The physicians said during my first of five brain surgeries that it was unlikely that I would survive, and if I did, I likely would not be able to speak, move, read, or write ever again.
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But here I am now, urging Ohio's lawmakers to consider passing legislation that helps to keep people like myself alive every day; and House Bill 431 does just that.
At the age of 30, I suffered a massive ischemic stroke. I was trapped inside of my own body, and although cognizant, only able to move my eyes. As a social worker, I previously was the voice for so many who could not speak for themselves, but I soon became a person whose life was completely dependent upon others speaking and advocating for me. While living in the ICU, I decided that once I was able to communicate again, I would continue being an advocate of a different kind. And although my voice would sound different, I would dedicate my life to stroke prevention, education, and legislation to save the lives of over 18,000 stroke patients a year in Ohio, where over 6,000 will die.
It is known that someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, resulting in one death every four minutes. And currently, in the state of Ohio, we do not have specific legislation to support the life-saving stroke data collection that is much needed. House Bill 431’s stroke registry will allow for this lifesaving data to be kept, ensuring that stroke patients like myself have a true fighting chance against stroke. Requiring the Department of Health and designated hospitals through House Bill 431 to collect, compile, and oversee data related to stroke care and, as part of that process, to establish or utilize a stroke registry database will change the face of stroke in Ohio, and provide vital data to those physicians and practitioners who need it the most.
It was my honor to testify before the Ohio House Health Committee on March 8, 2022, speaking for stroke patients who cannot speak for themselves, urging lawmakers to vote in favor of this lifesaving legislation that means the world to me, and thousands of others, who have been impacted deeply by stroke.
Jeri Ward, Stroke Survivor