Initial signs indicated Ashley Brown's newborn, Fayelen, was a healthy baby. Three months later the infant was undergoing open-heart surgery.
Brown, of Skiatook, said a simple test at the hospital could have determined her baby had a congenital heart defect and how well her baby's heart was functioning. Instead, she had to rush her daughter to a hospital in Tulsa and then on to a Dallas hospital for open-heart surgery.
Brown said her daughter had a rare congenital heart defect that kills 75 percent of babies who do not have open heart surgery within two weeks.
Brown and Fayelen, now 2, showed up at Tuesday's meeting of the House of Representatives Public Health Committee to support passage of House Bill 1347.
The measure, by Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, would require pulse oximetry screenings on all newborns. It passed 9-1 and now goes to the full House.
The legislation has the backing of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
“The test takes just seconds to run but will help save the lives of many Oklahoma babies born with a heart defect,” said Dr. John Robinson, the medical association's president.
A survey of 59 hospitals that have birthing facilities in the state show the test is being done or will be done shortly in all but one, said Patti Davis, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. The group supports the concept, but would prefer it be included as a standard of care for hospitals within the state Health Department instead of a state law to require the procedure.
“We certainly don't oppose pulse oximetry for newborns, but we believe this can be done by rule,” she said. “We believe that our hospitals are providing this standard of care today.”
The test consists of putting a band on a finger or toe to get a percentage reading of how much oxygen is in the infant's blood, according to the American Heart Association. If the oxygen is low, that would signal more tests are necessary and that there could be a heart problem.
Brown, 27, said she sensed something was wrong with Fayelen just days after they both were home. She took the baby to her doctor once a week.
“Finally at 3 months old, she basically crashed,” Brown said.
“They determined she needed immediate open-heart surgery and she was life-flighted by jet to Dallas immediately and had open-heart surgery. Her repair is holding and she's much better now.”