Case Closed!

There is a new Cardiac Kid in the Blogroll! Drop by and say hi to Luke and his parents!

Are any Funky Heart readers fans of the TNT drama The Closer?

I love The Closer – it’s a good show in its own right, but I don’t think that you can “get it” after just one viewing. The title character is Brenda Leigh Johnson, played by Kyra Sedgwick. The “hook” of the show is that Sedgwick plays two entirely different roles: Brenda, a high ranking officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, is a true “Southern Belle” with a deep accent, a love of chocolate, and is a magnet for trouble. Everything in her life, it seems, is completely out of control and she seems to be barely holding on to her sanity… until she gets a suspect into the Interrogation Room. When she’s face to face with a potential criminal, Brenda disappears and Deputy Chief Johnson takes center stage, calmly and coolly using her training as a professional interrogator to solve the case.

The Closer is an hour long drama, if you haven’t taped the program and speed by the commercials. In that hour, you’ll laugh, you’ll usually see a good plot with lots of twists, and four children will be born with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). Because on average, a new Heart Defect is detected every fourteen minutes.

You’ll never look at an hour of time in quite the same way, will you?

We haven’t figured out how to prevent or cure Heart Defects yet. But there is a simple piece of medical technology that can give medical professionals a “heads up” on a potential Heart Defect: the Pulse Oximeter.

The Pulse Oximeter test is painless and takes ten seconds, at most. The Oximeters pictured in the link are for adult patients; there are smaller versions for children and infants. As you can see, they are relatively inexpensive, and you don’t even need a prescription to own one. I researched costs and types and then purchased mine from eBay about a week later. It looks like a thick clothespin, which I place on my finger. In just a few seconds it can tell me my pulse and the amount of oxygen in my blood.

One of the quickest, simplest tests for an underlying Congenital Heart Defect is to give a newborn a Pulse Oximeter test and see what the oxygen reading in his/her blood is. If the reading is low, a different test (Such as an ECG) can be used to see if there really is a problem.

But there is still a lot of debate about it. Some CHDs are not cyanotic, meaning that despite having a Heart Defect, the infant’s Pulse Oxygen level will be normal. Some hospitals do this test, while others don’t (.pdf file). There’s a lot of disagreement on how accurate Pulse Oximeters are in someone that young (.pdf file). A major medical study says that the test isn’t really necessary.

Yet, the test is simple, inexpensive, and painless. And by not using it – at every maternity hospital in the nation – we aren’t using every weapon in our arsenal to fight Congenital Heart Defects.

And as Deputy Chief Johnson would agree, that’s a crime.

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5 Responses to “Case Closed!”

  1. Lisa Says:


    Wow. I didn’t even see that one coming! Excellent post.

    And, I have to admit….I’ve never thought about an hour that way. I will now and I’ll share the thought.

    Take care,

  2. Carolyn Compton Says:

    i was enjoying your description of the closer when you ripped me right out of my chair and put me back into a hospital! wow! what a good writer.

  3. Kelly Says:

    Hi Steve. James is in the hospital with a violent stomach virus. Prayers appreciated…he’s suffering much and we were due in Miami tomorrow for sedated echo etc. I trust God’s will but I just don’t know why all the suffering. Maybe prayers from a fellow heart hero will travel high speed….mine seem to be on dial-up. Thanks so much friend.

  4. Pulse Oximemetry: Not Recommended « Adventures of a Funky Heart! Says:

    […] repeated pleas from the CHD community (including a post on the Funky Heart blog) the authors of the scientific statement feel there are too many variables that can affect the […]

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