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Newborn heart screening law goes into effect after mother’s persistent effort

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A law aimed at saving babies' lives went into effect on January 1, 2014 in Missouri. It was a Lee's Summit mother's persistence that led to Chloe's Law.

When Chloe Manz was born, her mom sensed something was wrong. Chloe's breathing seemed shallow.

"Really, no one listened to me at first," said Kelly Manz.

But Manz was persistent with nurses. Testing revealed Chloe had a critical heart defect. Her main arteries were reversed.

"I feel like if I gave up and we took Chloe home, it could have ended tragically," said the mother.

The Missouri Department of Health says more than 50 babies died in the state over the last five years because of undiagnosed heart defects. Now there's a better chance they'll be detected because Chloe's Law is in effect.

It mandates pulse oximetry screening for every Missouri newborn unless the parents sign a written statement to opt out because of religious beliefs. It's a painless screening that involves wrapping a sensor around the baby's hand or foot. Manz says it should add less than $10 to the cost of newborn screenings.

"And it will measure the amount of oxygen in the baby's blood. If there's a low reading, then the nurses and the doctors will take the next steps," said Manz.

Manz fought for four years to get the law passed because she wants other children with critical heart defects to survive and thrive as Chloe has. With medical treatments and surgeries, Chloe is an active five-year-old.

Kelly is hoping Kansas will join Missouri and more than 30 other states in mandating the screening.

"I know I've spoken with the American Heart Association over in Kansas and I've spoken with many families that have babies with heart defects that are ready to go champion a law out there," said Manz.

Just as one mom did in Missouri.

Manz is also an organizer of the first "Run for Little Hearts" to be held in May. Details can be found for that event by clicking on this link.

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