My name is Doug Chew and I'm a survivor and an advocate for the American Heart Association's "You're the Cure" community. I'm writing a blog about myself and my work as an advocate with the hope that something I say or do will save a life. I'm also hoping that you'll reach out to me about how you can help further our mission to build healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke. There's no better feeling than working with others to make a difference in people's lives. I will share a story about a life that was saved through advocacy, but first let me tell you a little more about myself.
On Christmas Day of 2007, I was walking around Gray's Lake in Des Moines, ignoring an odd ticking sensation I had felt, when suddenly I grabbed my chest, unable to breathe, and my body went into a fetal position. For the longest minute of my life, I thought this is what it feels like to die. No more hopes or dreams, just this vise-like pressure on my chest. Luckily, after that minute, shallow breaths returned and my hopes and dreams once again had substance. My road to recovery included open heart surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation. One of my nurses was named Ann: she is part of the story.
For the past two years, I have worked with others to pass legislation to require the testing of all newborns for critical congenital heart disease. I have heard mothers speak of heart wrenching battles to save their child's life. I heard pediatric cardiologists speak to the efficacy of a simple, inexpensive test with a pulse oximeter that could detect a defective heart in newborns and allow for immediate, life-saving treatment. I added my presence and my voice whenever asked to urge the quick passage and implementation of this life-saving legislation. We were successful. Lives will be saved.
And now the rest of my story. A few weeks ago I was working out at my local YMCA which is affiliated with Mercy Health (where I had my open heart surgery and cardiac rehab). For the first time in almost 8 years I saw Ann, who was still working with heart patients, and reintroduced myself. I told her of my work with "You're the Cure" and our success with legislation to test for newborn heart defects. She then told me her niece had recently given birth and the newborn was given the pulse ox test. A heart defect was found and the child was able to receive immediate treatment. That is one life that now will have hopes and dreams. I know there will be others.
Well, that's my story! As the Advocacy Team Leader for congressional district 3, I want to know more about each of you. Do you have a personal story that you want to share? Do you want to get more involved with our efforts to create a more heart-healthy Iowa? We welcome people who share our passion to make a difference. Let me know. I'd love to chat with you about ways you can get involved. You can reach me at [email protected].
I look forward to working with you in the upcoming legislative session and beyond. Together we make a difference!
Thank you for your time,