Samantha Watkins died too young, but others may well live because of her.
Waktins died in December of 2016 while a student at Kilgore High School after suffering an epileptic seizure and slipping into a coma.
Her death brought to light the fact that Texas school personnel are generally not trained in seizure recognition or seizure first aid.
On Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed “Sam’s Law” unanimously and sent it to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature, bringing to a successful conclusion work done by State Rep. Travis Clardy and former teacher Shari Dudo with the hope of making certain that other students with epilepsy will be saved from Watkins’ fate.
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Dudo herself suffered a seizure at age 51 and grew concerned for students who who might also experience seizures with no one around them who knew what to do.
Dudo spoke with the TEA hoping they could train teachers in seizure first aid.That hope was briefly crushed when the TEA told Dudo that any training for public school employees had to be mandated by state law.
Dudo contacted Watkins’ mother and Clardy and began the work to get Sam’s Law, or HB 684, passed. The legislation would require Texas school employees to be trained in basic seizure first aid.
Along the way, they have been helped by the Purple Warriors of Texas, an epilepsy advocacy group founded by Dudo that has worked to advocate for Sam’s Law, and also advocates for training Texas high school students in seizure first aid.
After shepherding the bill through the legislative process, often by going office to office in Austin, the group announced on its Facebook page that the Senate had voted 31-0 to pass Sam’s Law.
The Texas Epilepsy Foundation celebrated the bill’s passage on Twitter.
Sam’s Law, which requires that all school personnel be trained in seizure recognition and first aid just passed the Texas Senate 31-0!!! Next stop…the Governor’s Desk! pic.twitter.com/fdSaRvIXqE — EpilepsyFoundationTX (@EFTX) May 14, 2019
The bill had previously passed the Texas House unanimously.
It now heads to Abbott’s desk for his signature.