Today, Newborn Health Initiative Director Andy Rosenberg delivered a presentation at the National Coalition for Infant Health's 2017 Infant Health Policy Summit. His powerful story in his opening remarks underscored the urgent need to promote innovation in drug therapies for our healthcare system's most vulnerable constituency - our newborn babies. "When I first became involved with the Initiative, I fully expected to learn a lot, and was prepared to be moved by the experience of working on such an emotional issue," said Rosenberg. "What I didn’t really expect, however, and what I somehow failed to see, was that I would find myself becoming personally invested because I myself was, a neonate patient."
Thank you very much for inviting me here this morning to kick off this amazing summit by discussing the Newborn Health Initiative, a stakeholder campaign involving parents, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical makers who have joined forces to push for federal legislation to create new, better incentives for the development of medications for neonate babies.
This is a group I’ve had the honor of working with for the better part of the last two years, and I’ve gotten to meet some truly incredible parents, doctors, nurses, and others who have an amazing passion for finding treatments for our most vulnerable patients.
And when I first became involved with the Initiative, I fully expected to learn a lot, and was prepared to be moved by the experience of working on such an emotional issue.
What I didn’t really expect, however, and what I somehow failed to see, was that I would find myself becoming personally invested because I myself was, a neonate patient.
When I was born, fully to term, in January of 1968, it took my care team - at a since-closed hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania – 2 or 3 days to figure out that my esophagus was connected to my lungs, rather than my stomach. For three days, everything I swallowed went into my lungs. And back up again.
I lost weight. I got pneumonia. And fortunately, I was eventually rushed to CHOP where an incredible surgical team, led at the time by C. Everett Coop, performed emergency surgery on me.
Every day since I can remember, when I dress every morning, I am reminded of my surgery by a thin scar that wraps around my chest.
But truthfully, not until I was given the opportunity to work on this Initiative, and to meet the courageous parents, nurses and doctors of infant patients, did I fully appreciate what my parents went through, and how much I owe my own incredible life to a community of people in 1968 who worked together, with the best technologies of that day, to save my life.
And so now, I get to contribute to a community that helps treat, and care for, and love the next generation of newborn patients. And I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this.
So, thank you for inviting me here today.