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Renee Montagne

Samantha Blackwell was working her way through a master's degree at Cleveland State University when she found out she was pregnant.

"I was 25, in really good health. I had been an athlete all my life. I threw shot put for my college, so I was in my prime," she says with a laugh.

Journalist Rania Abouzeid has had a front-row view of the conflict in Syria from the very beginning.

"I witnessed what was one of the first demonstrations in Damascus in late February 2011, and I was trying to figure out what it all meant and what was happening," she says.

Abouzeid's new book No Turning Back: Life, Loss, And Hope In Wartime Syria traces the stories of four Syrians from those small protests through a bloody war that still has no end in sight.

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It seems every mother has a tale of discovering she was pregnant. Samantha Blackwell was working her way through a master's degree at Cleveland State, and she'd be the first to say her reaction may not be what you'd expect.

The opioid epidemic has hit Huntington, W.Va., very hard, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

Documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon chose Huntington as the setting for her short doc about America's opioid crisis, Heroin(e). It's now nominated for an Oscar.

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On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving's "village" — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye.

When Sandra Daugherty's father died unexpectedly at 73, there was no plan. The only thing the family knew was what Grady Ross Daugherty didn't want.

"He was really freaked out about cement liners," said Sandra. "Like this Tupperware container that you get placed in, in the ground. He hated the idea of that. But other than that no wishes. He would say just surprise me. With a twinkle in his eye."

She decided not to choose a standard funeral.

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This is The Call-In.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORDUROI'S "MY DEAR")

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The Pakistani army rescued a Canadian-American family last week who had been held by a Taliban-affiliated group in Afghanistan for five years.

Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife Caitlan Coleman had been held captive by the Haqqani network since 2012. The couple's three children were all born in captivity. The family is now recovering in Ontario.

In a brief statement during a press conference in Toronto, Boyle said his wife had been raped and their infant daughter killed while they were in captivity.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in late September, and nearly all the island is still without power. In remote parts of the island, some communities are just now digging out from the storm's destruction.

In recent months, mothers who nearly died in the hours and days after giving birth have repeatedly told ProPublica and NPR that their doctors and nurses were often slow to recognize the warning signs that their bodies weren't healing properly.

This story was co-published by NPR and ProPublica.

Four days after Marie McCausland delivered her first child in May, she knew something was very wrong. She had intense pain in her upper chest, her blood pressure was rising, and she was so swollen that she barely recognized herself in the mirror. As she curled up in bed that evening, a scary thought flickered through her exhausted brain: "If I go to sleep right now, I don't know if I'm gonna be waking up."

A joint NPR and ProPublica investigation finds the U.S. medical system can be unprepared when the complications of childbirth turn deadly. NPR reports on healthy mothers who developed one highly treatable complication — preeclampsia — and how it killed them.

As a neonatal intensive care nurse, Lauren Bloomstein had been taking care of other people's babies for years. Finally, at 33, she was expecting one of her own. The prospect of becoming a mother made her giddy, her husband, Larry, recalled recently— "the happiest and most alive I'd ever seen her."

Abdulkhalek Dabaa, one of fewer than 30 doctors left in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, is the only remaining ophthalmologist in the eastern part of the city. Medical supplies are scarce, so he has resorted to making his own eyedrops. His wife, an obstetrician, relies on folk remedies for her patients.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general, gestures as he speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 8, 2013.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

One of the most contentious issues facing this new school year is which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students will be allowed to use.

The Obama administration has issued what it calls guidance that students be allowed to use facilities consistent with their gender identity. The administration warned that schools refusing to do that could risk their federal school funding.

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