Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 27, 2013

Local family at heart of new law


Somerset —

That surgery was Austin’s only open heart surgery. 
His sister, Aubrey, has undergone far more procedures.
Aubrey was born with several congenital heart defects, including pulmonary stenosis and aortic stenosis, which is what Austin was also diagnosed with. The news took Clark by complete surprise, as she’d been told it was nearly impossible that she would have another child with a heart defect. Aubrey underwent her first surgery when she was just two weeks old. To date, she’s had 11 surgeries. And in August, she underwent an exploratory heart catheterization procedure, after which doctors announced she seemed to be doing just fine.
And a third has joined their brood. Clark and her current husband decided to be tested for any genetic mutations that could lead to heart defects in their child. They received a clean bill of health, and now Austin and Aubrey have a younger brother, one-year-old Easton, who is a perfectly healthy baby boy. 
Clark counts herself among the lucky parents. She said she knows personally parents who have lost their children to heart defects that weren’t caught in time. The pulse oximetry test can alert doctors to a low blood oxygen level, a result of a malfunctioning heart, and steps can be taken to diagnose the baby quickly. 
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Clark. “It doesn’t hurt and it just takes a few minutes.”
The bill was sponsored by Senator Dennis Parrett, (D), who represents Hardin and Jefferson counties. Parrett, Clark and a third person, all of whom have dealt personally with CHD issues, testified before a special senate committee about the importance of a mandatory pulse oximetry test for newborns. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2014. 
“Every baby in Kentucky will be tested,” said Clark. “ ... Before the baby leaves the hospital, it will have a pulse oximetry test.”

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