My name is Megan Allen, and I live in Waterville, Maine. I am a member of You’re the Cure and volunteer for the American Heart Association because I believe it is critically important that all newborns are screened for critical congenital heart defects. The American Heart Association is leading the fight to make sure all babies have this important screening.
My daughter Ava would not be alive today if her heart defect was not detected and I have been fighting since she was a baby to make sure others have a fighting chance.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, occurring in 1 in 100 babies. These are structural defects in the heart that occur during the mother’s pregnancy. There is no known cause. CHD's are also the number 1 birth defect related killers. Often, more than one defect is present.
There is a simple test, called pulse oximetry that can detect congenital heart defects, or CHD's. It's a non-invasive test that quickly measures how much oxygen is circulating through your body. Most major hospitals and birthing centers in the state are already performing pulse oximetry testing on newborns as part of their newborn screenings—but not all. That is why Maine needs policies in place at the state level.
Ava has had 4 open heart surgeries as treatments for her heart defect, Tricuspid Atresia. As her CHD was diagnosed, we had time to carefully plan the timing of these surgeries, and today she is doing great! The best prevention of mortality from a heart defect is early detection, and that is why we need to make pulse oximetry testing a standard of care for all newborns in Maine.
Maine is almost there, and I will keep fighting until we are!