Simple screening test saves life of Mattydale newborn

Friday marks New Born Heart Defects Screening Awareness Day, which brings attention to a non-invasive screening test that helps identify newborns at risk for heart defects.

The simple, low-cost test, pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, consists of sensors placed on baby's hand and foot to check low blood oxygen levels - a significant indicator of heart issues in babies.

It's a test that saved Kelsey Thomas' infant son Jacob. A nurse noticed Jacob looked a little blue and decided to give him the pulse ox test. It showed his oxygen level was at 78% when it should be between 95 and 100%.

He was taken to Rochester where cardiologists performed open heart surgery when he was only 7 days old to repair redundant tissue on one of his heart valves.

"Especially with how little he was. You can't imagine that. Nobody can imagine the fear that goes through a parent. You have to trust the doctor with your baby's life. It's not a simple outpatient procedure. It's one of the most difficult surgeries you can do," says Thomas.

Jacob is a very happy healthy baby today because a diligent nurse decided to give him the pulse ox test. But hospitals in the state of New York do not require a pulse ox test before discharge.

The American Heart Association is calling on the state legislature to pass legislation which would require hospitals to screen newborns for heart defects before being discharged from the hospital.

Similar laws have already been pased in New Jersey, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Indiana.

Thomas knows first hand how this simple, low-cost test can save your baby's life.

"I was lucky. I was lucky they found something was wrong with my son before I brought him home because I don't know where I would be without my baby. I really don't," says Thomas.

Despite pending legislation, at least two Syracuse hospitals have been performing the screening since May 2011; Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital.