10-Year-Old Testifies In Favor of Heart Screenings for Newborns

It took a lot of courage for the young man to take the stand.

Cole Klein says it was just like football: He didn’t have a lot of time before the game was up.

Klein testified in front of lawmakers on Thursday in favor of a bill that would require all Nebraska hospitals to screen for heart defects in newborns.

Although it only took a mere two minutes, his request was loud and clear.

"Give many children, like me, a fighting chance,” said Klein. “A chance we need. A chance, I think we should have."

The 10-year-old was born with a critical congenital heart defect. He was diagnosed at eight weeks, after screening tests failed to pick up on his defect.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Smith, of Papillion, would require Nebraska hospitals to run a pulse oximetry test on all newborns.

Pulse oximetry or “pulse ox” is a simple, non-invasive and painless test that is used to measure the percent oxygen saturation of hemoglobin in the arterial blood and the pulse rate.

Pulse ox tests help in the early detection of heart defects.

The Klein family isn’t the only proponent of this bill.

According to the Associated Press, doctors who treat newborns are urging Nebraska lawmakers to support the bill.

Dr. Robert Spicer told lawmakers Thursday that the screenings would help physicians identify children who need more rigorous testing.

Spicer says 8 out of every 1,000 children born in the U.S. have a form of congenital heart disease.

In many cases the disease doesn't create a serious health risk, but 1.2 of every 1,000 children suffer from a life-threatening form of the disease.

The Health and Human Services Committee will decide whether to advance the bill for legislative debate.