The article has been updated with McEwen’s diagnosis.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Improving the quality of life for Oklahomans from the start – that’s the goal of a bill currently making its way through the state capitol.
As of now, Oklahoma only screens for 57 of 61 federally recommended medical conditions.
This bill would change that.
It’s inspired by a local man and his health struggles.
In 2008, Colin McEwen’s life as he knew it began to change.
“Nausea, vomiting and a lot of pain – I was really just sick a lot about once a month until 2013,” McEwen said.
McEwen’s symptoms were a mystery to doctors and only got worse as he began to experience bouts of psychosis.
“I was taken to a mental health facility in Henryetta,” he recalled. “I was told it was all in my head and I was coming up with reasons to use pain medicine. At that point, I thought I was just out of my mind, crazy.”
But it was a mental and physical attack.
Eventually, he lost control of his hands and arms.
“Until finally I was absolutely quadriplegic in a hospital bed,” he said.
Finally, in 2015, he got some answers from a doctor at the Mayo clinic.
He was diagnosed with Acute Hepatic Porhyria.
McEwen says it’s hard to identify as an adult, but if he had a full screening as a newborn, it would have been easily diagnosed and treated.
Those screenings are the focus of Senate Bill 1464, authored by Senator Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, ensuring Oklahoma babies will be screened for all 61 federally recommended conditions.
“This, in my opinion, is a pretty common-sense measure,” Hicks said.
On the Senate floor, it received bipartisan support, passing by a vote of 43 to 3, after some concessions.
“Obviously, if we hit lean budget years, we want to make sure that we maintain the integrity of our programming across all agencies,” Hicks said.
Next, Hicks and McEwen hope to see it pass the house, and eventually, be made a hard and fast rule regardless of funding.
“I kind of feel this is how government is supposed to work,” said McEwen.
“If you’re experiencing a challenge or hardship, it’s really important that you reach out to your lawmakers and share your story,” Hicks said.
While the state’s public health lab was moved to Stillwater – some newborn screenings were outsourced to a vendor that uses the full panel.
So, if you had a child born during the pandemic, it’s likely they had the full screening.