The Greater Southeast Affiliate is extremely thankful for their rock star Alabama advocate, Mark Miller. After being inspired by his daughter Mary Beth, who has congenital heart defect, Mark is a tireless advocate for Pulse Oximetry screening in newborns, which can detect these heart defects early in life. Right now, the AHA is working with the Alabama State Health Department to require hospitals to screen for heart defects in all newborns before they are discharged, and it’s because of advocates like Mark that the AHA is confident that this soon might become a reality.
His advocacy efforts began by contacting various local legislators in order to educate them on the importance of this simple test in detecting heart defects in newborns. His initial outreach caused a ground swell and sparked a call to action from state leaders. Mark later served as a parent advocate representing the AHA on a stakeholder group formed by the Alabama Newborn Screening Advisory Committee. This group was brought together to create a plan on ensuring all Alabama newborns received this critical screening and drafted protocol around performing the test. The growing movement allowed Mark to become the event Chair of the Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day at the state Capitol, where 20 volunteers urged their lawmakers to support preventative screenings.
“Mark has been an unrelenting force in our state’s pulse ox efforts. His love for his wife and daughter, sweet little Mary Beth Miller, drives his commitment and passion to fight heart disease in our youngest. Mark is an inspiration and a constant reminder of what one person can accomplish- he truly is a part of the cure,” said Melanie Bridgeforth, Alabama Government Relations Director.
As this movement to screen all newborns for congenital heart defects continues in Alabama, Mark Miller will be on the front lines.