First - Thank you all for contacting your state senator about SB 819 (aka The Jamie Schanbaum Act). As you've probably read on this blog, SB 819 made it through the Senate, but now it needs to be voted upon by the house. But before a vote takes place, we need it to be scheduled for a hearing in front of the Higher Education Committee in the House. Therefore, we're going to need your help once again, and, like before, we'll be needing this assistance today (Thursday) if possible - apparently, the calendar is set on Friday and it doesn't look like there will be another chance for us to get this heard by a committee during this legislative session.
So that's the goal: Get a hearing scheduled with House Higher Education Committee before session ends... so... ASAP.
[Click the link above or go to http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/list81/290.htm to see the members of this committee, then, click their picture to go to their web page and then look for the "Send Email" link on the right side of the page... click that link and send a short email or call... calling is easier, I think, but how ever you contact these reps is great with us!]
So, we'll need to contact the Representatives on the Committee and the Representative who is sponsoring the bill in the House (Garnet Coleman). So, in order, it appears that the people who can make this happen are (1) Rep. Dan Branch, from Highland Park, (2) Rep. Garnet Coleman, from Houston, (3) the other members of the Higher Education Committee and (4) any other Representative that you can contact about this.
Rep. Dan Branch - Highland Park/Uptown Area Dallas (this is most of my friends...)
Rep. Jaoquin Castro - San Antonio
Rep. Roberto Alonzo - Dallas
Rep. Leo Berman - Tyler
Rep. Ellen Cohen - Houston
Rep. Donna Howard - Austin
Rep. Brian McCall - Plano
Rep. Diane Patrick - Arlington
Rep. Patrick Rose - San Marcos/South Austin
I know that some of you reading this do indeed live in these areas, so PLEASE contact these individuals. You all know how important this is to us, and, on behalf of all of the family, thank you for taking a few minutes of your day to contact. Thank you so much for your efforts on Jamie's behalf. Please try to contact one or more of the above-listed folks in order to encourage them to schedule SB 819 for a hearing. Thank you very much for your time and support.
(At the bottom of the post is the letter I submitted along with SB 819, when it was being heard in the Senate Committee, that provides some information about Jamie, the bill and the disease)
About the Bill, Briefly - This bill will require incoming college freshmen (who live in on-campus dorms) to prove that they have been immunized against bacterial meningitis. If this legislation was in place two years ago, Jamie would not be wrapping up her 6th month in the hospital. Of course, this bill also has Opt Out language so that those families who are opposed to these types of vaccines are not forced to immunize their children against their wishes.
What you can do! - Please, please email or call one or more of the Representatives listed above to tell them (nicely) that you want to prevent this terrible disease from harming anyone else and that they should do whatever they can to ensure that SB 819 is scheduled for a hearing before the House committee ASAP. We need all the support we can get, and your voices are the only way to make sure that our state representatives know how important this bill is.
If you need to read some information on Jamie or the bill before sending, please use, edit or paraphrase the letter (below) if you need to. We really appreciate your help here, so thank you so very much. Need any other help with contacting these Representatives or with anything, you know how to get ahold of me. Thanks so much!
All our best,
Jamie, Patsy, Nick, KC, Roni and the rest of Jamie's dedicated family and friends.
Jamie Ann Schanbaum is a lifelong Texan. She was born in Dallas on October 4, 1988 and recently began studying at The University of Texas at Austin to be a pharmacist. She is a charming, bright and funny young woman. Jamie loves to laugh, dance and play with her animals. If it weren’t for her extraordinary character and charitable personality, Jamie would have been just another college student in Austin. However, Jamie is not an ordinary young woman. As a high school student, she woke up at 5 am many times to help serve breakfast at one of Austin’s soup kitchens. She taught campers how to SCUBA dive at Camp Longhorn. She truly radiates compassion and love. Jamie makes her friends’ lives better and their burdens lighter. She is one of those individuals that you meet once and remember for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, on November 13, 2008, that life was very nearly cut short when she contracted a bacterial infection, specifically, the meningococcus bacteria. Even though she survived, the life that she enjoyed ended on that day due to an easily preventable infection.
Typically, the meningococcus bacteria manifest itself in one of two ways. The more common type of infection is called meningococcal meningitis (commonly referred to as simply “Meningitis”); this is the more typical manifestation of the disease. Jamie contracted the less common and more violent version of the bacteria, Meningococcemia. Instead of attacking Jamie’s nervous system, as happens in most meningococcus cases, the meningococcus bacteria infected Jamie’s blood, which typically leads to death or, for the luckiest individuals who contract this disease, only amputations. Despite quick actions and attentive care provided by her doctors at Seton Medical Center, the infection took hold almost immediately. There was little that her doctors could do once the infection had set in. On February 6, 2009, doctors at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston amputated both of Jamie’s legs below her knees and removed the most of her digits on her hands (luckily, parts of both of her thumbs and two of her fingers remain). Jamie’s courage throughout this fight cannot be understated. She gritted her teeth and faced this challenge head-on, but there is a huge difference between Jamie recovering from this devastating illness and not having to have faced it at all. If Jaime had been immunized from the meningococcus bacteria with a readily available vaccine, this heartbreaking situation could have been avoided. Our efforts on Jamie’s behalf are intended to help others avoid the pain and trauma that Jamie has had to experience. Jamie will battle the effects of this disease for the rest of her life and it is important to her that she is able to show her friends, family and those around her that this dreadful situation could have been avoided.
Jamie carries on with the support of her mother, Patsy, and her siblings, Nicholas, KC and Roni. Jamie is constantly talking about being back at school, and, finally, after being in the hospital for almost six months, she sees that her goal is almost realized. She still has several months of painstaking rehabilitation ahead of her, but with the help of her family and friends, she will endure her trials and surpass all expectations as she’s done in the past. As was noted earlier, this young woman’s spirit is bright and pure. Jaime’s family has tracked her amazing progress on a blog so that her supporters can follow along. They welcome everyone to follow Jamie’s story at the URL at the bottom of this page. Jamie’s is a story of perseverance and character; its lessons are universally applicable. We simply wish that Jamie did not have to endure this pain so that others can avoid it.