Things That Matter

From a Pig Heart Transplant to an 88-Year-Old Grad, These 9 News Stories Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity

It’s no secret that lately, life can feel tougher than usual. And as we’re constantly exposed to a negative news cycle, it’s easy to get lost in a feeling of anxiety or sadness about the state of the world. And there’s still a lot we hope will change: for one, the much-desired end of the pandemic, an increase in attention to the environmental crisis, not to mention racial, gender, and economic equality.

But good news is important to be informed about, too, restoring our faith in humanity through jaw-dropping stories of good deeds, and people coming together to make amazing changes. We’re mind-blown by the sheer amount of recent positive news stories, and let’s just say some of them had us crying like a telenovela star. Ahead, find the top 9 good news stories on our radar, and be prepared to grab some Kleenex — and forward some of them to your abuelita on Facebook chat.

1. Uber driver stuck on I-95 with teenage passenger got her a hotel room — and received a job offer.

The epitome of a good samaritan: Uber driver DaVante Williams picked up a teenage passenger at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station in order to take her to Williamsburg, Virginia. However, as reported by CNN, the two were confronted with 50-mile traffic down I-95 from a snowstorm, and were at a standstill for several hours. Once Williams was able to diverge and head back to D.C., he paid for the passenger’s hotel room with his own money. As the driver explains it, he could tell she was “exhausted, emotional, and just tired,” and wanted to help. While Uber posted about the story on Twitter and refunded Williams the hotel charge, rideshare company Alto promptly offered him a job training drivers about exceptional customer service.

2. Police officers help pilot from fallen plane seconds before a train crashes into it.

Fox News shared a terrifying video on Instagram that shows a group of police officers joining together to save an injured man from a plane crash in the middle of the road. While that situation alone is already stressful enough, there’s another hitch: a train making its way to hit the fallen plane head-on. The officers are able to rescue the man at lightning speed, removing him from the plane seconds before the train hits it.

3. 88-year-old and his 23-year-old granddaughter graduate college together. 

In one of the most heartwarming stories we’ve read, 23-year-old Melanie Salazar graduated from college alongside her 88-year-old grandfather Rene Neira last month and we’re tearing up all over again. Salazar told TODAY that her grandpa “did a lot of advocacy through civic engagement” in San Antonio, Texas and always dreamed of holding an economics degree. Once Neira’s wife passed away in 2009, he decided to pursue that goal. Both Neira and granddaughter Salazar started college in 2016, even eating together in the cafeteria sometimes or studying together, all the way to being handed their diplomas side by side at their University of Texas graduation. Neira is now terminally ill, but making it to graduation “felt like a miracle,” especially with hearing loss, and sometimes not having a car and taking the bus to his classes.

4. Man with terminal heart disease survives a game-changing pig heart transplant.

A man with a terminal heart condition successfully underwent a pig heart transplant at the University of Maryland — changing the world of transplants as we know it. CNN reported that 57-year-old David Bennett was “deemed ineligible” for a traditional transplant, so a pig heart was his only option. As he explained before surgery, “it was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.” Four genes were removed and six human genes were inserted into the pig in question, and the surgery miraculously went well. While the upcoming months will show the true success of the operation, surgeon Dr. Bartley P. Griffith said they’re optimistic that “it will provide an important new option for patients in the future,” hopefully making viable organs far more available to those in need.

5. DoorDash driver rescued a toddler walking alone in the freezing cold. 

Another heroic act proving the goodness of humankind, DoorDash driver Robert Jackson III was confronted with a scary situation but responded swiftly and kindly. As Jackson made his way through Detroit’s 8 Mile Road to deliver an order one morning, he suddenly noticed a toddler wearing only a diaper and socks walking along the extremely chilly, 38 degree streets. According to Newsweek, the driver picked up the 2-year-old and immediately called 911, holding the freezing child to try to bring him back to a normal temperature. As Jackson explains it, the child’s “lips were purple and his fingertips were purple,” but he is now “doing OK.” So what happened? The toddler’s 16-year-old sibling was babysitting him and didn’t notice he had run out of the house. While it doesn’t seem the situation was intentionally harmful, Jackson explains that he is “grateful” he was able to help,” clutching his heart and saying, “it’s got me right here.”

6. A baking company truck passed out loaves of bread to more than 50 cars stuck in the snow.

A story that’s the perfect mix between simply positive and downright delicious, this one involves yet another traffic hold-up due to this winter’s snowy weather conditions. As Casey Holihan Noe explained on her Facebook page, she and her husband John had been stuck on the snowed-in I-95 in Virginia for a whopping 21 hours. She explained they slept in their car overnight since the nearby towns were “out of power,” and they didn’t even have access to food or water during that time. As explained to the Washington Post, the couple had not eaten for 37 hours when they suddenly noticed a Schmidt Baking Company truck up ahead. Going out on a limb, they called the company to ask if they wanted to help the stuck passengers out — they immediately agreed, offering around 300 loaves of bread and rolls to more than 50 cars.

7. Route 94 drivers jump out of their cars to help a sea lion safely cross the road.

A dose of good news you might not be expecting whatsoever, but that is really adorable and heartwarming all at once? A group of San Diego drivers getting out of their cars on Route 94 to help a lost sea lion. Yes, you read that right: as this Instagram video by Good News Movement shows, the drivers parked their cars on the side of the road and directed incoming traffic to keep the sea lion out of harm’s way. As one of the drivers Leslie Fernandes told FOX5 San Diego, “we were just trying to keep it from going from one side of the freeway to the other,” helping it get to safety. By the end, the sea lion was rescued — but it’s not their first rodeo. The friendly giant has ended up on boardwalks and around nearby delis in the past.

8. Officers rescue two babies from horrific destruction after a Kentucky tornado.

We are absolutely mind-blown by this incredible video that shows two babies being rescued by police officers after a tragic, disastrous tornado in Hopkins County, Kentucky. Local 12 reports that Clara Lutz found herself with her 15-month-old and 3-month-old grandchildren right before the tornado hit. The two babies were still in the bathtub when she “felt the shaking of the house,” and “the tub had lifted” out of her hands. The tub detached from the floor and flew off, while the rest of Lutz’s house was destroyed. The video footage shows officers looking everywhere for the children before they hear a tell-tale cry: miraculously enough, the babies were found alive in the upside-down tub. As per the Evening Standard, the three-month-old sustained a minor brain bleed, but the bleeding stopped before arriving at the hospital. 

9. Truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence was reduced from 110 years to 10.

We couldn’t talk about recent positive news stories without discussing truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos’ reduction in sentencing. The 26-year-old Cuban man made headlines all over the world recently when he was sentenced to 110 years for his involvement in a fatal crash outside Denver, Colorado that killed four people. Public outcry deemed the sentence as deeply unjust — and 4.5 million people signed a petition to reduce it. In an act of clemency, Governor Jared Polis granted commutation of the sentence, bringing it down to 10 years instead. Mederos’ lawyer James Colgan told ABC News, “Mr. Mederos will be forever grateful for the millions of people that supported him.”

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