A NATIONAL campaign to prevent newly born babies dying from heart defects has been dedicated to a York baby who died aged just 11 days old.

Test for Tommy is named after Tommy McKellar, who appeared fit and well when he was born at York Hospital on January 22, 2015.

York Press:

His mother Natasha Pye said she raised concerns over following days that he had very cold feet and hands, was uninterested in feeding, slept all the time, seemed to be short of breath and his lips were dark blue when he cried, but health professionals insisted there was nothing to worry about.

However on February 2, he started to cry, his crying suddenly stopped and Natasha noticed he wasn’t breathing.

Paramedics were called but were unable to save him, and a post-mortem examination subsequently showed he had a congenital heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA), which can be corrected with surgery with a 99 per cent success rate.

York Press:

Natasha, 29, who lives in Acomb with Andy McKellar, 30, a Portakabin employee, and Imogen, seven, Farrah, two, and Albie, who is just six weeks old, said: “We now know that Tommy had a congenital heart defect that could be corrected with surgery. If only his condition had been detected, he could be alive today.

“I can never explain to someone the pain of losing your baby. It’s a pain nobody wants to imagine or ever feel.”

She is backing calls by charity Tiny Tickers for every baby in the country to be given a pulse oximetry test soon after birth, which could identify heart defects quickly and effectively.

York Hospital began using the test some months after Tommy’s death and his condition was picked up in two babies. Natasha said that when Albie was born last month, he was given and passed the test, and a midwife said to him: “This test got in because of your big brother. This is all because of your brother.”

York Press:

A charity spokeswoman said: “If Tommy had been tested, he may still be here today, and that is why we are dedicating our campaign to Tommy.

“This year we are rolling out a national campaign to provide and place pulse oximetry machines in maternity wards across the UK.”

She said the machines could indicate heart or respiratory issues quickly and effectively by measuring the amount of oxygen in the blood. “An oxygen level below 95 per cent could be a key indicator that a baby may have a heart defect. This is a very simple, non-invasive test that could help identify cases quickly and effectively, leading to immediate referral if required.

“We estimate that 330 machines will fulfil the initial demand from maternity hospitals across the UK. The full cost for providing and placing each machine is £725. The full project is expected to cost £239,250.”

York Press:

Dr Elspeth Brown, consultant paediatric and fetal cardiologist at Leeds Congenital Heart unit welcomed the Tiny Tickers initiative, which she said would undoubtedly save lives.

*Text BABY46 £5 to 70070 to donate to the campaign.