Sen. William Purcell of Laurinburg has restored our family’s faith and confidence in state government. We contacted him earlier this year to urge him to submit a bill this legislative session that would help protect the health of the thousands of children who attend petting zoos at fairs in our state each year (July 26 article "As girl copes, legacy may protect others").
Our 2-year-old daughter, Aedin, was one of the many children who contracted E. coli at the State Fair petting zoo this past October. Unfortunately, she was also one of the roughly 8 percent of children with E. coli who develop potentially lethal hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Her kidneys shut down; her platelet count dropped to dangerous levels: her pancreas was attacked and she developed diabetes. After 36 days in the hospital (including two weeks in Pediatric Intensive Care), weeks of dialysis, four surgeries, and numerous transfusions of blood, platelets and plasma, Aedin came home just in time for Christmas.
Purcell responded to our inquiry within hours, and he welcomed the opportunity to meet with our family. As a pediatrician, he knew first-hand the devastating effects of HUS and the serious public health risks that are associated with the transmission of E. coli from petting zoo animals to young children.
We asked Dr. Purcell to see that the measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of E. coli from petting zoos were adopted into the N.C. General Statutes. He listened to our ideas and then took action by drafting the necessary legislation. He spent countless hours working with representatives from the state Agriculture and Public Health departments to draft the bill. He sponsored and presented SB 268. We were thrilled to learn that Gov. Mike Easley signed the bill into law on July 15.
We will be forever grateful to Purcell for his commitment to protecting the health of all of North Carolina’s children.
Kyle and Liz Gray
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