Family whose son nearly died pushes for heart screening

Paul and Dana Vlasics support bill

Posted: 10:06 PM EDT Sep 26, 2013   Updated: 7:06 AM EDT Sep 27, 2013

A family from Nazareth wants to make sure no newborn baby goes home from the hospital sick.

Paul and Dana Vlasics support a bill that would require all babies in Pennsylvania get screened for heart defects before they're sent home.

Their three-year-old son Sam is now healthy, but his life started off with a scare.

"All his newborn tests came back just fine," said Dana. "The next morning the pediatrician came into the nursery to do the newborn exam and he didn't feel femoral pulses. They're the pulses on the inside of the thighs."

The Vlasics said after the doctor detected something was wrong, tests showed Sam had been born with two heart defects.

Dana said, "The part of the aorta that was oxygenating the bottom half of his body wasn't connected."

Sam has had two open heart surgeries in his young life and is now doing well.

His parents want all newborns to get a quick and painless test called a pulse oximetry screening that screens for low blood oxygen concentration, which can indicate a heart defect.

The Vlasics said some hospitals perform the test on babies before sending them home and others don't. House Bill 1420 would require the tests.

"For babies it almost looks like a bandaid: it wraps around the finger," explained Dana.

Paul Vlasics has a message for other parents. "Ask for it to be done and if this bill gets passed, then it will be done and it won't be an issue for parents."

Sam is a success story and his parents want to make sure all babies have a chance.

Paul said, "I'm proud of him. He's a tough little guy and he's been through a lot, more than anyone should ever go through."