Pulse Ox Legislation Could Save Babies Born in Va.

RICHMOND (WRIC)—A bill to help save more babies' lives in Virginia is one step closer to becoming a law.

It's a happy reunion when Lucas sees his mother, Denise Smith, at daycare after they've been apart for a few hours. Just getting to this point is a miracle; when Lucas was born in May 2012, a pulse ox found his heart's right ventricle was completely blocked.

“One of the doctors was coming in, and all I heard was, ‘Your baby needs to be transferred to UVA for heart surgery,'” Smith said. “From that point it was kind of like a whirlwind.”

Lucas was treated in the nick of time, but congenital heart defects go undetected in others until it's too late.

“Had we not found that, the doctors told us we would have taken him home and he would have died, because there would have been no flow to his heart,” Smith said.

In 2011, 17 out of every 1,000 babies born in Virginia had such a defect. It was critical enough to cause death or serious disability in one out of every 1,000.

Pulse oximetry, a test that checks blood oxygen levels, has been nationally recommended for three years, but it hasn't been required here in the Commonwealth like it is in nearly 30 other states.

Smith's little boy's rough beginning seems like a lifetime ago, and now she is hopeful that, with the governor's signature, all parents can take their newborns home with the same peace of mind.

“We're just obviously, whew, very blessed and lucky that we had the pulse ox testing,” Smith said. “Because otherwise, he wouldn't be here.”

Gov. McAuliffe is expected to sign this legislation.


Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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