School project on infant heart screenings has the attention of Tallahassee

It started as a school project for 11-year-old Savannah Marquez, who wanted to teach others about the importance of cardiac screening for infants - like the one that saved her baby brother's life.

But Savannah’s school project has grown into something much bigger that now has the attention of lawmakers.

"I would love your support in making this bill into law," she read. 

That demonstration for her 4-H club won a blue ribbon at a county competition and took first place at the district level. That was just the beginning. 

Four years ago, a cardiac screening at Sarasota Memorial Hospital saved her little brother, Nico. 

"If they hadn’t of conducted that test, they probably would have sent him home as a healthy baby, I don’t even want to think what would have happened," said Savannah's mom, Nicole. 

A test showed Nico's oxygen levels were low. Instead of being discharged at six days old, he had open-heart surgery. Today, he's a healthy toddler. 

"My little brother, he’s really important to me and without the test he might have passed away. Everything would be so bland and dark without him," said Savannah. 

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She wants the heart screening required for all newborns and sent letters to lawmakers, saying so. State Senator Joe Gruters read her letter and last month, he filed a bill on her behalf. U.S Representatives Margaret Good and Will Robinson are also watching closely. 

"I would really like to raise awareness to the test and try to get everybody to write letters to their representatives to raise more awareness," she said.

Savannah's parents are overjoyed. 

"To see somebody so young using their voice to do what they feel is right and to really reach out and try to communicate the need for such an important test is just really remarkable," said Nicole. 

Her dad Mark agrees. 

"I'm just so extremely proud of her just because she is a very outgoing and very outspoken," he said. 

Now she's holding out hope, her bill will become law. 

"I feel confident and I know I can do something as big as this now," said Savannah.