THE mother of a baby born with a heart defect is backing a charity’s call to introduce testing before birth.
Nine-month-old Oakley Wildman was born with a heart condition called tetralogy of fallot.
It means the tot has four problems with his heart – including a narrow valve and a thick ventricle.
In the first few months of his life, he has had two operations, including open heart surgery.
His mother Courtney Fisher, 22, of Havant Road, Drayton, had no idea about Oakley’s heart problems until he was delivered by emergency caesarean section in May.
She said: ‘When he was born, he was really blue, and they used a ventilator on him.
‘They did an echocardiogram and found very quickly that he had a heart condition.
‘It was a quick diagnosis, and he was transferred to Southampton General Hospital.’
After a seven-month stay in hospital, Oakley finally came home.
He will need a lifetime of care and monitoring, which the family wasn’t quite prepared for.
Courtney added: ‘I want to raise awareness of testing babies in the womb.
‘Sometimes a problem can be picked up when the baby is in the womb.
‘For me, I would’ve wanted to know as soon as possible, so I could be more prepared.’
February is national Congenital Heart Defect month, which is run by CHD UK.
Rachel Clynch, trustee of the CHD UK charity, said it campaigns to have early testing.
She said: ‘We educate and raise awareness of congenital heart defects and actively promotes campaigns for the need for testing prior to birth with the use of echo cardiograms, as well as on all newborns via pulse oximetry tests.
‘A congenital heart defect is one that is present at birth, and includes malformations of the heart valves or arteries, as well as a defect in the wall between the different chambers of the heart.
‘However these tests cannot guarantee to pick up all defects but may just give enough of an indication to cause further testing.
‘There are more than 40 different heart defects and they can be present in almost any combination within one individual.
‘Some of our members are able to live a relatively normal life, while others are quite severely disabled as a result of their condition.
‘Our aim is to educate the public to make them aware of the number one birth defect, which kills more children than all cancers combined.’