Uckfield mum backs heart test

Shontele Pace, of Uckfield, nearly lost her new-born daughter Yazmin to a heart condition which, if undiagnosed, would have been fatal.

Two years on, in light of February’s National Heart Month, Shontele is supporting the Children’s Heart Federation campaign to have a new test, which detects congenital heart defects in new-borns, implemented in all local hospitals.

Just 13 days into Yazmin’s life, Shontele could tell something was wrong. “At birth we noticed her heart was racing and her breathing was odd. We brought our worries up with hospital staff a number of times but we were given the all clear and sent home.”

On her second trip to the GP the alarm was raised. “I had a mother’s instinct of knowing something wasn’t right. During the appointment she started turning blue and we were blue lighted to our local hospital. I have never experienced stress, worry, or loneliness like I felt that day,” Shontele recalls.

Yazmin underwent major surgery when she was just two weeks old and pulled through. She is now doing very well.

The Pulse Oximetry test can help doctors catch heart conditions like Yazmin’s earlier. The Children’s Heart Federation is calling for a post-natal heart test, known as Pulse Oximetry, to be given at every hospital to all newborns within 24 hours of their birth. The test can detect over 90 per cent of life threatening heart defects, and one in five hospitals already provide the test. The Government’s National Screening Committee is reviewing the case for Pulse Oximetry, which has received around 300 submissions of support from paediatric units, clinicians, royal colleges, professional bodies, voluntary and community sector organisations and members of the public.

Anne Keatley-Clarke, of CHF, said: “We really urge maternity units in East Sussex to provide this vital test so children with critical heart conditions have it detected and they get the life-saving surgery they undoubtedly deserve.”