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March of Dimes walk continues crusade to help babies

PLATTSBURGH Melanie Faville is walking for a cause. The mother of two will be among more than 300 people expected to participate in this years March for Babies, an annual walk being held next Sunday to support the March of Dimes. The organization, whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, means a lot to Faville. Her oldest son, Andrew, was born premature nearly five years ago, and has since been plagued with a host of medical conditions ranging from a form of cerebral palsy to a sensory processing disorder. In May 2003, Andrew was delivered via emergency C-section at CVPH Medical Center. As he was born early at 29 weeks barely into the third trimester of pregnancy specialists from the neonatal intensive care unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., came to CVPH to care for Andrew after his delivery. While Faville and her husband, Sean, were told Andrews chance of survival was favorable, they were made aware of the fact some babies born that premature dont survive, she said. We were given the statistics and told to expect the worst, Faville said. However, Andrews birth weight of 3 pounds, 5 ounces though roughly half the weight of a baby born in a full-term pregnancy was to his advantage. The Favilles learned most preemies born at that age usually weigh about 2 pounds. If a premature baby falls under 1 pound after birth, the risks are higher for complications. Though the Favilles had the pleasure of hearing Andrews first cry immediately after he was born, the moment was brief as he was intubated to help his undeveloped lungs be able to breathe. He had wires and tubes going in every part of his body including his belly button, recalled Faville. We were told that they did not want him to breathe or move because every movement or breath would tire him making him higher risk of not being able to survive. Faville only had a few moments with her son before they transported him to Fletcher Allen. It was in those moments she was allowed to place her hand in his incubator for the only contact she would have with him for the next few days. Faville initially had to stay behind at CVPH for observation following her C-section. When she was finally able to visit her son in Burlington, nothing could prepare her for how helpless Andrew looked connected to his life-saving machines, she said. It is extremely difficult to enter [the NICU], especially the first time, said Faville. Seeing your child lay there and theres nothing you can do to change it. Nothing you did to cause it. Nothing you can do to prevent it. Thats what turned me to the March of Dimes. Since that time, the Favilles have become actively involved in the March of Dimes, and were even honored as the ambassador family for last years walk. The family not only participates in the annual walks, but actively encourages others to participate as well. Their enthusiasm has spread, seeing their own team, Andrews All Stars, grow from five participants to 50, and help stimulate the formation of other teams. Supporting the March of Dimes not only provides funding for research on preventing premature birth but they also help fund research to find cures for diseases, said Faville. With premature births on the rise, something has to be done about it. Everyone deserves a chance at a healthy life and the March of Dimes is the only one I know of that is trying to make that happen and one day it will happen, but we have to walk before we get there, Faville added. More information... The March for Babies will be held Sunday, April 27 at 10 a.m. at the PARC Oval, followed by a picnic lunch, childrens activities and live entertainment. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Those interested in walking may register on-line at www.marchforbabies.org by signing up as an individual walker, starting a new team or by joining another team.Registration may also be taken over the phone at 1-800-698-9255 or by contacting local walk coordinator Sue Smith at 578-5894. Those not wishing to walk may still make a contribution on-line through the organizations Web site using a credit card or utilizing Paypal, an on-line payment service.

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