Although congenital heart defects are the number one birth defect, typically newborns have not been screened for heart defects before leaving the hospital. This has tragically led to some newborns passing away from undiagnosed congenital heart defects, sometimes in their mother’s arms. This was the case for Kristine McCormick when her seemingly healthy daughter Cora passed away in her arms. It wasn’t until Kristine received the autopsy report that she realized Cora was born with a severe, congenital heart defect. Vowing to do all in her power to prevent another mother from experiencing her pain, Kristine joined forces with Annamarie Saarinen and others to petition her state to conduct a simple, non-invasive test to detect some of the deadliest heart defects in newborns. Tune in to this episode of Heart to Heart with Anna to find out how these moms on a mission have been able to convince lawmakers to pass legislation requiring pulse oximetry for newborns and what the results have been.

Guest Bios:

Kristine McCormick

Kristine McCormick states that within weeks of her daughter’s death, her role became clear. She would speak for babies without a voice. She would help their mamas.  Kristine has been a proud advocate of newborn health since 2009. Her focus has largely been on newborn heart screening or pulse oximetry. She successfully advocated for legislation in her home state of Indiana, which made pulse oximetry law in April 2011. She has helped other parents in other states work to make pulse oximetry the standard of care practice in their states as well as through her grassroots organization Pulse Ox Advocacy.  Kristine’s current interests are screening for congenital heart defects before and shortly after birth, newborn screening and any issue that affects the health of infants from conception through the first year of life.


Kim Willis is a 32-year-old mother of 3 little ones. She currently works full time as a sales assistant to a financial advisor. Her children are her life: Brooklyn (9), Ethan (7), and Kaden (17 months with HLHS). They live in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Kim had no idea of what congenital heart defects were or that they even existed until June 15, 2012. Kaden was born June 14, 2012. He seemed very healthy and the first 24 hours were normal. Kim inquired a few times about his cold, blue feet but was assured that that was normal for newborns. It had been 5 years since she had had a newborn so she accepted that answer. They were set to go home about noon but then it was required for pulse oximetry screening to occur and their plans changed. Because of the results of that test, the doctors realized something was wrong.  That one test changed everyone’s lives in Kim’s family!


Annamarie Saarinen is a Humphrey Policy Fellow and the co-founder of the Newborn Coalition, focused on leveraging health information technology (IT), med-tech and biotech to improve outcomes and reduce disparities for infants. She serves in an advisory capacity for multiple states in health IT policy and standards and is recognized for spearheading the federal effort to add congenital heart defects to the universal newborn screening panel in the United States. She also serves on the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, the Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium, and the March of Dimes Public Affairs Committee. The recipient of the renowned Betty Hubbard Maternal and Child Health Leadership Award, she has co-authored several manuscripts on the importance of technology in advancing early detection and treatment of pediatric illnesses, diseases and disorders. Annamarie has three children, including a daughter diagnosed at 48 hours of age with Critical Congenital Heart Disease.

Brent Waltz_2012

Brent Waltz is an Indiana State Senator and Indianapolis businessman. He represents southern Marion County and northern Johnson County, which comprise the 36th Senate District of Indiana following his defeat of Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in the May 2004 Republican primary election. His investment banking company, The Baron Group, Inc. specializes in mergers, acquisitions and capitalization of small-to-mid-size private companies in the transportation and manufacturing industries.  Senator Waltz achieved one of the greatest upsets in Indiana political history when he defeated 36-year incumbent and Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst. Borst was one of the most powerful Indiana politicians of the 21st century. Senator Waltz defeated Borst by 38 votes in the 2004 Republican primary and then easily defeated his Democratic opponent in the November 2004 election and was reelected to a second term in 2008. Subsequently, in 2012 he won reelection for a third term.

Make sure to Tune in to a Heart to Heart with Anna Jaworski on the Voiceamerica Health and Wellness Channel when she interviews her guests Live! For her upcoming Show “Cora’s Law and Why It’s Important with Anna Jaworski” on Dec. 17th Tuesday at 12 Noon Pacific Time.  Don’t miss it!

Heart to Heart with Anna is a program specifically for the congenital heart defect or CHD community. Our show will address issues of concern to the CHD community. Topics revolve around some of the special needs of the child born with a CHD, how to become an advocate for the CHD child, parent and CHD survivor and what it means to be part of the CHD community. The show addresses issues of concern to the CHD community. Members of the CHD community will serve as Guests to share stories to encourage others. While the topics will be especially pertinent to the CHD community, they also have a broader appeal to any community dealing with chronic illness since many of our topics are faced by other communities dealing with chronic illnesses. Heart to Heart with Anna will be broadcast live every Tuesday at 12 Noon Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel.