Newborn Screening Family Stories: Andrea's Story - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Newborn Screening Family Stories:
Andrea's Story

Andrea and her sister Andrea and Commissioner Ehlinger

My name is Andrea Diane Bastian, and I believe that every child deserves a chance. Without newborn screening that chance would be taken away from many babies, and I would not be standing here today. I have a genetic disease called PKU. If my disease was not caught after the first few days of life, the damage would have been un-repairable; I would not be able to talk, barely walk, or do simple daily tasks such as getting myself dressed.

Thankfully, I was given a chance. I am now 19 years old and in college. I'm going to school to make a difference in people's lives, to become an Orthotic Practitioner. I will one day help those who need braces to walk, braces to protect their heads and backs for scoliosis like I also have.

Without newborn screening, I would not be given the chance to go to college to learn how to help others. I personally know people whose PKU was not caught in time; it is sad to know that their lives and the lives of the people around them could be so much different. They will never be able to live on their own or do anything without help.

It is cruel to think that some people want to take away newborn screening all together or make it optional just because they are afraid that the government may keep the blood spots used to test their babies. It is crazy that anybody would take away a baby's chances and rights out of fear of a heel prick. The babies would not even be given the chance to live a full, happy and independent life. Think about your sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren and how your life would change if this happened to them.

I believe that I was born with PKU to help make a difference. I feel that I need to help and look out for the children who are our future because many people don't fully understand how important newborn screening is; it can save the lives of many children across America. Newborn screening tests for many genetic diseases that could impair a child's life. With a simple heel poke, that child's life could be saved. So please help spread the word that newborn screening is a good thing and get your babies tested.

Thank you for reading my story and please think twice before you opt-out of newborn screening. Help make it easier for the Minnesota Department of Health, Public Health Lab, to do their job in keeping newborn babies safe from a lifetime of permanent damage.

Thank you,
Andrea Bastian