Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- State lawmakers are looking to save lives with a new bill in the senate. The proposal would require state licensed birthing facilities to perform screenings that could prevent future complications and even death.
For Senator and proud grandmother Katrina Shealy, it is a bill that hits home.
"It's important to me because first of all my grandson was born with a congenital heart defect, which would have been detected sooner had they had this," said the Lexington County Senator.
The family was all set to go home, but an employee noticed something that wasn't right just as the family prepared to leave the hospital.
"It was found because a nurse, Thank God, found an irregular heartbeat, and she said let's test him and he had a congenital heart defect that would have been found sooner had they had this," said Shealy.
So when she heard about a bill aimed at addressing that issue she joined in with her support as a sponsor.
The Emerson Rose Act,named for a South Carolina child born with a congenital heart defect, would require birthing facilities licensed by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to perform a pulse oximetry screening on newborn in first two days of life.
Breana Lipscomb, Director of Program Services and Government Affairswith the South Carolina March of Dimes says the organization supports the bill that could give babies a chance at life.
"What will happen is, the baby's at home and next thing you know the mother or the caregiver will notices the baby's turning blue that's because of that low oxygen level and they end up in an emergency room and then there's a whole other set of issues that could happen," said Lipscomb.
According to the CDC, the screening can take up to five minutes, and costs $5 to $10.
Lipscomb says the test is painless and involved a sensor placed on a baby's finger or foot to measure oxygen levels.
The CDC sayscongenital heart defects can affect the structure of a baby's heart and how it works. They are the most common type of birth defect and can lead to other issues if untreated.
"A lot of times disabilities for the infant because you're talking about low oxygen levels in their blood which could then affect their brain function and other things. That's why it's important for us to diagnosis it early implement the necessary medical intervention so that we can give these babies their best chance at survival," said Lipscomb.
Shealy's grandson had surgery at 6-months old, and is now a happy 8-year-old andShe wants to same chance for others.
"Why not find out something then and lets do something about it," said Shealy.
The bill is currently in the Senate Medical Affairs committee.