AFTER nearly losing her son to a severe heart condition just hours after he was born a Vale mum has pledged her support to a campaign calling for all new borns to be given a life saving test.

Dexter Shears was just 24 hours old when he began struggling for breath and could have died if he hadn't been in the care of midwives.

His mum, Rosalyn Carter, says she can't imagine life without him is backing the Children’s Heart Federation campaign calling for a test, which detects congenital heart defects in new-borns, to be implemented in all local hospitals.

"Dexter's story is actually a really good one for the campaign," said Miss Carter, of Atch Lench, near Evesham.

"We had no idea he had this very significant heart defect as it was missed on scans. 24 hours after he was born I was unwell, and he was being looked after by the midwives. Luckily they realised he was struggling for breath.

"Had he been with next to me in a cot, and I had been asleep, he would almost certainly have just slipped away."

Had Dexter, who is now eight years old (will be nine on March 8), been given the post-natal heart screening, known as pulse oximetry testing, his condition would have been detected.

Miss Carter added: "Dexter was not tested for any heart problems and we were told he would have been tested at some point over the next few days. To contemplate that he so nearly died due to the simplest of tests not being carried out is nearly unimaginable."

Sadly some heart conditions do go fatally undetected and this is why the charity is calling for the screening to be given automatically to all newborns within 24 hours of their birth.

Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of the Children's Heart Federation, said: "We urge maternity units in Worcester to provide this vital test so children with critical heart conditions have their condition detected and they get the life-saving surgery they undoubtedly deserve."

The test can detect over 90 percent of life threatening heart defects, and one in five hospitals already provide the test.

The Government’s National Screening Committee is currently reviewing the case for Pulse Oximetry.

Andrew Short, divisional medical director for women and children, said the technique is used at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital where a heart problem is suspected, also for any baby leaving hospital at a few hours of age and before signs of heart problems might become apparent.

"We have decided to await national guidance on who should do universal pulse oximetry and when it should be done to avoid false results, and we expect the national screening committee to make a decision soon," he said.

"In the meantime we are preparing to start formal baby-check clinics in a designated room on the post natal ward which will be equipped with a pulse oximeter so that this can become a routine part of the baby check in the future."

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