Dothan, AL - Seven year old Mary Beth Miller passed away this past spring after complications from a heart transplant. But her legacy lives on.
She inspired Alabama lawmakers to pass a new mandate that could save others. It requires all newborns be tested with a pulse oximeter.
“Pulse Oximetery is the measure of oxygen in your blood. It simply gives us a percentage of oxygen saturation. We know if your saturation is about 93 percent then your heart and lungs are working normally,” said Dr. Ted Williams, Southeastern Pediatrics Associates.
The screening will take place between 24 and 48 hours after the baby is born, and can take as little as five minutes and ten dollars to do.
“I think pulse oximetery is not invasive. It’s not expensive. It can really lead you in directions where you might not be going unless you knew. Some babies in the first 24 hours may not look acutely ill, but there are problems there developing,” said Williams.
Some medical facilities in the state had already been doing this screening on every newborn, that includes the Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Flowers Hospital.
Clinical Nurse Beth Glover has seen a lot of these problems in her thirty years of caring for newborns. She says the screening has already detected issues in some babies at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center, even one close to home.
“We have had a few babies that needed to be seen in Birmingham that we got up there before they got into trouble because of this. One of our nurses was one of the mom’s that was about to go home and her baby failed the test and does have a cardiac defect. So it has helped,” said Glover.
There is a move across the country to make this rule in every state. Alabama is in the forefront. Only 15 other states have passed mandated this screening.