Members of Congress introduce resolutions all the time expressing support for one cause or another that get little or no attention, but the truth is that they all have back stories.
Last week, lawmakers introduced what's become an annual resolution supporting the designation of May as Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. Last year's version moved through the Senate by unanimous consent just before the chamber took the Memorial Day recess. It's a resolution inspired by a young man from Connecticut who was afflicted with a pediatric stroke.
The parents of Patch Angerame reached out to Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal's office back in 2011, facing the prospects of choosing between exorbitant medical bills or not providing their son with proper care because of insurance issues.
When I first heard Patch's story a year ago, it was uniquely personal for me. It has parallels to my own; also hailing from Connecticut, I suffered a stroke at birth, and went through years of treatment, and both physical and occupational therapy.
In my own case, the condition was diagnosed almost immediately after delivery, and I quickly began treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital. In Patch's case, the diagnosis did not come until several months later.
"Increased awareness for pediatric strokes will enable more to be done to recognize, diagnose, and treat this horrible condition that affects children across the country," Blumenthal said in a statement announcing the introduction of the 2015 version, which has been referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"This resolution helps accomplish our goal to raise awareness that a pediatric stroke can cause permanent neurologic damage or death if not promptly diagnosed and treated. I am proud and honored to have gotten to know Patch and work with him on this vitally important issue," Blumenthal said. "Patch's story, and the stories of other children like him, are an inspiration to me and I am committed to continue working hard for the community."
Patch's stroke took place while he was still in his mother's womb, and it was not diagnosed for months thereafter, though as a local publication, the Ridgefield HamletHub, highlighted in a report posted Wednesday , starting therapy at nine months old proved helpful in Patch's development and recovery. He is now seven years old.
The senator's office produced a video in 2012 highlighting Patch's story, and Blumenthal has begun to mount an educational campaign, highlighting statistics showing there's a stroke in one of roughly every 4,000 live births, meaning they are far more common than some might think.
"It happens more than you would know, and that's what everybody says, 'What's wrong with him?'" his mother Jennifer Angerame said in the video, saying people have often been surprised to discover that kids do, in fact, have strokes.
"After learning of Patch's story and speaking with his family, I have advocated for increased awareness, research and treatment efforts for pediatric strokes. I am pleased to introduce this resolution so that children at risk of or suffering from strokes may be able to live full, healthy lives," said Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who has spearheaded the companion resolution in the House.
Connecticut's other Democratic senator, Christopher S. Murphy, joined on the resolution as did Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
"This bipartisan resolution will increase awareness of pediatric stroke, a relatively rare condition that can lead to serious neurological damage, learning or developmental disabilities and even death if not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner," Ayotte said.
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