An open letter to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann

  • Article by: MELISSA CASTINO REID
  • Updated: September 30, 2011 - 8:19 AM
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Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., gets a lesson in meat cutting from owner Kent Wiese during a plant tour at Amend Packing Co., on Sept. 20, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Photo: Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press

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I caught it on the news that you visited a meatpacking plant in Iowa last week and promised to reduce restrictions that ensure food safety, so that small businesses could create more jobs.

I am adamantly opposed to this idea.

According to CNN, the European outbreak of E. coli has killed 16 people; the New York Times reports an even higher number. To loosen rules for the meatpacking industry invites danger to innocent victims -- like my 4-year-old daughter, Rachel.

Thanks to E. coli, my daughter has lived in a hospital since June 11. Thanks to E. coli, she experienced acute kidney failure.

Thanks to E. coli, she has also suffered a stroke, resulting in a brain injury on both hemispheres. She has lost her ability to walk, talk and move in a normal way.

Before E. coli, she was a perfectly healthy, active little girl.

Thanks to E. coli, my husband and I have lived in the hospital, only leaving her side to work or to renovate our home for her return. (Thanks to E. coli, she's in a wheelchair.)

Our journey began at Children's Hospital in St. Paul early this summer. Because her kidneys failed, she endured 24/7 dialysis in her stomach for three full weeks. At that point, she could still speak.

One night, I noticed her tummy was so distended from dialysis, it pushed up into her lung cavity. She turned to me and said, "Mommy, I can't breathe."

No parent should hear such chilling words from their child.

Shortly after the dialysis ended, the nephrologists happily proclaimed that her kidneys had healed. Within days, both her brain injuries hit. Her EEG revealed lines as flat as notebook paper.

Thoughts of heading home to resume any normal summer activity vanished. By July 21, Rachel entered Gillette Hospital to undergo full rehabilitation.

Thanks to E. coli, Rachel has to relearn how to walk, talk, move her body, eat food and suck from a straw.

Rep. Bachmann: We must do the right thing. We have to hold companies accountable for the foods they produce.

From one mother to another, I'm asking you to reverse your campaign promise and err on the side of safety. For my child. For your children. For everyone's children. It's just that simple.

* * *

The writer lives in Mound, Minn.

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