The Power of Pulse Ox – Saving Kinley


February is Heart Awareness month.

Mention heart disease or heart surgery and one may automatically assume that it is an older person, perhaps one who has lived a life full of rich indulgences resulting in heart disease. But the truth is that many heart diseases and defects are present at birth. Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect type. Stacy Lipinczyk shares the story of her daughter Kinley.

“I was 41 weeks pregnant, my husband and I were anxiously waiting to meet our first child. We were so excited to find out if we were going to be welcoming a daughter or son, we decided to let that be a surprise and I was fortunate to have a wonderful pregnancy and delivery. Then on the afternoon of November 23, 2014 at Tucson Medical Center when we were blessed to meet our daughter, Kinley Marie Lipinczyk! She seemed to be a healthy and normal baby weighing 6lbs 6oz.

Two days later on the evening of November 25th, we were getting ready to take Kinley home. Our hospital room was packed up, the car seat was ready, and we were waiting on the final steps to be discharged when the nurses came in to do the Pulse Ox Screening test.

The first machine had conflicting results, it would jump from the 90’s to 70’s. They brought in two more Pulse Ox monitors, and the results were not changing. My husband and I thought “this can’t be right…Kinley looks great!”

The nurses advised us that they wanted us to stay an additional night, and they would order an echo in the morning just to be sure everything was ok. We unpacked our room and didn’t sleep much that night.

The morning rolled around and the echo tech walked in the room. She proceeded to do the echocardiogram and in the middle of the test, she walked out of the room.

Kinley began to lose her pink color and started to turn more grayish in color. The doctor and echo tech walked in, told my husband and I to sit down on the couch, and said the following words, “Your daughter has a heart condition, and it’s very serious.”

My heart started to race, and in silence, my husband and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes and followed as we all rushed down the halls of the hospital into the NICU.

The team of heroes (our TMC doctors and nurses) were surrounding her bassinet trying to get an IV lines started to administer a drug, Prostaglandin, which ultimately kept her alive.

Kinley was diagnosed with an Interrupted Aortic Arch, VSD, and bicuspid valve.

Once the team of doctors and nurses were able to stabilize her after a few hours, she was life-lighted by helicopter to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The life-light nurse and respiratory therapist hugged and comforted me as I was sobbing and begging to please go in the helicopter with them. How was I going to give my brand new baby girl over to someone who I had never met? But there was not enough room in the helicopter as it is virtually a miniature hospital.

It was the longest two-hour drive to Phoenix Children’s Hospital as we prayed that the transport team would take care of our daughter.

The life-light nurse called me as soon as they had landed and advised me that the flight was successful and they were going to ensure that she was stabilized upon arrival at PCH. My husband and I finally arrived minutes after Kinley was assigned to her hospital room.

There were a few speed bumps along the way, but Kinley had her life saving open-heart surgery on December 3rd, when she was just 10 days old. She also had to have a heart catheterization to balloon her aortic arch a few months post-surgery.

At 14 months Kinley is now thriving.

Without the simple test of the pulse oximetry screening, Kinley would not be with us here today. It is so important to educate families on the importance of choosing a center that performs the best in class newborn screening tests on babies to include the Pulse Ox test on both extremities (hand & foot). I never would have imagined that my child would be born with a congenital heart defect. You never think that your child will be the 1 in 100 diagnosed with a CHD.”

Stacy Lipinczyk and Melissa Nail recently formed a non-profit organization called CHD (Congenital Heart Defects) Families of Tucson. They work to empower parents of CHD children by creating paths to accessible resources. They want our community to know what their options are when their child has a serious heart defect.


Although they are committed to serving families regardless of where they receive treatment, CHD Families of Tucson has an intentional, intersectional relationship with Tucson Medical Center. The partnership TMC for Children has with Phoenix Children’s Hospital allows for a seamless transition between our routine home cardiology visits and the emergencies that are best handled by the only Cardiovascular ICU in the state of Arizona. Both Kinley and Killian would not be here today without that level of care.