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Archive for Thursday, April 23, 2009

March planned for this weekend to raise awareness of premature births

Family supports March of Dimes walk

Campbell Elwell, 3, enjoys playing on her backyard swingset with her father, 6News meteorologist Matt Elwell, sister Paige, 1, and mother Cassandra Elwell on Wednesday outside their Lawrence home. After the couple lost their first daughter Grace to premature birth, Campbell was born 14 weeks premature, in photo at top, and spent 129 days in the hospital before coming home. The Elwells are taking part in the annual March for Babies fundraiser on Saturday.

Campbell Elwell, 3, enjoys playing on her backyard swingset with her father, 6News meteorologist Matt Elwell, sister Paige, 1, and mother Cassandra Elwell on Wednesday outside their Lawrence home. After the couple lost their first daughter Grace to premature birth, Campbell was born 14 weeks premature, in photo at top, and spent 129 days in the hospital before coming home. The Elwells are taking part in the annual March for Babies fundraiser on Saturday.

April 23, 2009

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Downtown march for charity slated for Saturday

6News meteorologist Matt Elwell and many others will march Saturday along Massachusetts Street to raise awareness about the March of Dimes. Enlarge video

Past Event
March for Babies

  • When: Saturday, April 25, 2009, 9:30 a.m.
  • Where: South Park, 12th and Massachusetts streets, Lawrence
  • More on this event....

Matt Elwell and his wife, Cassandra, will lead the march down Massachusetts Street on Saturday to raise awareness about an organization that is close to their hearts.

That organization is March of Dimes, a nonprofit group that works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

The Elwells, of Lawrence, know firsthand the importance of the nonprofit’s work.

After the couple lost their first daughter, Grace, to premature birth, their second daughter, Campbell, was born 14 weeks premature. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces and was 12 inches long.

“Matt’s wedding band fit over her hand and up her arm when she was born,” Cassandra said. “The scariest moments of my life were those sitting in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) not knowing if Campbell would survive.”

Campbell was a fighter, and after 129 days in the hospital, she went home. She weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces.

Artificial surfactant was key to her survival. It’s a natural soapy substance that was used to keep her lungs from collapsing. It was developed in the 1980s by Dr. T. Allen Merritt, who received a March of Dimes grant. Since the development, the number of babies who die from respiratory distress syndrome each year has gone from 10,000 to fewer than 1,000.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 3-year-old, sandy brown-haired girl was playing in the dirt, capturing a caterpillar and begging Mom to push her high in the swing. She was full of giggles and smiles.

Premature babies are at increased risk of health complications ranging from vision loss to cerebral palsy to learning problems. Campbell’s main struggle is with her lungs. She does breathing treatments, mostly through the winter and when she is sick.

“When she gets sick, she gets very sick very fast,” her mom said.

About a year ago, Campbell caught a virus that hospitalized her for 11 days. She continues to be closely monitored by doctors and has an appointment about once a month.

“The outlook for Campbell is great,” Cassandra said. “She has really done fantastic and definitely defied the odds as far as the outcome has gone.”

Campbell is a big sister to Paige, who just turned 1. Paige was born at full-term, weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

The Elwells said Saturday’s walk would be in memory of Grace, in honor of Campbell and in celebration of Paige.

“We invite all Lawrence families to join us and walk to help all babies be born healthy,” Matt said.

Comments

Multidisciplinary 4 years, 11 months ago

Sooo, you're saying LMH has a neonatal Intensive care unit and all the staff necessary to deal with the ongoing needs of preterm babies throughout their years until they reach age 18? Wow, that's incredible. Most every special needs child I know has to go to C.M.H, K.U.M.C. or St. Luke's to be taken care of other than simple things.

Heck, even car trauma gets life flighted away from LMH. I'm not putting LMH down, there is just too much that needs to be done for a small hospital like ours to do. And not enough experience here. These kids have to go where people have seen what they are going through, not here where their doctor may see one child just like them in their entire career.That last sentence is a quote from a doctor by the way.

I think you grossly underestimate the vast amount of extreme resources these children and families can require and all the fine dedicated professionals it takes to attempt to keep them alive and healthy, not to mention a married family. The divorce rate for premie baby families is profound compared to the norm.

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 12 months ago

Do doctors have any idea of what causes a premature birth, when there are no obvious stresses or reasons? I cannot imagine anything more scary than seeing your tiny baby looking so vulnerable. Thank God we have a good hospital with people to watch over these little ones. This also teaches us that at times we have to just hang in there day by day until it gets better.

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Jonathan Kealing 4 years, 12 months ago

Jersey_Girl--

All the event information is in the event detail, inlined under the video.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

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Jersey_Girl 4 years, 12 months ago

jonathon k - do you have the information for the walk?

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KSChick1 4 years, 12 months ago

Sad about your daughter. I am very happy to hear the other two are relatively healthy, even with the ongoing respiratory problems. Your family is beautiful and I wish you all the best in the future!

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Ray Parker 4 years, 12 months ago

Abortion is a major risk factor for a later premature birth. More that one abortion virtually guarantees that any later continued pregnancy will result in a premature birth or low birth weight. Stop the scarring of young girls and women in abortion mills, that can cause long-term medical problems or infant mortality in their later children. Abolition now.

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