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New State Law Requires Heart Screening For Newborns

Last updated on Thursday, April 12, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - An Indiana mother is pushing for a new state law that would require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects.

Kristine McCormick said she's raising awareness for the law because her baby, Cora, died unexpectedly from a heart defect at just 5 days old.

McCormick said her baby never showed signs of coronary problems, RTV6's Stacia Matthews reported.

"I was breast-feeding her one early morning and I looked down and she was already (gone)," McCormick said.

After her daughter's death, McCormick spent the next two years raising awareness about undiagnosed congenital heart defects in newborns. In January, her efforts helped pass "Cora's Law," screening guidelines which require babies to undergo pulse oximetry screening, a simple, non-invasive and painless test used to measure oxygen levels in the blood.

The test was administered to baby Gabriel McIntire. He failed, and further tests found a narrowing of his aorta. The baby was rushed to Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent in Indianapolis where doctors repaired the life-threatening defect.

"It involved cutting out a portion where it was narrowed and then sewing it back together," said Dr. V. Simon Abraham, a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon with St. Vincent Health. "His long-term outcome is going to be excellent."

Gabriel's mother, Beth McIntire, said she was thankful for the test.

"That could have been us. A month's difference in time, the law was implemented the first of January," McIntire said. "If (Gabriel) had been born a month earlier, we might not have him."

McCormick and McIntire met for the first time in late March in a tearful union. McCormick said nothing will ever bring her daughter back, but knowing that the law will protect other unsuspecting parents helps ease the pain.

"This is the closest that it'll come to make this better," McCormick said.

McCormick hopes her efforts will pay off in other states, where she's now focusing her efforts to raise awareness about congenital heart defect in newborns.

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