Heart Screening for Newborns in Georgia

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“My son Giorgi was born with a complex heart disease. He received three surgeries and they were all successful. I am thankful to everyone, they saved my baby’s life.”

Tamar, mother of two

For second-time mother Tamar, the benefits of RVF’s routine heart screening program are very clear: it caught her son Giorgi’s life-threatening heart defect while there was still time to treat it. Without early detection and prompt treatment, Giorgi may not have survived.

RVF has worked with local health authorities to introduce routine heart screening for newborns in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, as well as the cities of Batumi and Kutaisi. This safe, non-invasive screening uses pulse oximetery to detect potential critical congenital heart defects in newborns. Once screened, newborns can be receive urgent care with the existing local medical and surgical treatment capability as needed.

Since June 2014, over 76,500 infants have been screened and 41 with CCHDs and 166 with other heart defects have been identified. All babies with confirmed heart defects received immediate emergency treatment free of charge at the Jo Ann Cardiovascular Center in Tbilisi. All of the babies have survived.

The heart screening program, conducted in cooperation with the Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health & Social Development (MLHSD) and with the support of the US Department of State, has how been expanded to include the cities of Batumi and Kutaisi. The MLHSD is sustaining the program beginning in 2018.