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Plano Mom Pleads With Lawmakers For Newborn Testing

A Plano mother whose infant son died pleaded with state lawmakers today to approve a bill that would automatically test newborns for congenital heart defects.

Tracy Severs told committee members reviewing the legislation that  5-month old Nash appeared to be a healthy child until his heart unexpectedly failed in 2008.

Severs said a simple, inexpensive blood test that can be done in hospitals might have alerted her to the need for early treatment. 

“To know we are so close to saving babies across Texas brings so much emotion,” Severs told members of the House Public Health Committee. 

“What if Nash would have had his oxygen levels tested before we left the hospital?  What if his heart defects would have been found from the beginning?  What if he had been saved?  It’s the ‘what if’s’ that make it so hard,” she said.

House Bill 740 filed by Representative Myra Crownover of Denton would add testing for heart defects to some 30 other newborn screens in Texas.  Budget analysts say the testing would add to additional costs to the state budget.

If committee members approve the bill it will be sent to the full House for consideration.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.