Sabadosa: Area mayors issue joint proclamation for Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month
By Regina Sabadosa Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org November 29, 2012 1:58PM
Palos Heights Mayor Robert Straz (from left), Vicky Ranftl, of Alsip; and Alsip Mayor Patrick Kitching issue a joint proclamation declaring November Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. | Supplied Photo
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:08AM
Alsip resident Vicky Ranftl recently coordinated a service learning project in conjunction with the Leo Club at Shepard High School. The club is a service organization open to all students and meets every Wednesday after school.
Along with Shepard teachers Jason Nisavic, Jenny Klein and Erin Quinn, about 20 Leo Club members took on a special project during the annual Moonlight Harvest Senior Citizen Dance on Nov. 17.
As part of the project, Alsip Mayor Patrick Kitching and Palos Heights Mayor Robert Straz introduced a joint proclamation declaring November as Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month.
Ranftl is the grandmother of 6-year-old Tatiana Ranftl, who recently was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the lungs and has no known cure. Only the blood vessels in the lungs and the right side of the heart are affected. If left untreated, PH may lead to right heart failure.
You may recall I wrote an article about Tatiana back in July. Since then, there already have been two fundraisers for Tati, and she was the recipient of a five-day Disney cruise courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
A staggering statistic is that the cost of treatment for PH averages $100,000 per year.
PH often is difficult to diagnose because, in many cases, no cause can be identified. It affects all age groups and often is fatal.
Sometimes PH can develop due to other medical conditions. Without treatment, PH patients live an average of 2.8 years past diagnosis. With early diagnosis and treatment, it can be managed for 20 or more years.
The mayors’ proclamation was intended to “provide hope for the PH community through support, education, advocacy and awareness,” officials said.
Ranftl is hoping that the PH Association will use this local effort as a pilot program with other schools next year. It is apparent that more information about PH needs to get out to the public as soon as possible.
At Shepard, students walked their guests through an exhibit about PH. Student Kimberly Leeper said she was “surprised that I learned so much about PH.” She worked on some of the exhibit’s posters and concentrated on showing how PH can be misdiagnosed and how each PH patient needs to be their own advocate.
Students also collected signatures during the event to send letters to our state representatives in Congress, asking them to co-sponsor the Tom Lantos Bill when it again comes to the floor.
The Tom Lantos Bill (PH Research and Education Act of 2011 — H.R. 1810, S. 775) has failed three previous times and is being reintroduced.
“What we must do, when so many thousands of lives are at stake, is to put public pressure on our representatives to move this bill through,” Ranftl said.
The mayoral proclamation mentioned that in 2001, there were 3,000 PH patients receiving treatment from 100 PH-treating physicians. In just five years, those numbers had grown to an estimated 30,000 patients and 3,000 PH-treating physicians. The reality is that there are at least as many undiagnosed as diagnosed patients.
We applaud the students and their teachers for responding to this critical and worthwhile cause and for getting involved in their community to promote awareness for PH research. Kudos to Mayor Kitching and Mayor Straz for officiating at this event.
At the end of the gathering, a split-the-pot raffle was held, with proceeds going to the Robyn Barst Pediatric Research Center for Pulmonary Hypertension.
For more information about Pulmonary Hypertension and how research funds are being used, visit www.phassociation.org/barstfund.
Also, please join me on my new blog.
Recently, I launched a blog, which is a personal online site intended for dialog about various community or neighborhood topics. My blog can be found at www.rsabadosa.wordpress.com and goes by the title “Reggie’s Room with Friends.”
I would like to invite my readers to check it out and, if so inclined, to leave comments on what is posted or suggestions for future Neighborhood articles.
For more information, contact me at email@example.com.