My son, who's now 18, was born with a serious heart defect called transposition of the great vessels. If not diagnosed immediately, this can be fatal. We were fortunate because he was diagnosed before we left the hospital. Not all children are lucky enough to have a speedy diagnosis. My great-niece was born with the same heart defect and was sent home after birth, seemingly healthy. She started to have feeding problems, her color was blue and eventually she started losing weight. She was seeing the doctor every single day. At 3 weeks of age, her doctor did a pulse oximetry test to measure the oxygen in her blood and found out that her oxygen was at only 68 percent. This was the clue the doctors needed to figure out she had a heart defect.
Both my son and niece, now 5, have required open-heart surgeries. I'm happy to report that both are doing well. As a nurse, I believe that every newborn should have a pulse oximetry screening. If the oxygen is low, that signals a possible heart problem. Many parents probably assume that such a heart screening already is routine, but it's not.
The American Heart Association supports legislation in Oklahoma that would mandate pulse oximetry testing on all newborns. House Bill 1347 has already passed the House and will be before the Senate soon. I ask that all our legislators and Gov. Mary Fallin help babies with heart defects. Let's get this bill passed.
Kristi Boswell-Weathers, Blanchard
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