Two-year-old Kai from Washington D.C., has received surgeries to repair a heart defect and his trachea, and the National Institutes of Health helped pay part of the costs.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said Friday that Kai has a chance to life because of NIH’s support, but many federal health programs have put their research on hold because of the government shutdown.
At a press conference Friday with Senate colleagues to decry the shutdown’s impact on public health, Mikulski said that NIH has been forced to furlough 71 percent of its staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal programs that affect health and safety have had to send employees home, as well.
“We can’t function like this,” Mikulski said.
Accompanied by Kai’s mother and medical officials, the group urged House Republicans to agree to fund the government without strings attached.
The other senators were Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
To underscore the importance of the work federal health agencies do, Harkin said that the CDC and epidemiologists recently discovered the cause of 162 cases of Hepatitis A from frozen berries, linking them to the pomegranate seeds in the mix.