Test for Tommy – big ambitions for tiny hearts

It’s a week on from the launch of our Test For Tommy appeal – and, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, in just seven days we’ve raised enough to add to the 70 pulse oximetry testing machines we’ve already funded in the UK.

I’ve been moved by the donations, the messages of support, and the personal stories so many of you have shared with us. It’s been a heart-warming, and heartbreaking, few days.

But there’s so much more to do to reach our target of 330 machines by 2021. That’s a huge ambition for a small charity like ours but, with your support, we can achieve it – together we can help save the lives of babies with congenital heart disease.

The thinking behind our desire to place pulse oximetry machines in NHS hospitals across the UK is simple. It stems from our desire that no baby should die from an undetected CHD. We have a three-step plan for helping health professionals spot CHD.

Step one is training sonographers to help them with the difficult task of spotting cardiac defects in hearts the size of acorns at 20 week pregnancy scans. Since we started this expert training, the UK national average prenatal detection rate has doubled from 25% to around 50%.

Pulse Oximetry TestThat’s amazing, and we’re incredibly proud of our part in that. But it’s still estimated that 1000 newborns head home from UK hospitals every year with no one realising they have a potentially life-threatening heart defect.

That’s where our new Test for Tommy appeal comes in – step two is funding machines that can spot one of the signs of CHD. Pulse oximetry testing is a quick, simple and non-invasive test for newborns that can indicate a possible heart problem. We want every newborn to have this test, so we’re raising money to fund machines for every NHS Trust that wants them.

Step three is our Think HEART campaign – which teaches doctors, parents and carers the five signs of an undiagnosed heart condition. We think this awareness campaign can be a great safety net.

So, our work directly helps with both prenatal and postnatal detection of CHD – we help save lives.

But we can’t do it without you, and that’s why we launched Test for Tommy. Each pulse oximetry machine costs £725 to buy and place – and can then be used to test hundreds of babies each year.

The 70 machines we’ve already funded will be used to test more than 100,000 babies every year. Just think how many more we’ll be able to reach as our Test for Tommy appeal continues.

Thank you to everyone who has helped the appeal get off to such a fantastic start – by donating and spreading awareness. Together, we’re making a big difference for tiny hearts.

Jon Arnold, Tiny Tickers’ CEO