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'Very simple test could have saved Lexi's life'.

Byline: Mark Smith Health Correspondent mark.smith@walesonline.co.uk

GRIEVING parents who lost their three-month-old baby to a rare illness have launched a campaign for all newborns to be tested for heart conditions.

Gemma Williams and Jason Thomas were left devastated when their tiny daughter Lexi died after falling ill during a shopping trip in Carmarthen in March 2013.

The 12-week-old was found to have total anomalous pulmonary venous drainage - a condition where very little oxygenated blood is pumped around the body.

But due to a large hole in her heart the condition went undetected because a mixture of oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood was circulating. The heartbroken couple have now called for all newborns to be given the "pulse oximetry" test which monitors oxygen levels in the blood and could spot potentially fatal heart conditions.

Recalling the moment her daughter died, Gemma said: "There was a sale on in Next and I went in to see what outfits were on offer.

"I went to touch Lexi's face but she didn't react. Then I realised something wasn't right and I shouted for help.

"Luckily there was someone in the shop who was medically trained and was trying to resuscitate her while we waited for an ambulance. I didn't think it was real. Before I knew it my child was gone. The pain will never go - I have just learnt to cope with it."

Gemma has set up the petition to prevent other parents from suffering the same heartache. I really don't want other families to experience the pain and heartache our family has been through," said Gemma, from Drefach Felindre in Carmarthenshire.

"I have learnt that a simple test can be done on newborns that can check for heart defects. It is painless and only takes a few minutes. The pulse oximetry test checks the levels of oxygen in the baby's blood. Low levels of oxygen can be a sign of a critical heart defect."

The petition, called Lexi's Vital Test for Newborns, on change.org urges hospitals across Wales to add a "simple test" to checks already carried out on newborns.

Since it was created online last month more than 1,200 people have signed it.

Gemma, who said she found it diffi-cult to even get out of bed following the tragedy, claims health boards do not have to spend any money on additional equipment to offer the test routinely.

She added: "It breaks my heart knowing that this very simple test could have saved Lexi's life.

"Why is this not a standard test for all newborns? The machine used for this test is already in the hospitals so hospitals would not have to spend money on equipment, just the time of the person carrying out the test.

"In my eyes this is a test well worth someone's time."

Since Lexi's death Gemma and Jason have had a healthy baby boy called Oliver who is now five months old.

To sign the petition go to change.org and type "lexi newborns" into the search engine.

CAPTION(S):

Gemma Williams and Jason Thomas

Lexi died at just 12 weeks old <B

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 10, 2015
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