A baby is born with a serious heart condition every two hours in the UK and, despite Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) being one of the biggest killers of infants in the UK, only around half of congenital heart defects are picked up during routine prenatal scanning. We are delighted to launch our national appeal, Test for Tommy, as part of our mission to ensure that no baby will die from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.
Pulse oximetry monitors can help detect serious heart conditions soon after birth and we plan to offer them to maternity wards across the country to improve early detection rates of CHD. To date, we have placed 70 machines across the country, which will benefit more than 105,000 newborns each year.
Natasha Pye’s son, Tommy, was one of the 1000 newborn babies who leaves hospital every year with their heart defects undetected. Tommy tragically passed away at 11 days old and we have dedicated this campaign to his memory. Natasha says: “We now know that Tommy had a congenital heart defect that could be corrected with surgery. If only his condition had been detected, he could be alive today.”
Not every newborn with heart problems is born displaying symptoms, and these machines will mean fewer babies will leave hospital with undetected – and potentially life-threatening – defects.
Andrew Ewer, Professor of Neonatal Medicine and pulse oximetry expert, explains more about the need for pulse oximetry testing below: “I am delighted to support Tiny Tickers pulse oximetry campaign. Pulse oximetry screening before discharge from hospital is quick, simple and painless and identifies newborn babies with critical life-threatening heart defects and other potentially serious conditions before they become seriously unwell.
Such screening is routine in an increasing number of countries and in the USA it has recently been shown to reduce deaths in babies from critical heart defects by one third. In the UK less than half of all babies born are currently being screened and this campaign by Tiny Tickers will mean that more babies will be offered this potentially life-saving test.’
Our ambition is to place 330 machines at maternity units throughout the UK by 2021. One Pulse Ox machine costs £725.
Our CEO, Jon Arnold, says: “What started with one machine for one hospital – paid for thanks to the generosity of our supporters – has already become one of our biggest projects. 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. 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.”
Every baby deserves the test that could help save their life. Simply text PULSEOX 5 to 70085 to donate to our Test for Tommy campaign and help us support more tiny hearts.