Monday, April 29, 2002

6,500 walk on behalf of babies


March of Dimes fund-raiser one of several in region

By Cindy Kranz, ckranz@enquirer.com.
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gary and Susan Frazier walked in the March of Dimes WalkAmerica 2002 on Sunday, hoping they can help others prevent the shock they endured.

        When their 5-year-old son, Russell, was born at 24 weeks, he weighed 14 oz. and measured 10 1/2 inches — an inch shorter than a Barbie doll.

        The Wilmington couple received moral support from the Family Care Network, an organization of parents who have had children in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

        “Knowing somebody who had gone through it was a tremendous support to me,” said Mrs. Frazier, 35. “The week after I had him I was seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. It was nice to have encouragement that it will get better.”

        The Fraziers joined the Family Care Network a year after Russell was born.

        The couple, with Russell in tow, were at the starting line with the network on Sunday morning at Sawyer Point. It was their third WalkAmerica.

        A night of severe thunderstorms worried organizers, but skies cleared and 6,500 walkers stepped off for the six-mile walk to the sounds of Katrina and the Waves' Walking on Sunshine.

        An estimated $600,000 will be raised by five regional walks this month: Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Clermont County, Butler/Warren County, Northern Kentucky and Scioto County.

        Dubbed “the walk that saves babies,” money raised will be used for research on the causes of pre-term labor, educating pregnant women on signs of pre-term labor and helping health-care providers find better ways to identify women at risk.

        Mrs. Frazier had a major complication of severe preeclampsia, called HELPP syndrome, which triggered Russell's premature birth.

        Russell was on a respirator for almost two months at Good Samaritan Hospital.

        “It was just so overwhelming,” said Mr. Frazier, 47. “First, it was a matter of life and death. Then, it was a matter of wait and see. Then it was a long time waiting for him to gain weight.”

        Ninety-five days after Russell was born, he was discharged at 3 lbs., 10 oz.

        Russell, who has been diagnosed with mild autism, is in preschool at Town & Country MRDD in Clinton County.

        “He does well in preschool,” his father said. “He likes to jump on a trampoline. He loves to swim. He's a regular little boy.”

       



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