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Dennis Quaid, Health Activist

Actor Dennis Quaid takes on medical errors – and life with twins.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dennis Quaid’s baby boy, Thomas Boone Quaid, is just up from his afternoon nap. His wide-open blue eyes flash a look that says, “Play with me.” His dad cheerfully obliges, hoisting his infant son above his head in the sun-streaked living room of their manse in Pacific Palisades, just off busy Sunset Boulevard.

Quaid, 54, is enjoying a rare moment away from a film set. He’s a veteran of more than 50 movies -- highlights include The Big Easy, Breaking Away, Great Balls of Fire!, the recent Vantage Point, and an upcoming role as a football coach in The Express, the true story of the first black Heisman Trophy winner, releasing Oct. 3, 2008. He is, at this moment at least, clearly off duty, enjoying his real-life role as doting dad.

Nearby, on the sofa, T. Boone’s twin sister, Zoe Grace, sits on her mother’s lap, her eyes as summer-sky blue as her brother’s. Kimberly Quaid, 36, a slender cool-blond with kind eyes, proudly reports that Zoe’s a girly girl, even at 8 months old. Five dogs -- two labs, two pugs, one French bulldog -- banned from the living room, hang close by, panting and trespassing as often as possible.

The contrast between this happy, lazy Monday afternoon in late June and the frightening, sleepless weeks the Quaids endured after the babies were born in November 2007 is like day and night.

Dennis Quaid on Medical Mistakes

Less than a year has passed since his twins survived the highly publicized two-time accidental overdoses of the blood-thinner drug heparin, but those few months have dramatically upended Quaid’s life.

He’s no longer just Dennis Quaid, actor, husband, father. He’s added ‘’health activist” to that list, and he takes his new role seriously. He and Kimberly have since founded The Quaid Foundation -- thequaidfoundation.org -- dedicated to helping minimize the kind of medical mistakes in hospitals that befell their newborn twins.

“There’s a real problem going on,” Quaid says of the drug errors and other medical mistakes that are surprisingly common in U.S. hospitals, “and it needs to be addressed. I just don’t want to see something like this happen to someone else’s kids.” (Besides the twins, Quaid has a 16-year-old son, Jack, from his previous marriage to fellow actor Meg Ryan.)

The overdose incident was equally life-changing for Kimberly, a former real estate agent who’s been married to Dennis since 2004. As upsetting as it all was, and she still wells up when she talks about it, “I feel like we’re here for a reason, that this happened for a reason.”

That reason? Nothing less than to change the way health care is practiced in the United States.

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