Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fundraiser will benefit study of premature birth

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Mommy goes to the hospital, has her baby and takes him home.
That's generally how it goes unless the baby's born premature.
If that's the case, Mommy's a powerless person sitting on the sidelines as a team of doctors prepares her child for life in an incubator.
That's how it was for Ashley Jones of Robinson, the keynote speaker for the Oct. 23 March of Dimes fundraiser. Her son Braxton weighed 15.2 ounces when he was born.
'He had to stay in the incubator for 3 months,' Mrs. Jones said. 'We took him home Dec. 15, his due date.'
In the first months of her son's life, Mrs. Jones and her husband Luke waited and watched.
'You live hour by hour,' Mrs. Jones said. 'One minute he's doing wonderful, but the next he's taken a step back.'
While he was in the incubator, Braxton couldn't breathe on his own.
'He was on a ventilator, and then he was breathing with treatments like they give for people with sleep apnea,' Mrs. Jones said. 'But then there was a step back, and he was on the ventilator again.'
Those long months proved productive. A bright-eyed, healthy Braxton turned 1 on Sept. 11 - without any sign of having been born premature.
'We were really lucky,' Mrs. Jones said. 'He didn't have any of the heart problems or brain bleeds that are associated with being born premature. Just one eye surgery to fix his sight.'



The Jones family is this year's March of Dimes Ambassador Family.
They travel from place to place promoting the awareness of premature birth and educating the public about March of Dimes - the nonprofit group that raises money for the research of what causes premature birth.
They'll be in Temple Oct. 23 at the Signature Chefs event.
'Every baby deserves its 9 months,' Mrs. Jones said. 'If talking about our experience can help, then I'm glad to do it.'
Dr. Cheryl Cipriani, director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Scott & White Hospital, also plans to speak at the event.
'The only way we can prevent premature birth is to find the causes behind it,' Dr. Cipriani said.
When compared to babies born at full term, premature babies often suffer from cerebral palsy, chronic lung problems, developmental disorders and physical disabilities. So the cost of medical care for the .5 million babies born premature every year can add up. At the last tally, it was $26 billion.
'We don't know the why behind the health problems,' Dr. Cipriani said. 'We don't know the cause of premature birth. We are all concerned about these babies, and now we need to put our money where are concern is.'
Kor Seale, coordinator of the Signature Chefs event, agreed.
'The need for research is great,' Ms. Seale said. 'The goal is to raise $50,000. Last time (in Dec. 2006), we raised $35,000.'
'It would be wonderful if there was no need for doctors like me,' Dr. Cipriani said. 'There would be no sadness in me going out of business.'
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Talking won't be the only thing going on at the Oct. 23 March of Dimes fundraiser. There'll be a lot of eating too.
Top chefs from Temple will prepare their best, most popular dishes for the evening's dinner.
'This is truly a unique, local event,' Ms. Seale said.
Chefs planning to participate are Renae Mitchell, executive chef at the Hilton Garden Inn; Mark DeLeon, chef at BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse; and Rick Walker from World Art Foods Catering.
The menu will feature bourbeon marinated bacon-wrapped shrimp, a steamship round and chocolate fountain by Ms. Mitchell; grilled chicken pasta and chicken pot stickers by DeLeon. The chefs are eager to participate.
'Anything I can do to help, I'm glad to do it,' DeLeon said.
'It's a good cause to help children,' Ms. Mitchell said. 'And I'm all about the children.'
The Signature Chefs event will also feature a live auction for items like one-of-a-kind art pieces, trips to the spa, private dining experiences with top area chefs, and dinner and overnight stays at hotels and bed & breakfasts.
Sponsorships are available at various levels from $500 to $1,000. Those interested should call Ms. Seale at 254-220-7564 or kseale@marchofdimes.com.

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