Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) volunteer Jennifer Garcia of College Station, TX received the March of Dimes Outstanding Volunteer Advocate for Texas – 2012 award. Jennifer received the honor for her tireless work to add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) to the list of conditions that all newborns in the state are screened for at birth.
“I feel truly honored to receive the award,” said Jennifer, whose son Cameron died of SCID in March 2011 at 9 months old. “I was so proud the March of Dimes considered me an outstanding advocate this year out of many others who do so much. I have truly tried my best, gave my fullest, and worked my hardest in the 18 months since Cameron passed, and it was a great feeling to know that they were proud of that work too. Every advocacy group has been very supportive and proud of me, and I cherish all the people I have met along the way, especially IDF!”
Thanks to Jennifer’s efforts and those of many dedicated volunteers who advocated for the cause, the Texas Department of State Health Services added SCID to its newborn screen panel December 1, 2012.
Texas operates the largest newborn screening program in the nation, testing about 800,000 specimens per year. The blood to be tested is drawn by a simple heel stick within 48 hours of birth and again at one to two weeks of age. The screening provides an opportunity to detect medical conditions that, if not addressed early, would cause serious problems like developmental delays, major illness or death.
“The addition of the SCID screening means that – literally – a dream has come true for me and for so many SCID moms and babies across the state,” Jennifer explained. “Individuals and groups CAN shape public policy through education, advocacy, and mobilization of interest groups. It personally helps me feel some much needed peace in my heart, and that there was a purpose to Cameron’s little life as well as the lives of all the other SCID angels.”
Congratulations to Jennifer and to all the volunteers who advocate for universal SCID newborn screening! Let’s keep the momentum and work towards screening in all 50 states!