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WASHINGTON, DC (WWAY) — Senator Kay Hagan (D), a mother of three, says a new bipartisan bill holds a special place in her heart.

Hagan helped introduce it at a hearing in Washington, DC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of newborn screenings.

A mother, originally from Brunswick County knows firsthand just how important the celebration is.

“The nurse discovered shortly after his birth that there were just some things about his coloring, his behavior that was abnormal,” Joye Mullis, a newborn screening advocate, and mother said.

Abnormalities Joye Mullis might not have known about if not for that nurse, and newborn screenings.

Those tests discovered that Ethan, who was born in March 2009, had a critical congenital heart defect, and saved his life.

“He was rushed to Duke University Medical Center where he underwent open heart surgery at just three days old,” Mullis said.

And Ethan isn’t the only baby saved by newborn screenings.

According to the March of Dimes about 1 in every 300 infants has a condition that screenings can find.

That’s why Mullis spoke at the hearing in Washington, DC today about her son’s disease.

“It was detected purely from that screening at the hospital,” Mullis said.

Sen. Hagan says stories like Mullis’s inspired her and Senator Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah to introduce the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act.

“I can personally remember when my children were born, and when this test was done, and just I think every parent prays for their child to be healthy,” Hagan said.

Hagan says the bill improves programs designed to identify, diagnose, and treat medical conditions in newborns.

An effort Mullis is grateful for as she raises a now healthy son.

“He is a happy, healthy four-year-old little boy. And I just feel that every baby in this country deserves that same opportunity,” Mullis added.

Hagan says this bill will not only save lives but also money. She says early detection and treatment of newborn illnesses saves millions of dollars.

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