Zoe Cardwell was born with five severe heart defects, but the 16-year-old Puyallup resident considers herself one of the lucky ones.
“Congenital heart defects are all around us. You hear it in the stories of student athletes who have died with an undiscovered heart problem,” the Puyallup High School junior said. “This is why pulse oximetry tests are critical. It has the ability to save lives, yet ‘pulse ox’ is not a required test for newborns in the state of Washington. This needs to change.”
Zoe and her family made a compelling case on Tuesday, Feb. 3, to the Pierce County Council, which then unanimously voted to approve Resolution 2015-13 declaring the week of Feb. 8 as Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.
The resolution notes that 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects (CHD) in the United States each year. Twice as many children die from CHD each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD research, according to the resolution.
“Zoe did a wonderful job in bringing this issue to us,” said Councilmember Joyce McDonald, whose District 2 includes the Puyallup area. “She cares so much about others and is making a difference by bringing attention to congenital heart defects and the simple test that can be done to prevent heartbreak for families.”
Zoe is involved in an organization called Mended Little Hearts, which provides support to families. More information is available at www.mendedlittlehearts.org and the Puget Sound chapter's Facebook page.
MEDIA CONTACT: Joyce McDonald, Pierce County Councilmember (253) 798-6694 Joyce.McDonald@co.pierce.wa.us