Every two hours a baby is born in the UK with a serious heart condition. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the biggest killer of babies in the UK, causing one in every 13 infant deaths. Early detection of heart defects means babies will get the treatment they need from the first opportunity – which can save lives, improve post-surgery survival rates and lead to a better long-term quality of life.
Tiny Tickers is the only national charity with a focus on improving the early detection, diagnosis and care of babies with heart conditions. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect and it is Tiny Tickers’ ambition that no baby should ever die with an undetected heart defect.
Tiny Tickers’ work can literally be life-saving. They provide specialist, on-site training in maternity hospitals to sonographers and health professionals who perform pregnancy scans. To date, they have trained thousands of health professionals, helping improve detection rates of heart defects at 20 week scans and giving the babies a better chance.
At 20 weeks, a baby’s heart is only the size of a grape, making detection very difficult, which is why Tiny Tickers provide their specialist training to sonographers. Unfortunately, not every single heart condition can be picked up at this stage so as well as providing the specialist training, Tiny Tickers also provides a safety net for those newborn babies who are sent home with an undetected heart condition. They do this by increasing public awareness the signs of heart failure in babies, with campaigns such as Think HEART.
On Sunday 21st May at 4pm on BBC 1 Tiny Tickers will be featuring in a BBC Lifeline appeal, presented by Gabby Logan. By sharing very different stories of two babies born with heart conditions, Tommy and Rocco, the appeal demonstrates how Tiny Tickers’ specialist sonographer training can save lives.
The appeal begins with Natasha sharing her story. Her son, Tommy, had a congenital heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries, which sadly wasn’t detected before his birth. When he was born, he displayed all the signs of heart failure - his skin was a blue colour, he didn't want to feed, he was always asleep and cold to touch. At the time, Natasha had no idea Tommy was in heart failure but she knew something was wrong. She voiced her concerns to numerous medical professionals, but the diagnosis came too late. Tragically, at 11 days old, Tommy passed away.