Local Families Close to Law Screening Newborns' Hearts

By: Clare Kaley Email
By: Clare Kaley Email
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Starting Thursday, July 3, all newborns in Wisconsin will be screened for critical congenital heart defects before sent home from the hospital. Local families played a part in the bill being signed into law, and feel the impact of the legislation.

"You always want to be there to provide everything you possibly want to do, and it was that moment where you knew you couldn't. You just had to rely on faith."

Faith and Determination.

Two things that helped Brad and Beth Gast through a situation parents never want to experience.

"We had a son that was born in 2001 premature," Brad said, "had some heart issues, and he passed away with only 3 days of life."

Their son, Lucas, had a heart defect that was not screened for, and by the time the doctor's caught it, it was too late.

"To us that was a very tragic moment, a moment that really changed the course of our lives," Brad said.

So Brad and Beth decided to try and change the way newborns are screened, so other families could avoid the same heartbreak. They worked with the local American Heart Association to raise awareness for the issue, and to get the screenings mandatory.

"They're testing the heart to make sure that the young boy or girl has a healthy heart," Brad said, "and if not, gets that immediate treatment so they can have a long and healthy life."

Brad teamed up with Senator Jerry Petrowski and Governor Scott Walker to get to where we are now. Effective Thursday (7/3), all newborns must be screened for critical congenital heart defects, before heading home from the hospital.

"This bill took 3 and a half year from the start to today. And its beena long journey but he stood by us and really continued to battle those battles in Madison when, at times, this looked like it was never going to happen."

They say what helped keep them going through countless road blocks these past few years, were their three healthy kids, and the memory of one child, taken too soon.

"I think its that memory," Brad said, "one thing that I promised my son Lucas was his life was short, but his impact was going to be big in this world."

"Hopefully no other baby will have to go through what we had to go through," Beth said, "because the sooner they're screened, the better."

The Quevillon family knows about heart defects all too well. Karson, their 9-year-old son, has a heart defect that screening would not have helped. But they say this new law will help save lives.

"With every baby being screened I think its going to improve the outcome for kids that have heart defects, even if its minor," April Quevillon said, "because they're going to detect problems right away. and parents will know before they are discharged with their baby that there's something that needs to be addressed."

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