By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Covington mom pushes for heart testing
Placeholder Image

COVINGTON, Ga. (AP) — Georgia hospitals may be required to test all newborns for congenital heart defects after a Covington mom's efforts to push legislation for pulse oximetry screenings-- a painless, under one-minute test which requires doctors to place a small device on a newborn's toe or finger to check blood oxygen levels and heart rates.

Jessica Hatcher's son Wyatt, 3, was born with a congenital heart defect that required a heart transplant. Hatcher told the Newton Citizen ( ) for a story Tuesday that without the test, his condition may have gone unnoticed.

Republican Rep. Andy Welch of McDonough introduced a bill calling for the Georgia Department of Public Health to study whether pulse oximetry screening should be a standard test for newborns. The study will look at the benefits of testing, the potential cost and implementation. If approved, it would mean insurance companies would be required to cover the cover the test at about $4 per child.

While larger hospitals such as Northside Hospital in Atlanta run pulse oximetry screenings on newborns, most outside the metro area do not, Hatcher said. More than 18,000 babies are delivered each year at Northside, the most in the state.

"We are so humbled this is actually happening," Hatcher said. "We have the opportunity to help children."

Wyatt is currently recuperating from another surgery. It's Hatcher's hope that her son's plight can give other children a chance at life.

"We feel like Wyatt is here for a reason and this may very well be it," Hatcher said. "What we can do for other people is why he is here."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says congenital heart defects are the leading cause of infant death due to birth defects.