Posted: Sat 19th Nov 2022

Local MS Jack Sargeant calls on Welsh Government to back ‘test for Tommy campaign’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Nov 19th, 2022

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Local MS, Jack Sargeant, questioned Wales’s Minister for Health Eluned Morgan this week calling for the Welsh Government to back the test for Tommy campaign.

The campaign is looking to provide life-saving pulse oximetry machines in maternity wards across the United Kingdom.

The campaign is run by the Charity Tiny Tickers.  The charities website says “Tiny Tickers is a small national charity with big ambitions. ”

“We’ve got a proud track record of helping improve the detection, care, and treatment of babies with serious heart conditions”

Pulse Oximetry testing helps to detect heart defects by measuring oxygen levels (oxygen saturation) in the blood.

It uses a light sensor to assess the level of oxygen in the baby’s blood.

The test takes a few minutes at no discomfort to the baby.

Not every baby will be born displaying signs and symptoms and with this machine many more life-threatening defects can be detected.

At present, pulse oximetry testing is not a mandatory newborn test within NHS hospitals, and many maternity units do not have the means to introduce these life-saving machines. 

For these reasons, Tiny Tickers aims to provide Pulse Oximetry Testing kits in maternity units across the UK which can then be used as part of standard newborn tests.

Jack Sargeant MS

Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant asked the Minister: “I’m sure you’ll be aware of the amazing work done by the Test for Tommy campaign, and they are looking to provide life-saving pulse oximetry machines in maternity wards across the United Kingdom.”

“Minster, I understand that I’ve just brought this to your attention and I’m asking for your consideration to support the campaign.”

“If you are not able to do that today, would you come back to the Chamber to see if you could make sure the Test for Tommy campaign could be installed and implemented throughout Wales?”

The Minister has promised to come back to Jack and respond in full.

Tommy’s Story

Natasha Pye’s son, Tommy, was one of the 1000 newborn babies who leaves hospital every year with their heart defects undetected.
Tommy was born on the 22nd January 2015. Despite having an extra scan at 32 weeks, nothing abnormal was detected during Natasha’s pregnancy.

He had very cold hands and feet, was disinterested in feeding and slept all the time.

Natasha was worried something wasn’t right, but he passed all his newborn tests and Natasha was told there was nothing to worry about.

However, Natasha’s concerns continued to mount.

Tommy’s nappies were dry, he was always cold and seemed short of breath.

His colour changed from purple to grey and his lips became dark blue when he cried (which wasn’t often).

Natasha voiced her anxieties to numerous health professionals, but was repeatedly told there was no cause for concern.

On the 2nd February, at eleven days old, Tommy started to cry and Natasha was unable to settle him.

At bedtime, Tommy stopped crying very suddenly and Natasha noticed he wasn’t breathing.

They called an ambulance, but there was nothing anyone could do. Tommy had tragically passed away.

Tommy’s post-mortem showed he had a congenital heart defect called, Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). TGA can be corrected with surgery – surgery that has a 99% success rate, if only his heart condition had been detected.

Natasha believes that if Tommy had been given a pulse oximetry test soon after birth, he would still be here today.

She says, ‘I can never explain to someone the pain of losing your baby. It’s a pain nobody wants to imagine or ever feel.’

Natasha now campaigns tirelessly for pulse oximetry to be included as part of the mandatory NHS newborn checks.

She says, ‘Early detection during pregnancy is the ideal scenario but, as an extra safety net, our local hospital is now using Pulse Oximetry testing as part of newborn checks’.

Our Test for Tommy campaign is dedicated to the memory of baby Tommy and aims to ensure that every baby is given the test that could help save their life. A pulse oximetry test measures the oxygen saturation levels in a baby’s blood. It is quick, painless and a low reading could indicate a heart defect.

We want to ensure that no baby will ever die from an undiagnosed heart defect.

Tiny Tickers has now placed 361 pulse oximetry machines across the UK and counting, but the charity needs help to ensure every baby has the test that can help save their life.

The cost for providing and placing each bedside machine (or 3 handheld equivalents) is £725.

“Together we can make sure every hospital has access to at least one of these potentially life-saving machines.” The charity says.

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