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Wyatt's Story: We can't afford to wait

The smallest hearts can oftentimes conceal big health and medical challenges, especially when it comes to critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). My son, Wyatt, was born with Complex Congenital Heart Defect with Hypo-Plastic Left Heart, a type of CCHD.

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I know firsthand the devastating effects that heart disease can have on a family. And I'm not the only one. According to the American Heart Association, one out of 100 babies are born with a critical congenital heart defect, making it the No. 1 cause of birth defects and leading cause of death in newborns.

We could save these tiny lives if newborns were appropriately screened for heart defects before being discharged from the hospital. Using a test called pulse oximetry, we can detect low oxygen levels in the blood — a significant indicator of heart issues in babies.  My son was not diagnosed until he was 3 weeks old, and I later found out that he was not supposed to live. But a miracle saved him.  This test would have caught it right away. 

I’m proud that Wyoming is taking steps to join the 45 other states and the District of Columbia that require this lifesaving and changing screening. I would like to applaud the efforts of the Department of Health, Newborn Screening Committee, the Attorney General’s office and Governor Matt Mead for moving forward to amend the newborn screening tests required by the state to include CCHD screening in all newborns.

I urge the state to move quickly to implement this life-saving tool in all 21 birthing facilities located across the state. As of now, there are still many hospitals that are not using this simple test to screen for CCHDs, and there is not a centralized process to ensure if all newborns are screened.

With each day that passes without this requirement, there is a risk of parents, like myself, leaving the hospital with a child who has an undetected, life-threatening illness. We can’t afford to wait any longer to protect Wyoming’s smallest and most vulnerable hearts.

Please CLICK HERE to take action today by emailing Governor Matt Mead!

Cameon Berkovitz

Rawlins, Wyoming

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