All across America, You're the Cure advocates and American Heart Association staff are working to ensure newborn babies are screened for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. A quick, painless screening using pulse oximetry- really just like a Band Aid placed on the toe or finger- can help alert doctors of a heart defect and ensure babies receive timely care. Congenital heart defects are the #1 birth defect, affecting 1 in 100 babies. Here's a look at just some of the incredible work happening around the country:
Minnesota: American Heart Association volunteer and Minnesota Representative Nick Zerwas shared his personal story of living with a congenital heart defect (CHD) during an American Heart Association Lobby Day. Rep. Zerwas is a co-sponsor and champion of Minnesota's Pulse Oximetry bill. Lawmakers, volunteers and the public saw firsthand how easy (and painless) the pulse oximetry test is when the test was given to baby Oliver during the Pulse Ox Demo and Press Event. The demo and pulse ox bill received some great media coverage highlighting Representative Zerwas and his personal story of survival. Check out the clip from KARE 11 here: http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=1010784
North Carolina: Greg Olsen, tight end for the Carolina Panthers, joined more than 60 You’re the Cure advocates gathered for North Carolina’s state lobby day to talk about the importance of pulse oximetry newborn screening and other important AHA issues. Many of the advocates were families with children with congenital heart defects, including Mr. Olsen. He testified that day in front of the House Health and Human Services Committee and the bill requiring pulse oximetry screening for newborns was passed unanimously. Following the hearing, lawmakers joined Mr. Olsen and advocates at a news conference to discuss pulse oximetry screening.
Oklahoma: On February 12, an amazing group of advocates attended a “Pulse-Ox” Lobby day at the Oklahoma Capitol, including mothers that had lost children due to undetected heart defects, kids and families currently living with congenital heart defects, and medical professionals that specialize in pediatric care. Thanks to their efforts, the pulse-ox bill was passed by the House Public Health committee that day! A similar bill has also been approved by a Senate committee, and both bills await a floor vote.
Pennsylvania: Tara and Wyatt Shaffer from State College, PA, joined 70 American Heart Association advocates at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers and participate in a press conference on the importance of pulse oximetry screening for newborns. Nine-year-old Wyatt was born with a congenital heart defect. His mother Tara told the moving story of how her son’s doctor luckily identified the defect before they left the hospital. Had pulse oximetry screening been performed, that would have alerted doctors that there was a problem. While Wyatt’s story ended happily and he’s now an active fourth grader and avid Heart Walk fundraiser, other families have not been so lucky. Volunteers came back from their meetings with elected officials energized and committed to making a difference by sharing their personal stories
South Dakota: A bill to ensure all newborns are screened for critical congenital heart defects is on the governor’s desk awaiting signature! Advocate and bill sponsor testimony was impactful in moving this bill seamlessly through both chambers of the South Dakota legislature. We look forward to the governor's support of this life-saving measure.