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A family's grief becomes legislation to save lives in Florida

Emily Adkins was only 23 years old when she died as a result of a blood clot. Her family made it their mission to make sure other people don't suffer a similar fate.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — A local family's grief has led to a new law in the state of Florida.

Blood clots are preventable and treatable, yet according to the CDC more people in the United States die from blood clots than AIDS, breast cancer and car crashes combined.

A family from Fernandina Beach want to make sure that other families don't lose a loved one the same way that they did.

"Emily had an infectious smile," said Doug Adkins as remembers his daughter, "she had a natural gift to be able to bring a ray of sunshine into any room."

In the Fall of 2022 Doug Adkins was on his way to visit his daughter Emily Adkins at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville while she was going to receive treatment for a broken ankle and a recent gall bladder surgery.

"You anticipate this was a normal thing, you don't anticipate something tragic or terrible could happen from either one of these types of things," said Adkins.

But the unthinkable happened. A blood clot formed in Emily's right leg, broke off and caused a massive pulmonary embolism, which killed the once-vibrant 23 year old.

"When you lose a child I think it's traumatic, it's a level of anguish and heartache that you live with everyday," said Adkins, "I'm still in shock and I'm waiting for her to call me."

That call will never come, but Emily's memory will live on. The Adkins family has been involved in Florida politics for 25 years. Emily's mother Janet Adkins is currently the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections and served 8 years in the Florida House. In Emily's honor the family pushed for new blood clot legislation in Florida.

"Our goal is to simply say, if we can protect one other family from having to live through the daily trauma and anguish and heartache that we live, it would be worth it," said Adkins.

Members of the Florida House thought it would be worth it too. The Emily Adkins Prevention Act calls for a policy workgroup to examine how blood clots affect Floridians. 

The text of the new law can be read here.

The Emily Adkins Prevention Act passed unanimously in the House and was signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

"This is an issue that unifies Floridians, this is an issue that touches all Floridians regardless of your politics," said Adkins, "it was surreal because for a minute we were all one, we were all unified."

The workgroup will deliver its first report on January 4th, 2025... a date that would have been Emily's 25th birthday.

Shortly after their daughter's death the Adkins family started a foundation called Emily's Promise, which is a non-for-profit foundation dedicated to the memory of Emily Adkins and raises awareness for blood clots, pulmonary embolisms and ankle fractures. More information about Emily's Promise can be found by clicking here.

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