The Pulse Oximetry Test: For Every Tiny Ticker

Imagine if you were about to have a baby. Now imagine you’d heard that there was a test that could be done on all newborn babies, that was quick, easy and painless, which could help detect potentially life-threatening heart disease. You’d want your baby to have that test, wouldn’t you?

That’s exactly what we thought. So, here at Tiny Tickers, we’re doing something about it.

Pulse oximetry testing is all those things I mention above – it’s a non-invasive test that can be performed a few hours after birth that measures the baby’s blood oxygen levels. A simple probe attached to a head and foot, and you get a reading within seconds. Low percentage levels could be a sign of a heart problem, meaning the baby would be sent for further examination and, possibly, starting a chain of events that saves their life.

Pulse Oximetry Project

Midwives at Airedale General Hospital with their new pulse oximetry machine

The NHS in England is still considering whether to make pulse oximetry testing mandatory for all newborns. In the meantime, recent research shows around 40% of hospitals are already introducing pulse oximetry testing, which follows the trend of countries and states around the world adopting the test.

Here at Tiny Tickers, we’re very keen to see all newborns tested. But rather than just shout about it, we decided to respond to clinical demand for the test and start doing something practical to help.

A few months ago we ran a pilot scheme to fund and place pulse oximetry machines in hospitals in Yorkshire and the Humber. It was a massive success, so we’ve extended the scheme to the West and East Midlands.

I’m delighted to say we’ve already places 70 machines. Already, every day hundreds of babies born in England are being tested with machines we’ve placed.

This is just the start. We’ve now rolled out this campaign across the UK – inviting applications from hospitals in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What started with one machine for one hospital – paid for thanks to the generosity of our supporters – has already snowballed to become one of our biggest projects, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team who have taken that vision and turned it into reality.

The first Tiny Tickers funded pulse oximetry machine, at Good Hope Hospital

I know how much this project means to our supporters who have experience of CHD. I know how much they want this test performed for all newborns, and I’m proud we’re helping make that happen.

Most gratifyingly of all, we already know the difference we’re making. One of the hospitals from our pilot scheme – one of the first to receive a machine – has already been in touch to say a baby’s heart condition was spotted following the test, using the machine we funded.

That’s why Tiny Tickers is here – practical interventions that help babies with life-threatening heart disease get the treatment they need, when they need it. As always, a huge thank you to our supporters for helping us make a difference.

Simply text PULSEOX 5 to 70085 to donate to our Pulse Oximetry project and help us support more tiny hearts. You can also donate here.