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Mum praises hospital’s new-born screening test

An innovative screening programme for new-born infants carried out by Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, has been credited with helping save the life of a baby girl who was born with a serious heart condition.

On April 25th, Burren mum-of-two Katie Dinsmore gave birth to her daughter Daire, following a normal pregnancy and delivery.  The following day, as Katie and her partner Alan were preparing to take baby Daire  home, it was discovered through a routine scanning test that the infant had been born with the congenital heart defect TGA  (Transposition of the Great Arteries).

 Baby Dáire was rushed to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin where, just a few hours later, she underwent keyhole surgery, followed by open heart surgery the next day.

Now fully recovered, Daire and her parents returned to the hospital recently to meet with some of the nurses who cared for her.  Her relieved mum praised the paediatric team at Daisy Hill, which is the only hospital in Northern Ireland to use the screening programme known as Pulse Oximetry on new-borns.  

“It was an absolute shock to find out that our beautiful baby who appeared so healthy had such a serious heart complication but we are so lucky that the paediatric team use this test.  We could have been away home and who knows what could have happened her at a later stage,” Katie said.  “The surgery Dáire had in Dublin should stand by her now, she may need further treatment in the future, but at least we now are aware of the risks and can keep a close eye on her.”

Daisy Hill’s paediatric team, along with their maternity colleagues, undertake the Pulse Oximetry routine oxygen saturation test for all babies before they are discharged home.

Dr Bassam Aljarad, Southern Trust Associate Medical Director for Children and Young People, who introduced the screening programme explained: “Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a general term for a range of birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart. It is one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting up to 9 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK. Nearly 50% of babies born with a CHD appear healthy at first without any noticeable symptoms and may be discharged, for their health to deteriorate, days or sometimes a few months later. 

 “More timely detection helps us to identify more babies with CHD at a much earlier stage, ensuring that we can keep them monitored and give them the treatment they need to prevent greater health  consequences, disability or in the worse cases premature death. 

Baby Dáire Dinsmore from Burren with her parents, Katie and Alan, returned to Daisy Hill Hospital to meet with Staff Midwife Rachel Tinnelly and Dr Sally Anne Devine, GP trainee in paediatrics for the Southern Trust.
Included is Irwyn McKibbin, Chairman of Heartbeat NI which funded the Pulse Oximetry equipment that detected Daire’s serious heart condition soon after she was born.

Along with our standard clinical examination, this additional very simple screening test, which only takes a few minutes greatly increases the accuracy in diagnosing CHD.”

 Heartbeat NI charity funded the screening equipment at Daisy Hill Hospital.  Speaking on behalf of the charity, its chairman Irwyn McKibbin, said: “While CHD may only be detected in one or two babies each year through screening, the difference from screening can be life changing for that small number of families. Without such a proactive approach by the paediatric team, the outcome for baby Dáire could have been very different. 

 “I would appeal to all hospitals to make pulse oximetry testing as a mandatory check on newborns. It is vitally important that babies with a heart defect are diagnosed as soon as possible and treated as a matter of urgency. I would like to congratulate the staff at Daisy Hill for not only undertaking what was initially a pilot study, but for persisting with it once the trial period expired. I am delighted for Katie and Alan that Dáire is doing so well and that Heartbeat NI played a small part in this good news story,” he added.

The Southern Trust says it is now exploring the potential of introducing the test to Craigavon Area Hospital.