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Give all Oregon babies a healthy start

by Grace H. on Friday, January 4, 2013

I get the privilege of working with some incredible You’re the Cure volunteers every day. Lindsey and Allen Lahr are two of these volunteers who simply amaze me with their commitment and passion.

Right before the holidays Lindsey and Allen joined me at the Capitol to share the story of their son Kaleb who was born with a critical congenital heart defect (CCHD).

In 2010 Kaleb was born and it wasn’t until 14 hours after birth that a pulse oximetry test was done and Kaleb’s family discovered he had an undiagnosed critical congenital heart defect. Two years and two surgeries later he’s doing well but will need a lifetime of surgeries. We'll never know how much damage could have been avoided if he'd been tested right at birth. Kaleb wasn’t expected to live, but he made it.

Lindsey and Allen and I, along with Joanne Rogovoy from the March of Dimes, met with legislators to share Kaleb’s story and urge their support of pulse oximetry screening. Pulse oximetry tests are an inexpensive, non-invasive and effective way to identify heart defects in newborns, allowing them to receive immediate medical treatment.

Heart defects are the #1 birth defect in newborns.  In Oregon alone an estimated 400 babies are each year with a congenital heart disease.  Estimates are that 30 percent of babies with CCHD leave the hospital undiagnosed and that 50 percent of those babies die within two weeks.

Pulse oximetry tests are less than $4 – roughly the cost of a latte. Let’s put our priorities in the right place and make sure all Oregon babies get a healthy chance at life. Support Pulse Ox tests for all Oregon newborns.

- Stephanie Tama-Sweet, Oregon Government Relations Director

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