15-month-old’s persistence honored by March of DimesAvrie London is an adventurous child, the type who tends to get into everything. That’s a sharp contrast to big brother Grant, who didn’t seem to conduct nearly as much investigative work around the house when he was that age, mused their parents, Stephanie and Wade.
By: Jamie Gibson, The Daily Republic
Avrie London is an adventurous child, the type who tends to get into everything. That’s a sharp contrast to big brother Grant, who didn’t seem to conduct nearly as much investigative work around the house when he was that age, mused their parents, Stephanie and Wade.
But every child is different, including 15-month-old Avrie. Though she isn’t walking quite yet, her parents and pediatrician aren’t concerned — the curious little towhead is actually right where she should be developmentally, taking into account the fact that she was born almost three months early.
Avrie weighed just two pounds, 15 ounces at birth, which came by emergency C-section 11 weeks earlier than Stephanie’s due date.
As a result, the infant’s lungs weren’t fully developed, and Avrie spent 67 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). When her parents finally brought her home, Avrie was two months old, weighed seven pounds and had to spend an additional 10 weeks on oxygen.
Her perseverance, and her story, is being highlighted at the March of Dimes’ annual “March for Babies” walk Saturday at Dakota Wesleyan University.
The Londons, who live in Mitchell, have been selected as the “Ambassador Family” for the 3½-mile walk, which is organized around the concept that one day, all babies will be born healthy — but we need to walk to get there.
Though the family knew little about the March of Dimes when they agreed to be this year’s representative family, they didn’t hesitate to accept the honor.
“We knew we would do it so (Avrie) could get the recognition she deserved, because she worked hard to get big and get healthy,” Stephanie London said. “We’re just so proud of her.”
When she was 16 weeks pregnant, London began having complications that prevented enough nutrients from getting to the baby growing inside her. Doctors suspected Avrie would be premature.
Though London wasn’t due until March 2008, Christmas hadn’t even hit when she went into pre-term labor. Doctors managed to prolong the birth for another month, but when London’s water broke in late January, there was no going back. She delivered at 29 weeks; full term is 40.
Though Avrie still is a touch underweight, doctors say she’s close to where she needs to be developmentally. She’s put up a hard fight to survive.
“Ever since she was first born, the nurses said she’s just a pistol. She’s a fighter,” London said. “We were lucky. She actually had a scary beginning, but she’s really doing well. She’s pretty caught up.”
But Avrie’s story would have had a much different outcome if it hadn’t been for the March of Dimes.
The nonprofit group has a long history of funding research on newborn lung development — specifically, surfactant therapy, a detergent-like substance produced in the lungs that aids in breathing. That’s what Avrie received when she was born. The March of Dimes is also behind the creation of the NICU, where Avrie spent the first few months of her life.
Though Avrie is a happy, healthy child, the Londons are an ideal Ambassador Family because they experienced the March of Dimes’ mission, said spokeswoman Chellee Nemec.
The parents each recorded a public service announcement that’s been airing on local radio for the past several weeks, and they sat in on a live morning show last week to tell Avrie’s story and help publicize the March for Babies walk. The Londons will also speak at the event Saturday and organized their own family team to walk in support of Avrie and babies like her.
Mitchell’s goal is to raise $23,000 through walk sponsors and donations. Participants include family and company teams and individuals. Registration starts at 9 a.m. at the Dakota Wesleyan University recreation center, and the walk begins at 10 a.m.
For more information on the event or to sign up, visit www.marchforbabies.org. Registration forms are also available at Kmart in Mitchell.