A routine surgery to remove tubes and tonsils in her four-year-old changed Celeste Goodwin’s life forever. After discharge, her son Matthew became very sick. A trip to the emergency room confirmed that his blood pressure was dangerously high, and several days of testing in the pediatric intensive care unit determined that he had a kidney condition. Matthew was diagnosed with renal artery stenosis and had his first angiogram that year, which was a temporary fix until he had a kidney autotransplant in 2008. Goodwin realized she had almost lost her son.
“After doing some research, I learned that there are an estimated 2 million children in the United States with undiagnosed hypertension each year,” says Goodwin. “This is due in large part to the lack of baseline blood pressure screenings which should begin at age three.”
Goodwin got to work.
She founded the National Pediatric Blood Pressure Awareness Foundation in 2010 with an eager group of volunteers. Their first goal: encourage healthcare facilities that did not include blood pressure measurements in standard evaluations to start including them. NPBPAF partnered with Cabela’s in Gonzales and hosted a large community event to get families involved. Now in its sixth year, Cabela’s Blood Pressure 4 Kids Fishing Derby offers free blood pressure screenings each spring.
And it is making a difference.
After the first fishing derby, the parents of an 11-year-old girl who had never before had a blood pressure screening contacted Goodwin. Her numbers were elevated and, after a follow-up consultation with a physician, it was determined that she had an undiagnosed kidney condition.
“Knowing we helped this family made all of the hard work by everyone to plan and to prepare for the derby worth it,” says Goodwin. “Hypertension is called the silent killer for a reason. Signs that you have hypertension often don’t come until it is at a dangerous level.”
Goodwin serves on a subcommittee with the American Academy of Pediatrics to review recommendations on screening and management guidelines for pediatric hypertension. She also reaches out to schools to let administrators know about the group’s BP4KIDS school screening initiative and the healthy lifestyle presentation they offer to elementary students in Louisiana. She has retuned to school to get a degree in pediatric health studies, with the goal to one day work in pediatric hospice. And Goodwin also makes herself available to any parent who emails or calls seeking support.
“The foundation is a total family commitment,” says Goodwin. “My youngest son, Conner, is probably our biggest cheerleader. My husband keeps a bag of awareness bracelets in his truck and takes every opportunity to distribute them while encouraging parents to make sure they know their kids’ numbers. And Mathew volunteers to help when I share his story at medical workshops.”
Matthew’s health struggles continue, and kidney disease will forever be part of his life. But Goodwin credits his great faith with his positive outlook. This Parkview Baptist student hopes to one day become a pediatric nephrologist.
“Each time I sit down and reflect on our achievements in helping so many children across the United States, I am humbled to know that we have made an impact,” says Goodwin. “The most rewarding aspect is knowing that Matthew’s illness has not been in vain.”
To learn more about this organization, visit bloodpressure4kids.org.
How is the National Pediatric Blood Pressure Awareness Foundation making a difference?
Pediatric healthcare facilities that didn’t previously include blood pressure measurements during well child visits are now beginning to add this important vital. Parents in our community are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of knowing their kids’ numbers.
What do you hope to achieve?
Our ultimate goal is for every child to have his or her blood pressure taken each time they visit any health care facility.
What is something we don’t know about your group?
We are an all-volunteer organization. We provide—free of charge— home blood pressure monitors for children who need to keep track of their blood pressure frequently due to a diagnosed condition. These machines are often not covered by insurance.
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