A mother's intuition saved her 13-day-old daughter from a potentially fatal heart condition.
Shontele Pace, 25, of Uckfield, knew something was seriously wrong with baby Yasmin despite being told by her doctor she was probably just suffering from colic.
But when Shontele took her little girl back to her GP she turned blue and had to be rushed into hospital. Two days later she had major heart surgery – but now aged 18 months she is doing fine.
Shontele has praised the quick actions of the doctors of at Brighton’s Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, but has called for a simple test for all newborn babies to detect congential heart defects.
She said: “It was really horrible at the time, but now she’s as healthy as any other 18-month-old.
“When she was 13 days old she had a really bad night and I took her to the doctors. They told me it was colic and to take her home. But I just knew something wasn’t right.
“I took her back to the doctors and while we were there she went blue, they gave her oxygen and blue-lighted her to the Royal Alex, where they found she had complete heart failure.
“At 15 days old she had open heart surgery.
“It was a really lonely, horrible time. It is the most horrible feeling I’ve ever had sitting there with your child just lying in front of you.
“She’s not on any medication now and her heart is fixed, but she will have to be monitored for the rest of her life.
“Thanks to the amazing medical intervention, she is doing fantastic and running around like any normal 18-month-old. Without that, the outcome could have been so different and I can’t even think about that.”
Shontele has spoken about her harrowing experience to support the Children’s Heart Foundation’s calls for tests for congenital heart defects to be implemented in all maternity hospitals.
Pulse Oximetry tests given within 24 hours of birth can help doctors catch heart conditions like Yazmin’s earlier.
The test can detect over 90% of life-threatening heart defects.
Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of CHF, explains why this is crucial: “Every year, 5,000 babies are born with congenital heart disease.
“However, only a third of these conditions are detected during a mother’s pregnancy scan. Delays in diagnosis cause distress, physical harm and can even be life-risking for these babies.
“We urge maternity units in East Sussex to provide this vital test so that children with critical heart conditions have their condition detected and they get the life-saving surgery they undoubtedly deserve.”
The UK National Screening Committee, which advises the Government on health policy, is currently reviewing the case for Pulse Oximetry and hopes to make a decision in March.
Anyone interested in supporting the CHF campaign can sign a petition at www.chfed.org.uk/pulseox.