Family credits March of Dimes with saving their babies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Melissa Stokes had been involved with the March of Dimes for a few years prior to the birth of her twins.

She participated and donated to the organization, although she never fully grasped what they do.

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“I didn’t ever expect it to become a personal issue,” she said.

That all changed with the birth of her twins, Amber and Raegen. Melissa and her husband Troy’s daughters were born three months premature.

The family took the children to UAB hospital in Birmingham. She recalled the doctors and nurses telling her that babies respond to touch and love.

While there, Melissa stayed in the Ronald McDonald house to be near them and did her best to shower them with the tender loving care they would need to get them through.

The babies were desperately fighting for their lives. At birth, they were thinner than an index card, Melissa said.

At one point, Raegan’s lungs collapsed and she had to be put on an oscillator.

Amber also had difficulty breathing and had to have help from a ventilator. At birth, Raegan weighed 2.4 pounds and Amber was a mere 1.4 pounds. Raegan spent 16 weeks and Amber stayed 17 weeks at the hospital.

The work of the March of Dimes, through its research, technology development and prenatal care training for doctors and nurses over the years is the reason the hospital and staff had the resources to save her babies, Melissa said.

Her children are living proof of how the organization helps children hang on to life and dodge the debilitating bullet of birth defects, she said.

The twins are now happy and healthy two-year-olds, who are our local ambassadors for the March of Dimes.

The harrowing experience of a premature birth had a lasting impact on Melissa Stokes and made supporting the March of Dimes a personal priority.

“Having a personal experience with it (premature birth) really put what the March of Dimes does in a whole new perspective for me. I will always be involved with the March of Dimes,” she said.