Pulse Oximetry Screening for Newborns a Reality in North Carolina

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Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Vice President and Daughter Work Together to Make a Difference

Pictured (L to R) Rep. Fulghum, Grace Sanchez, Governor McCrory, and Rep. Hollo

"I have no doubt that the General Assembly with their votes, and the Governor with his pen, saved lives," said Eric Sanchez, Vice President of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.

On May 8, 2013, Governor McCrory signed Senate Bill 98 into law which expands the newborn screening program to include screening for congenital heart disease utilizing pulse oximetry.

Pulse oximetry is a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive test that monitors the amount of oxygen in blood. It’s so simple and effective many institutions refer to it as “the 5th vital sign.”

For a newborn, low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a sign of a congenital heart defect (CHD). Without screening, many newborns are discharged from the hospital without diagnosis because the signs might not yet be evident. CHDs account for nearly 30% of infant deaths due to birth defects, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In New Jersey, the day after similar pulse oximetry legislation was signed, a baby’s life was saved; in Tennessee, it was within a few days, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Eric Sanchez, Vice President of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, and his eight-year-old daughter, Grace, know firsthand about pulse oximetry. Grace was discharged from the hospital without being diagnosed with a CHD, only to be diagnosed six weeks later which ultimately resulted in open-heart surgery at eighteen weeks.

“When Grace was diagnosed, after the initial shock, I vowed that something good would come of this,” Sanchez said. “When I saw all of the recommendations from the federal and state health departments, as well as nearly every professional organization, I knew our legislators needed to act.”

As a result of Grace, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has been a longtime supporter of many Duke Children’s Hospital fundraisers, as well as Triangle Mended Little Hearts, and other causes. The firm allowed Eric whatever time he needed to advocate for pulse oximetry.

“These groups, and this work, are near and dear to almost everyone in the firm,” said James S. Farrin, founder and president. “We are especially proud of Grace and her advocacy of pulse oximetry; many lives will be saved as a result of this legislation.”

Eric and Grace resolved to make sure that they did everything they could to change this in North Carolina.

Earlier this year, Eric and Grace worked with other advocates, young and old, who survived heart disease and strokes, as well as other volunteers, for the 2013 NC AHA’s “You’re the Cure” at the Capitol State Lobby Day in February.

NC Director of Government Relations for the AHA/American Stroke Association, Betsy Vetter said, “I am honored to have been able to advance the pulse oximetry issue in North Carolina. It has been a genuine pleasure to work with passionate advocates, like Eric and Grace, to see SB 98 through the legislative process and signed into law. Together with our bill champions, we have ensured that we will save lives for generations to come.”

Eric also authored an opinion editorial which was published in the News and Observer, as well as countless emails to legislators. He and Grace met with many legislators individually, and in groups, attended several committee meetings both in the House and Senate, and Grace was a prominently mentioned on the Senate floor when Senate Bill 98 was passed.

“[Her] beautiful smile won over the committee for a unanimous vote,” Senator Brock said about Grace.

Eric had this to say:

This law would not have happened without the dedication and leadership of Senator Brock or other bill champions like Senators Pate, Stein, Representatives Hollo and Fulghum. All were critical in keeping the bill clear of special interests. Betsy Vetter and the entire ‘You’re the Cure’ team worked relentlessly on this issue; they were not only ‘the cure,’ they were ‘the difference.’ Billy Warden and Greg Behr of GWB strategies also donated their time to assist with getting the word out about the importance of pulse oximetry.

When all is said and done, North Carolina legislators came together in a bipartisan way, with 100% of the General Assembly speaking in one voice. At the bill signing, Governor McCrory was especially gracious, embracing Grace before happily signing Senate Bill 98 into law. I have no doubt that the General Assembly with their votes, and the Governor with his pen, saved lives. This is truly all that is right with North Carolina Politics.

North Carolina is one of only twelve states to enact pulse oximetry bills to ensure babies born with heart defects are screened and receive appropriate care.

For more information on the American Heart Association’s “You’re the Cure” network, visit http://www.heart.org/yourethecure or contact Betsy Vetter at 919-463-8328.

About the American Heart Association
Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. These diseases, America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular diseases claim nearly 870,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2006-07 the association invested more than $554 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is headquartered in the American Tobacco Historic District, adjacent to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, in Durham, North Carolina, with 12 additional offices statewide in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Goldsboro, Henderson, New Bern, Raleigh, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Sanford and Wilson. The firm’s 30 attorneys focus on the following practice areas: Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, Eminent Domain, Intellectual Property, Civil Rights, Mass Torts and Products Liability. Three of the attorneys are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law and one is a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law. The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is involved in the community, including sponsorship of local philanthropic organizations and an active employee matching donation program.

Contact Information:
David Chamberlin
280 S. Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701

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