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Bill offers lifesaving help for those with rare disease

Alexis Lhotka, a 14-year-old resident of Morris, Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, and Darlene Shelton of Danny’s Dose Alliance advocate on behalf of the bill in committee. (Contributed)

State Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, wants to expand the guidelines authorizing EMTs, AEMTs, and paramedics in Minnesota to administer prescription medications to patients in lifesaving situations.

His bill passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in a unanimous, bipartisan voice vote this week and was sent to the Minnesota State Senate floor for further consideration.

Westrom authored the legislation after talking with Alexis Lhotka, a 14-year-old resident of Morris, who needs lifesaving medication during emergency situations due to a rare disease, adrenal insufficiency, commonly referred to as Addison's Disease.

Current state law does not allow for EMTs and other emergency services personnel to administer the prescription medication.

"Alexis and her mother, Meredith, came to me with their concerns for commonsense legislation that could potentially save lives," said Westrom in a news release. "With Alexis stepping up, testifying in committee, and telling her story, I am confident Minnesotans statewide will benefit from these reforms. Alexis is a real hero in my book."

One of the popular medications used for adrenal insufficiency emergencies is similarly administered like an EpiPen. When an individual with adrenal insufficiency is experiencing a medical emergency, it is not always possible to self-administer the medication. This change in law would remove that barrier.

Similar legislation passed the Minnesota Senate last year. Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, is the chief-author of the companion bill in the Minnesota State House.

Rare diseases have received new attention at the legislature this year and Alexis and her mother have been tirelessly advocating for passage of this bill over the last two legislative sessions, according to Westrom.

"Alexis and her mom are a shining example of what grassroots lobbying looks like," said Westrom. "When they discovered a problem in state law, they refused to stay silent. Instead, they engaged with legislators and championed commonsense changes. Due to their efforts, I am confident lives will be saved across Minnesota."

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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