Mother’s praise for new hospital test which saved the life of her daughter, five years after her first child died aged six weeks

Rose, aged just one day, after her operation in London.

Rose, aged just one day, after her operation in London. - Credit: Archant

A grateful mother whose first daughter died aged six weeks today told of her joy that a pilot programme which saved her third child's life will be rolled out across the country's hospitals.

Kate Emery and her husband Giles, of Sprowston, were ready to embark on the joys of starting a family when Mrs Emery gave birth to Freya, a seemingly normal and healthy baby.

But after just six weeks the couple's lives were shattered by Freya's death from a congenital heart disease, which didn't show up on routine tests.

Five years later in 2014, their third child Rose was born and doctors gave her a new test at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as part of a pilot scheme.

The test revealed Rose had a similar heart condition to Freya's and she was rushed to Evelina London Children's Hospital, where surgeons performed open heart surgery on her.

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She was aged just one day at the time.

But Rose survived and the pilot test (pulse oxymetry screening) which alerted doctors to her fatal underlying condition will now be recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and introduced to hospitals in England.

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The test screens babies for congenital heart defects that are not detected during pregnancy by routine ultrasound scans and examinations of new-borns.

Mrs Emery, who works as a project manager for James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, said: 'We had taken Freya home from the hospital and were so ready to be parents, and then suddenly we were sitting there with a house with lots of childrens' toys and stuff, but no child.

'When we had our next child (Robyn) I was constantly worried for the whole nine months.'

The test increases the chance of finding an underlying congenital heart disease by more than 90pc, compared to 50pc previously.

Congenital heart defects affect about 3,500 new-born babies every year.

Around 6,000 babies are delivered at the N&N annually, of which 2-3 babies per 1,000 will have a critical heart defect at birth.

Mrs Emery added: 'Without the test we could have lost Rose as we did Freya.

'It's comforting to know that babies will now have the chance that Freya never got.

'Hopefully it will mean no parents will have to go through what we did the same way.

'The N&N saved Rose's life.'

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