways big and small.

First up, a medical breakthrough that has never before been done on a human. I found this fascinating. You're going to have to see this.

And generosity that touches your heart. A woman donates her kidney to a total stranger.

Plus, a nanny brings hope and inspiration to orphans of AIDS, providing them a life that they have never had.

We start, though, with the medical headlines. First up, the FDA goes abroad. In light of all these concerns we've been talking about over the safety of imported products, the Food and Drug Administration has opened its first-ever offices overseas in China. There are a total of three bureaus there now in China. And the agency is awaiting approval to open offices in India and Latin America and Europe as well in the coming months.

And over the past year, we've talked about this a lot. The FDA has been criticized for failing to prevent a string of contaminated products from entering the United States. The agency hopes the oversea moves will help reassure consumers about the safety of the $2 trillion worth of goods imported in the United States every year.

Also making headlines, a medical breakthrough. Surgeons in Spain successfully transplanted a human trachea, engineered using the patient's own stem cells. It's an amazing story and one that experts hope will highlight how stem cells and tissue engineering could radically improve the ability to treat patients with all kinds of serious diseases.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Behind every medical breakthrough, there is a story. And you're looking at one. 30-year-old Claudia Castillo playing with her kids. She is proof that stem cells can make a difference. Just a few months ago, a scene like this would have been impossible. Her lungs and trachea were badly damaged by a terrible bout with tuberculosis. Look here, critical narrows, not enough air getting into her lungs.

So, her doctors decided to build her a new airway, using adult stem cells taken from her bone marrow, not from embryonic stem cells that cause so much controversy. It has never been done before in a human.

PAOLO MACCHIARINI, SURGEON: The jump between the animal investigation and the human investigation was a big sort of mystery to me as well, but we succeeded.

GUPTA: Pictures tell it best. Take a look at this. Doctors took a donor trachea from a 51-year old who died. For six weeks, they methodically stripped away all the cells, leaving just a matrix or scaffolding. Then slowly, they began to build up a new trachea, using Claudia's stem cells and cells from a healthy part of her trachea.

The transplant was next. Rare shots inside the operating room. Adult stem cell transplants are not new. A heart valve is regrown in April of 2007. In 2004, scientists rebuilt bladder muscles using injected stem cells. And bone marrow is commonly transplanted to treat leukemia and other types of cancer.

Four days after her transplant, doctors say Claudia's wind pipe was almost indistinguishable from a healthy patient's. Today she has no complications and no signs of rejecting the transplanted tissue.

CLAUDIO CASTILLO, TRANSPLANT PATIENT (through translator): It's a long process, but four months after they operated on me, it's much better. I'm fine now.

GUPTA: Doctors say they hope their success will open doors for future transplants to be performed and to help even more patients like Claudia return to normal lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You know, every day all over the world, there are people working to make life a little bit better for those in need. We call them CNN Heroes. But for HOUSE CALL, they're called our medical marvels.

Now, imagine finding out you need a kidney transplant and no one in your family is a match. One grandmother in Tacoma, Washington, well, she needed a miracle. And she found it from a total stranger in the most unusual place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNAMARIE AUSNES: In 1990, I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. It's genetic. And there is no cure for this disease. You know, I have this lovely little granddaughter. And I want to be so involved in her life. I'm missing out. And I just started praying for God to please send me an angel. SANDRA ANDERSEN: I can help you down here, sir. I work at Starbucks in Tacoma, Washington. I'm the morning person. I work from 5:00 in the morning until 1:00. Anna Marie is one of my customers. She comes in every day. And this particular morning, I could tell that she just wasn't feeling real well. And so, I asked her what was wrong.

AUSNES: I told her that I had been placed on the national kidney transplant list.

ANDERSEN: I just looked at her, and I said, you know, I want to test for you. My name is Sandra Andersen and I'm a barista for Starbucks and I'm donating a kidney to a customer.

I went and had my blood tested. I sat down with my family. And we got as much information as we possibly could. Then, the day came when I was able to tell her. Here's this long line to the door, and I just reached over and grabbed her hand, and I said, I'm a match. And we both just stood there and bawled.

AUSNES: It was a joyful moment for me. I've been praying for an angel. I never in a million years would have thought it would have been my barista. Never.

ANDERSEN: I knew in my heart this was a time for me to step up. And I found out that I could. So it's pretty awesome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: What an incredible story. Stories like that, many people who do receive kidney transplants live happy and healthy lives. But keep in mind, there are no guarantees when it comes to this. About 355,000 people in the United States are currently on dialysis. This year alone, about 11,000 kidney transplants have been performed in the United States. Nearly 4,000 of them from living donors. And almost 80,000 people are still on a waiting list.

For more information on organ donation or kidney transplants, log onto kidney.org. You can also go to the united network for organ sharing at unos.org. They can help facilitate organ sharing among transplant centers as well.

CNN Heroes are the focus today on HOUSE CALL. Coming up, meet a nanny helping some small victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. And after 23 years in general practice, a doctor finds fulfillment in the simplest of ways. Plus, 41 trips to Mexico. This man brings hope when he never thought it was possible. Making a difference with artificial limbs and braces, free of charge.

Stay with us on HOUSE CALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Well, happy holidays, everybody. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And the turkey, of course, is the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast. So, in today's food for life, Judy Fortin has some tips to make sure you have some fun and that you don't get sick with food poisoning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Raw turkey can be a breeding ground for bacteria. So, careful handling is essential, starting with thawing.

SAMANTHA ENZMANN, CHEF: The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator.

FORTIN: Chef Samantha Enzmann instructs all her students to begin by washing their hands before and after handling raw poultry and meat. She warns them not to cross contaminate their work surfaces.

ENZMANN: As long as you don't use the same knife and the same side of the cutting board that you used for preparing raw food, you should be A-OK.

FORTIN: Roasting a turkey at the right temperature ensures that it won't be undercooked.

ENZMANN: Proper turkey temperature is anywhere from 165 degrees to 180. 180 is on the well-done side.

FORTIN: Don't forget to remove the plastic bags with giblets and the turkey neck. Samantha says for safety reasons, the only items she stuffs back into the cavity are vegetables, oranges and herbs for seasoning.

ENZMANN: No, you never cook stuffing in the bird. You run the risk of those raw poultry juices being absorbed into your stuffing.

FORTIN: Following simple safety tips will help make this a healthy holiday.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: So, you learn something new every day. You don't cook the stuffing inside the turkey. Good tips there, Judy. Thanks.

With the holiday season comes a spirit of giving. And here's a question for you. Just how much are you willing to give? Up next, from Malawi to Pennsylvania, you will be touched by the costly sacrifices two CNN Heroes are making to help those with nowhere else to turn. Stay with HOUSE CALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Well, welcome back. Our look at CNN Heroes continues with the heartening story of Marie Da Silva. As the nanny in Los Angeles, Marie looks after two kids. But miles away in her native Malawi, she is saving hundreds of others by pledging a considerable one-third of her monthly salary to educate and feed orphans of AIDS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIE DA SILVA: Children just bring joy to me. That's why I'm a nanny. They need to be surrounded by love. They need education. They need attention. If I can make that happen in Los Angeles, why can't I do it for children elsewhere?

I was born and bred in Malawi. We have hundreds and thousands of orphans, and most of them, of course, orphans by AIDS. They live in very bad conditions. It's literally poverty. I'm Marie Da Silva and my mission is to educate AIDS orphans in Malawi.

AIDS is like a plague in Malawi. I have 14 members of my family who have died of AIDS. When I visit Malawi, I visit my family at the graveyard. When I heard that the AIDS orphans would have no school, it touched me to say I need to help. The Jacaranda School is in the house that I grew up in. They study in my bedroom. They study in the pantry. They study in the garage. We have a lack of just about everything, but we give them courage. And they are doing amazingly well.

This is -- every month I sent in $1,000, about 30 percent of my monthly wages. I talk to my nanny friends. And today, there are nannies that give me $10 a month. I do this because I know that with children, they need it. When my father was dying, there was this huge Jacaranda tree outside that brought in light. For me, the Jacaranda tree symbolizes hope. And that's what I want to give the children at the Jacaranda school.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now, if helping someone else meant giving up your job, a chunk of your salary and your home, would you do it? That's exactly what Dr. Lawrence Stewart did in order to help provide care to some of the 45 million Americans struggling without health insurance. Her story proves that even in tough economic times, the kindness of a stranger can really add up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was nervous, scared, wondering, hey, I ain't even got a dollar to my name. What am I going to do?

LORNA STUART, DR.: Every single person knows somebody without health insurance. There are so very many people that fall through the cracks. Over the years of my private practice, I was getting more and more frustrated with insurance companies finding reasons not to pay for a procedure or a visit. And I said, we should start a clinic.

I'm Dr. Lorna Stuart and I provide quality health care to people without health insurance. OK, I'll need his chart. When I began it, there wasn't any spare money around to pay me. It didn't feel like a sacrifice because the difference in the reward is huge. Good morning.

The clinic provides something very special to uninsured people. Respectful, dignified health care. We're here to see people no matter what their ability to pay is. Since there's no need to spend a lot of time doing paperwork -- two more done -- we have time to talk to the patient and really hear what they're saying. So the patients go away feeling they've been heard, that they've been helped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clinic made me feel comfortable and AIDS. I want to say thank you. It's greatly appreciated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you care to make a contribution for your health care today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. I do. I only have $10. Is that all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be fine. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you.

STUART: I like to do it this way. Nobody restricting how the care is provided. But simply health care, one person at a time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now Dr. Stuart, keep up the great work. And you at home, don't go anywhere. Up next, man's best friend, not just a pet, but a life-saving partner for kids with special needs. Plus, the remarkable doctor who's lending a helping hand, providing mobility to those without limbs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Something that's hard to get around here otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will not be able to find this around here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And a place right here in the United States where fresh fruits and vegetables are often a rare commodity. We'll tell you what we mean. Stay tuned to HOUSE CALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: And we are back with HOUSE CALL. Today, we're bringing you stories that prove everyone can make a difference. Take Karen Shirk, for example. She experienced difficulty getting care when a rare disease struck in her own life. Determined to make the path easier for others, she founded a company that's helping to change lives in a very unusual way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREN SHIRK: Children with autism, they're often isolated. They just don't connect to people. I worked as a social worker in the field of mental retardation and autism. I knew that children with autism connected with animals. And I knew that service dogs would be able to help. I'm Karen Shirk, and I bring service dogs to children with disabilities like autism. One of the biggest problems children with autism have is they wander away. We train the dogs in tracking. So the parents basically have their own search and rescue dog. We also train the dogs to intervene when the child is frustrated. Their anxiety just diminishes. It's just the magical dogs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The changes in Sam have been really fantastic.

Now with the dog, his mood is better and his ability to tolerate is better. Karen, she really changed all of our lives.

SHIRK: What do you think, Justin?

JUSTIN: Good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he a good dog?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to Karen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

SHIRK: You're welcome.

The dogs go in and become the child's friend.

JUSTIN: He's my buddy.

SHIRK: He's your buddy already? Cool. I love to see their faces and just know that I was a part of that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And be sure to tune in next weekend as well for a special edition of HOUSE CALL, unraveling the mystery of autism. Our goal here at HOUSE CALL is to investigate, empower, and educate, giving real answers to the thousands of questions surrounding this medical mystery. I promise that we're going to stay on top of this. And we have been.

Patients can logon to nichy.org/states to learn how to apply for services in your community. And for more information on family services, treatments and resources for your child, logon to autismspeaks.org.

We'll have much more medical heroes after the break. Plus, an unusual site in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. And how one extraordinary doctor is recycling hope and making Mexican amputees his life's mission. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: You know, we can all do simple things to make the world a little bit of a better place, but sometimes figuring out exactly what to do can be a challenge. That was the case for Dr. David Puckett. Then he realized there was one unique product he could recycle to help others quite literally get back on their feet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID PUCKETT: We are in southeastern Mexico where medical care is poor. It's almost impossible to overcome an amputation. They don't have the opportunity to get out, much less get accepted.

The very first time I came to Mexico, it was stamped on my heart. Some day you're going to make a difference here. And when I finally got into the field of orthotics and prosthetics, I said aha, now I know what I can do.

I'm David Puckett and I bring artificial limbs and orthopedic braces for those in need to Mexico. There's always a plethora of donations of artificial limbs and orthopedic braces. We take casts in southeastern Mexico and make new limbs and braces from the components that we recycle.

Delivering a limb or brace is the beginning, because we have to come back to make sure they have what they need. When we help one person, it actually affects that entire community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My life was sad before because I had to crawl on the ground. He lifted me up to where I am today.

PUCKETT: I didn't really realize how much sacrifice it was going to be, but you know what? Where there's more sacrifice, there's more blessing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Dr. Puckett, you figured it out. You figured out what to do. Congratulations for that. Keep up the good work.

Up next, why this woman says it's easier to find a gun than an organic tomato in a Chicago neighborhood. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with HOUSE CALL. Why is it so hard to eat what's right? No access, not enough good food around? Well, that is the case in this tough Chicago neighborhood. And one woman is making a change, bringing in better health and literally planting hope for others. Here's her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LADONNA REDMOND, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: This was a vacant lot.

GUPTA (voice-over): In one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago, a garden of plenty. What are we growing in here?

REDMOND: You know, any number of things. There's -- those are collared greens.

GUPTA: Green, leafy vegetables.

REDMOND: Absolutely.

GUPTA: Something that's hard to get around here otherwise.

REDMOND: You will not be able find this around here.

GUPTA: But Donna Redmond planted the first seeds of what she calls urban farm sites when she couldn't find fresh produce nearby. See, there are no supermarkets here, only convenience stores. With no place to buy fresh food, Redmond says it's no wonder many in the neighborhood suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

REDMOND: I think it definitely is related to the access to healthy food issue. I mean, most of those diseases are diet-related.

GUPTA: Urban farm sites like this one in Chicago are part of a growing movement. Taja Sevelle started the non-profit Urban Farming two years ago in Detroit with the goal of eradicating hunger. The group has added gardens in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Newark. Sevelle says urban farming is about a lot more than growing healthy food, free for the taking.

TARA SEVELLE, FOUNDER, URBAN FARMING: There's a look in your eye when you don't have any hope. And I've seen that look of hopelessness. And I've seen that look come back to life, and not only come back to life, but come back to life in a big way.

GUPTA: A taste of the country in the city where the harvest is hope and better health.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And make sure to watch my special, "Fed Up: America's Killer Diet" on Thanksgiving weekend.

Well, unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today. Remember, this is place for the answers to all your medical questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. More news on CNN, which starts right now.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN HOST: Good morning and welcome to HOUSE CALL. Thanks so much for joining us.

Today, we're going to bring you some inspirational stories, extraordinary people showing you how to take charge of your own health and help in ways big and small.

First up, a medical breakthrough that has never before been done on a human. I found this fascinating. You're going to have to see this.

And generosity that touches your heart. A woman donates her kidney to a total stranger. Plus, a nanny brings hope and inspiration to orphans of AIDS, providing them a life that they have never had.

We start, though, with the medical headlines. First up, the FDA goes abroad. In light of all these concerns we've been talking about over the safety of imported products, the Food and Drug Administration has opened its first-ever offices overseas in China. There are a total of three bureaus there now in China. And the agency is awaiting approval to open offices in India and Latin America and Europe as well in the coming months.

And over the past year, we've talked about this a lot. The FDA has been criticized for failing to prevent a string of contaminated products from entering the United States. The agency hopes the oversea moves will help reassure consumers about the safety of the $2 trillion worth of goods imported in the United States every year.

Also making headlines, a medical breakthrough. Surgeons in Spain successfully transplanted a human trachea, engineered using the patient's own stem cells. It's an amazing story and one that experts hope will highlight how stem cells and tissue engineering could radically improve the ability to treat patients with all kinds of serious diseases.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Behind every medical breakthrough, there is a story. And you're looking at one. 30-year-old Claudia Castillo playing with her kids. She is proof that stem cells can make a difference. Just a few months ago, a scene like this would have been impossible. Her lungs and trachea were badly damaged by a terrible bout with tuberculosis. Look here, critical narrows, not enough air getting into her lungs.

So, her doctors decided to build her a new airway, using adult stem cells taken from her bone marrow, not from embryonic stem cells that cause so much controversy. It has never been done before in a human.

PAOLO MACCHIARINI, SURGEON: The jump between the animal investigation and the human investigation was a big sort of mystery to me as well, but we succeeded.

GUPTA: Pictures tell it best. Take a look at this. Doctors took a donor trachea from a 51-year old who died. For six weeks, they methodically stripped away all the cells, leaving just a matrix or scaffolding. Then slowly, they began to build up a new trachea, using Claudia's stem cells and cells from a healthy part of her trachea.

The transplant was next. Rare shots inside the operating room. Adult stem cell transplants are not new. A heart valve is regrown in April of 2007. In 2004, scientists rebuilt bladder muscles using injected stem cells. And bone marrow is commonly transplanted to treat leukemia and other types of cancer. Four days after her transplant, doctors say Claudia's wind pipe was almost indistinguishable from a healthy patient's. Today she has no complications and no signs of rejecting the transplanted tissue.

CLAUDIO CASTILLO, TRANSPLANT PATIENT (through translator): It's a long process, but four months after they operated on me, it's much better. I'm fine now.

GUPTA: Doctors say they hope their success will open doors for future transplants to be performed and to help even more patients like Claudia return to normal lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You know, every day all over the world, there are people working to make life a little bit better for those in need. We call them CNN Heroes. But for HOUSE CALL, they're called our medical marvels.

Now, imagine finding out you need a kidney transplant and no one in your family is a match. One grandmother in Tacoma, Washington, well, she needed a miracle. And she found it from a total stranger in the most unusual place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNAMARIE AUSNES: In 1990, I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. It's genetic. And there is no cure for this disease. You know, I have this lovely little granddaughter. And I want to be so involved in her life. I'm missing out. And I just started praying for God to please send me an angel.

SANDRA ANDERSEN: I can help you down here, sir. I work at Starbucks in Tacoma, Washington. I'm the morning person. I work from 5:00 in the morning until 1:00. Anna Marie is one of my customers. She comes in every day. And this particular morning, I could tell that she just wasn't feeling real well. And so, I asked her what was wrong.

AUSNES: I told her that I had been placed on the national kidney transplant list.

ANDERSEN: I just looked at her, and I said, you know, I want to test for you. My name is Sandra Andersen and I'm a barista for Starbucks and I'm donating a kidney to a customer.

I went and had my blood tested. I sat down with my family. And we got as much information as we possibly could. Then, the day came when I was able to tell her. Here's this long line to the door, and I just reached over and grabbed her hand, and I said, I'm a match. And we both just stood there and bawled.

AUSNES: It was a joyful moment for me. I've been praying for an angel. I never in a million years would have thought it would have been my barista. Never.

ANDERSEN: I knew in my heart this was a time for me to step up. And I found out that I could. So it's pretty awesome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: What an incredible story. Stories like that, many people who do receive kidney transplants live happy and healthy lives. But keep in mind, there are no guarantees when it comes to this. About 355,000 people in the United States are currently on dialysis. This year alone, about 11,000 kidney transplants have been performed in the United States. Nearly 4,000 of them from living donors. And almost 80,000 people are still on a waiting list.

For more information on organ donation or kidney transplants, log onto kidney.org. You can also go to the united network for organ sharing at unos.org. They can help facilitate organ sharing among transplant centers as well.

CNN Heroes are the focus today on HOUSE CALL. Coming up, meet a nanny helping some small victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. And after 23 years in general practice, a doctor finds fulfillment in the simplest of ways. Plus, 41 trips to Mexico. This man brings hope when he never thought it was possible. Making a difference with artificial limbs and braces, free of charge.

Stay with us on HOUSE CALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Well, happy holidays, everybody. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And the turkey, of course, is the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast. So, in today's food for life, Judy Fortin has some tips to make sure you have some fun and that you don't get sick with food poisoning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Raw turkey can be a breeding ground for bacteria. So, careful handling is essential, starting with thawing.

SAMANTHA ENZMANN, CHEF: The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator.

FORTIN: Chef Samantha Enzmann instructs all her students to begin by washing their hands before and after handling raw poultry and meat. She warns them not to cross contaminate their work surfaces.

ENZMANN: As long as you don't use the same knife and the same side of the cutting board that you used for preparing raw food, you should be A-OK.

FORTIN: Roasting a turkey at the right temperature ensures that it won't be undercooked.

ENZMANN: Proper turkey temperature is anywhere from 165 degrees to 180. 180 is on the well-done side. FORTIN: Don't forget to remove the plastic bags with giblets and the turkey neck. Samantha says for safety reasons, the only items she stuffs back into the cavity are vegetables, oranges and herbs for seasoning.

ENZMANN: No, you never cook stuffing in the bird. You run the risk of those raw poultry juices being absorbed into your stuffing.

FORTIN: Following simple safety tips will help make this a healthy holiday.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: So, you learn something new every day. You don't cook the stuffing inside the turkey. Good tips there, Judy. Thanks.

With the holiday season comes a spirit of giving. And here's a question for you. Just how much are you willing to give? Up next, from Malawi to Pennsylvania, you will be touched by the costly sacrifices two CNN Heroes are making to help those with nowhere else to turn. Stay with HOUSE CALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Well, welcome back. Our look at CNN Heroes continues with the heartening story of Marie Da Silva. As the nanny in Los Angeles, Marie looks after two kids. But miles away in her native Malawi, she is saving hundreds of others by pledging a considerable one-third of her monthly salary to educate and feed orphans of AIDS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIE DA SILVA: Children just bring joy to me. That's why I'm a nanny. They need to be surrounded by love. They need education. They need attention. If I can make that happen in Los Angeles, why can't I do it for children elsewhere?

I was born and bred in Malawi. We have hundreds and thousands of orphans, and most of them, of course, orphans by AIDS. They live in very bad conditions. It's literally poverty. I'm Marie Da Silva and my mission is to educate AIDS orphans in Malawi.

AIDS is like a plague in Malawi. I have 14 members of my family who have died of AIDS. When I visit Malawi, I visit my family at the graveyard. When I heard that the AIDS orphans would have no school, it touched me to say I need to help. The Jacaranda School is in the house that I grew up in. They study in my bedroom. They study in the pantry. They study in the garage. We have a lack of just about everything, but we give them courage. And they are doing amazingly well.

This is -- every month I sent in $1,000, about 30 percent of my monthly wages. I talk to my nanny friends. And today, there are nannies that give me $10 a month. I do this because I know that with children, they need it. When my father was dying, there was this huge Jacaranda tree outside that brought in light. For me, the Jacaranda tree symbolizes hope. And that's what I want to give the children at the Jacaranda school.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now, if helping someone else meant giving up your job, a chunk of your salary and your home, would you do it? That's exactly what Dr. Lawrence Stewart did in order to help provide care to some of the 45 million Americans struggling without health insurance. Her story proves that even in tough economic times, the kindness of a stranger can really add up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was nervous, scared, wondering, hey, I ain't even got a dollar to my name. What am I going to do?

LORNA STUART, DR.: Every single person knows somebody without health insurance. There are so very many people that fall through the cracks. Over the years of my private practice, I was getting more and more frustrated with insurance companies finding reasons not to pay for a procedure or a visit. And I said, we should start a clinic.

I'm Dr. Lorna Stuart and I provide quality health care to people without health insurance. OK, I'll need his chart. When I began it, there wasn't any spare money around to pay me. It didn't feel like a sacrifice because the difference in the reward is huge. Good morning.

The clinic provides something very special to uninsured people. Respectful, dignified health care. We're here to see people no matter what their ability to pay is. Since there's no need to spend a lot of time doing paperwork -- two more done -- we have time to talk to the patient and really hear what they're saying. So the patients go away feeling they've been heard, that they've been helped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clinic made me feel comfortable and AIDS. I want to say thank you. It's greatly appreciated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you care to make a contribution for yoyour health care today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. I do. I only have $10. Is that all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be fine. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you.

STUART: I like to do it this way. Nobody restricting how the care is provided. But simply health care, one person at a time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now Dr. Stuart, keep up the great work. And you at home, don't go anywhere. Up next, man's best friend, not just a pet, but a life-saving partner for kids with special needs. Plus, the remarkable doctor who's lending a helping hand, providing mobility to those without limbs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Something that's hard to get around here otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will not be able to find this around here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And a place right here in the United States where fresh fruits and vegetables are often a rare commodity. We'll tell you what we mean. Stay tuned to HOUSE CALL.

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GUPTA: And we are back with HOUSE CALL. Today, we're bringing you stories that prove everyone can make a difference. Take Karen Shirk, for example. She experienced difficulty getting care when a rare disease struck in her own life. Determined to make the path easier for others, she founded a company that's helping to change lives in a very unusual way.

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KAREN SHIRK: Children with autism, they're often isolated. They just don't connect to people. I worked as a social worker in the field of mental retardation and autism. I knew that children with autism connected with animals. And I knew that service dogs would be able to help.

I'm Karen Shirk, and I bring service dogs to children with disabilities like autism. One of the biggest problems children with autism have is they wander away. We train the dogs in tracking. So the parents basically have their own search and rescue dog. We also train the dogs to intervene when the child is frustrated. Their anxiety just diminishes. It's just the magical dogs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The changes in Sam have been really fantastic.

Now with the dog, his mood is better and his ability to tolerate is better. Karen, she really changed all of our lives.

SHIRK: What do you think, Justin?

JUSTIN: Good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he a good dog?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to Karen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

SHIRK: You're welcome.

The dogs go in and become the child's friend.

JUSTIN: He's my buddy.

SHIRK: He's your buddy already? Cool. I love to see their faces and just know that I was a part of that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And be sure to tune in next weekend as well for a special edition of HOUSE CALL, unraveling the mystery of autism. Our goal here at HOUSE CALL is to investigate, empower, and educate, giving real answers to the thousands of questions surrounding this medical mystery. I promise that we're going to stay on top of this. And we have been.

Patients can logon to nichy.org/states to learn how to apply for services in your community. And for more information on family services, treatments and resources for your child, logon to autismspeaks.org.

We'll have much more medical heroes after the break. Plus, an unusual site in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. And how one extraordinary doctor is recycling hope and making Mexican amputees his life's mission. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: You know, we can all do simple things to make the world a little bit of a better place, but sometimes figuring out exactly what to do can be a challenge. That was the case for Dr. David Puckett. Then he realized there was one unique product he could recycle to help others quite literally get back on their feet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID PUCKETT: We are in southeastern Mexico where medical care is poor. It's almost impossible to overcome an amputation. They don't have the opportunity to get out, much less get accepted.

The very first time I came to Mexico, it was stamped on my heart. Some day you're going to make a difference here. And when I finally got into the field of orthotics and prosthetics, I said aha, now I know what I can do.

I'm David Puckett and I bring artificial limbs and orthopedic braces for those in need to Mexico. There's always a plethora of donations of artificial limbs and orthopedic braces. We take casts in southeastern Mexico and make new limbs and braces from the components that we recycle.

Delivering a limb or brace is the beginning, because we have to come back to make sure they have what they need. When we help one person, it actually affects that entire community. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My life was sad before because I had to crawl on the ground. He lifted me up to where I am today.

PUCKETT: I didn't really realize how much sacrifice it was going to be, but you know what? Where there's more sacrifice, there's more blessing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Dr. Puckett, you figured it out. You figured out what to do. Congratulations for that. Keep up the good work.

Up next, why this woman says it's easier to find a gun than an organic tomato in a Chicago neighborhood. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with HOUSE CALL. Why is it so hard to eat what's right? No access, not enough good food around? Well, that is the case in this tough Chicago neighborhood. And one woman is making a change, bringing in better health and literally planting hope for others. Here's her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LADONNA REDMOND, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: This was a vacant lot.

GUPTA (voice-over): In one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago, a garden of plenty. What are we growing in here?

REDMOND: You know, any number of things. There's -- those are collared greens.

GUPTA: Green, leafy vegetables.

REDMOND: Absolutely.

GUPTA: Something that's hard to get around here otherwise.

REDMOND: You will not be able find this around here.

GUPTA: But Donna Redmond planted the first seeds of what she calls urban farm sites when she couldn't find fresh produce nearby. See, there are no supermarkets here, only convenience stores. With no place to buy fresh food, Redmond says it's no wonder many in the neighborhood suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

REDMOND: I think it definitely is related to the access to healthy food issue. I mean, most of those diseases are diet-related.

GUPTA: Urban farm sites like this one in Chicago are part of a growing movement. Tara Sevelle started the non-profit Urban Farming two years ago in Detroit with the goal of eradicating hunger. The group has added gardens in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Newark. Sevelle says urban farming is about a lot more than growing healthy food, free for the taking.

TARA SEVELLE, FOUNDER, URBAN FARMING: There's a look in your eye when you don't have any hope. And I've seen that look of hopelessness. And I've seen that look come back to life, and not only come back to life, but come back to life in a big way.

GUPTA: A taste of the country in the city where the harvest is hope and better health.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And make sure to watch my special, "Fed Up: America's Killer Diet" on Thanksgiving weekend.

Well, unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today. Remember, this is place for the answers to all your medical questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. More news on CNN, which starts right now.

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