Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:18PM - 576 Views
Jason Alderman

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The March of Dimes proudly introduces Jonah Keston Ritchie of Knott County and Aeden Mathias Hughes of Perry County as the Ambassadors for the 2013 Kentucky River Region March of Dimes March for Babies which includes the counties of Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry, Breathitt, Wolfe, Lee and Owsley.

March of Dimes, the leading non-profit organization for maternal and infant health, will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life. About 4 million babies are born in the United States each year, and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

Jonah’s parents are Crystal and Justin Ritchie from Mousie, Ky., and Aeden’s parents are Jenna and Woodrow Hughes of Hazard. Both families understand firsthand what it can mean if a baby is not born healthy. Even though Jonah and Aeden had a rocky start, both are doing well today. Their parents know the significant role that the March of Dimes research played in helping him get this far, so they are grateful for the chance to serve as the 2013 Ambassadors for the Kentucky River Region.

Jonah was born on July 15, 2012 at 37 weeks. Crystal’s pregnancy was anything but normal. She suffered from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and symptoms of liver disease. Crystal developed toxemia two weeks prior to delivery and spent those weeks on bed rest. She was scheduled for a cesarean on July 16 and her water broke on the 15th. She later found out that her placenta had abrupted and it was necessary to get the baby out right away.

Baby Jonah was immediately placed on a ventilator because he wasn’t able to breathe on his own. Miraculously, Jonah starting breathing on his own; the doctors were amazed. For two days he was a happy, healthy baby but the doctors informed them that Jonah’s stomach was measuring larger than normal and they would keep an eye on it.

The doctors later found out that Baby Jonah’s ultrasound showed what they thought was a tumor. He was later transported to the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital and placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU). The pediatric surgeon informed them that they were not sure exactly what was wrong with Jonah but felt sure that it was something to do with his intestines and would not know much until they operated. The doctors later informed them that Jonah had a blood clot in his intestines that had caused a large part of his intestines to die.

They had to remove that part of his intestines and add two stomas; one for his colostomy bag and the other for irrigation. Baby Jonah faced many obstacles during his first few days of life and finally on Aug. 13, 27 days in Lexington, Crystal and Justin were able to bring Baby Jonah home to be with his brother and sister. He came home with a colostomy bag which was later removed surgically on October 5th. With the help of many answered prayers and the work of the March of Dimes, Baby Jonah is a normal, active baby with a clean bill of health. Crystal stated, “We are honored that Baby Jonah has been chosen as an ambassador for the 2013 March for Babies.

Aeden was born at 34 weeks on March 25, 2010. Jenna went into labor at 32 weeks and at that time she was sent to St. Joseph East in Lexington in an attempt to stop the contractions. She later found out that she had gestational diabetes and that she had been leaking amniotic fluid for some time.

Despite the efforts to stop labor, she delivered Baby Aeden at 34 weeks via emergency C-section. Although he weighed 6lbs 10 oz, his lungs were very premature. He was immediately placed on 100 percent oxygen, a feeding tube, a bilirubin mat, heart and blood pressure monitors, pulse ox machine and was placed under a heat lamp. After waking up from recovery, Jenna was told that there was a chance that Baby Aeden would not make it.

The next few days were crucial, he wasn’t able to keep food down or breathe on his own. He was placed in an oxygen box to help with some of the complications he was experiencing. Aeden reacted very badly to the move and would not stop screaming, which in turn made him go into distress. Due to his reaction to the box, the doctor ordered him to be removed and to be given to his Mommy. Jenna sat down with him for the first time. She was not able to hold her baby for 6 days after he was born. A few minutes later, in the arms of his mother, his oxygen level and heart rate started improving. This was the first time Jenna and Woodrow saw an improvement in his condition.

After approximately a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (“NICU”), Baby Aeden was able to go home. Jenna and Woodrow was warned about all the things could possibly go wrong and how he would be behind in growth and development for at least the first five years of his life. Since Aeden’s birth, he has faced multitude of obstacles including an inner ear deformation that has caused partial hearing loss, A.R.D.S., asthma, severe allergic reactions and multiple hospitalizations due to pneumonia/flu. Jenna and Woodrow are currently waiting to get Aeden into the Weisskopf Center to find out if he has a sensory development disorder.

Aeden is an extremely happy and hyper child who enjoys going to church and daycare. He loves transformers, star wars, spiderman and toy story. Jenna stated, “Our family is honored that Aeden has been chosen as an ambassador baby and will continue to bring awareness to premature birth as long as we are able.”

The Ritchie family and the Hughes family never related themselves to the March of Dimes until they experienced the birth of their premature sons. Both families encourage everyone to support the March of Dimes and challenge those that don’t to begin and help save babies who are not as fortunate as Baby Jonah and Baby Aeden. Without all of the volunteers support and donations to the March of Dimes there would not be research. The families hope that through this endeavor they can help further raise public awareness about the impact the March of Dimes has on the survival of premature infants.

The March of Dimes will be holding its annual kickoff celebration on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the New Hope Church Fellowship Hall at noon. Lunch will be provided. The kickoff is sponsored by Applebee’s, Wendy’s, Hampton Inn & Suites and Pepsi. All team captains are urged to attend. Come celebrate 75 years of success and be a part of the many milestones to come.

The annual March of Dimes March for Babies sponsored by Peoples Bank & Trust Company will be held on April 21st at the Hazard Daniel Field at 2:00. Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of volunteers will walk to give more babies the chance for a healthier start in life. The money you raise will help the March of Dimes continue to save babies lives. For more information, contact Shirlene Taylor (606)487-7229 or Lynn Smith at (606)487-7275 or Toll Free at 866-435-2161.

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