A local lawmaker wants to put an end to childhood diseases and he is calling on the government to help. On Friday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown visited ProMedica Toledo Children's Hospital to unveil new legislation aimed at designating more funding for pediatric medical research.
Brown was joined by 15-year-old Rachel Burns, who lives with cystic fibrosis, and had to be admitted to the hospital last week due to complications with her condition. Despite having CF, Rachel still manages to balance her daily 4 a.m. medical regimen with softball and volleyball practice, plus remains an honor student at Springfield High School.
When Rachel was younger, doctors told her she was not going to live past 12. Thanks to the work of doctors and researchers, that number has been raised.
"Now they're saying 38, but I'm kinda determined to kick 38 in the butt and go to 80," said Rachel.
Dr. Pierre Vauthy with Toledo Children's Hospital is passionate about the issue.
"We should be able to control all the cancers, all the chronic diseases in kids," said Vauthy. "We have the manpower, now we just need the money to do it," said Vauthy.
Doctors and lawmakers across the country, including Brown, want to change the amount of funding that goes to pediatric research.
"Though children make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, less than 10 percent of federal research dollars go toward research on pediatric conditions. Ohio is fortunate to have top-tier hospitals, like Toledo Children's, especially for families like the Burns, who have the support and resources they need when a child has a serious disease," said Brown. "But pediatric research institutions and pediatric researchers face real financial challenges that threaten their important work. That's why I will re-introduce the National Pediatric Research Network Act, to improve investments into pediatric research."
Brown and another lawmaker from Mississippi announced plans to introduce a bipartisan legislation to ensure a better-coordinated National Institutes of Health pediatric research investment that will produce a greater return on the investment, as well as help children overcome numerous devastating diseases and conditions. The bill seeks a reasonable proportion of pediatric research grants for rare diseases and conditions.
Brown says researchers have already made a lot of progress, but he wants to make sure they have all the resources needed to keep moving forward.
"Because of pediatric research, cystic fibrosis patients have improved their survival by 30 years, and we are now close to finding medications that may totally control their disease," said Dr. Pierre Vauthy, director of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at ProMedica Toledo Children's Hospital. "By increasing funding support through Sen. Brown's legislation, we should be able to control many of these diseases."
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