A recent legislative victory in West Virginia showed once again that passionate, dedicated advocates can make a difference. On April 5th, 2012, advocate Ruth Caruthers and her fellow “Heart Moms” stood with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in the State Capitol, as he signed “Corbin’s Law” into effect. This life-saving legislation, named after Ruth’s son who passed away from a heart defect shortly after birth, makes pulse oximetry (pulse ox) testing a mandatory requirement for all babies born in West Virginia. Pulse ox is a simple, inexpensive, painless bedside test which can help detect a critical congenital heart defect before a baby is released from the hospital.
“My son inspired me to become an advocate,” said Ruth. “After fighting against heart defects his whole life and showing how incredibly strong and brave he could be, I knew I had to continue his legacy after his death. I had to make a difference in his name to help other mothers and babies.”
Ruth was joined in her mission by fellow parents of children born with congenital heart defects. These “Heart Moms” and dads began networking in any way they could to build support for the bill. Whether it was sharing information and connecting on social media, recruiting new advocates to You’re the Cure, educating expecting parents about pulse ox, doing media interviews, or calling local hospitals, Ruth and the other “Heart Moms” worked tirelessly to get the word out. And it paid off in March when the state legislature passed the bill, followed by the Governor’s signature.
“Being able to watch the Governor sign Corbin’s Bill just made it so real to me. Corbin was in that room that day, shining down and smiling over all of us. It was a day full of happiness and hope. I could not have been happier or more proud of Corbin then at that moment,” Ruth shared.
Her advice to other advocates? “Use social media to your advantage! You must be able to reach people and that is the best way to do it. You need to network, network, network.”
Congratulations to all of the West Virginia advocates who worked so hard to pass this life-saving bill!