NEED YOUR HELP - Re: SB 819 - Please contact your Texas Senator to ask for their support!

[This is a message I've sent to our friends and family, asking everyone to contact their Texas State Senator and asking for their support of SB 819]

As you may know, we've become very concerned with getting the state of Texas to require meningitis vaccines for college students. To that end, we testified in front of the Higher Education Committee in support of SB 819 last week. This bill concerns a VERY important health issue for the citizens of Texas and a personal issue for our family. TOMORROW (or Friday) the bill is being argued on the senate floor and we need your help getting senator support.

(At the bottom of the post is the letter I submitted along with SB 819 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 your state senator ASAP [click to see which Senator represents you] to tell them (nicely) that you want to prevent this terrible disease from harming anyone else and that they should support SB 819. We need all the support we can get, and your voices are the only way to reach these Senators.

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.

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.