A Christmas miracle and the perfect ambassador for the March of Dimes
By all accounts, Brionna Anderson is a typical, vivacious 7-year-old girl. A second-grader at Red Cedar Elementary, Brionna impresses classmates and adults alike with her talent for sports and her incredibly detailed drawings, fights of fancy that only youthful imagination and energy can create. Her bright personality and energetic zest for life are all the more amazing when one hears her story.
Brionna was born on Christmas Day in 2001, coming into this world 29 weeks ahead of schedule. Right away, she had health problems.Her respiratory system wasn’t functioning normally, so she was quickly sent to the Medical University of South Carolina. There, she was given Survanta, which helps keep the air sac open and lungs from collapsing. The treatment was developed with funding from the March of Dimes.
In an e-mail, Brionna’s grandmother Dee wrote, “Even though Brionna was put on oxygen, she was doing extremely well for a baby born so early. Her Apgar score was 8 of 9. This test is used to determine how well a baby is doing at birth. Brionna stayed in the NICU until her vitals were under control, and she was able to eat and was rid of jaundice.”
Soon after that she was given the all-clear signal to leave the NICU and was on her way home. This temporary parting of the clouds was quickly closed when Brionna sustained a secondary infection. Brionna contracted RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and was moved back to the NICU.
“That was by far the toughest time for our family. We thought that surviving at 2 pounds, 10 ounces was hard enough; we could not fathom how this little angel could endure much more. Even though the prognosis was uncertain, we held onto the hope of a miracle and knowing that we were in the best place for treatment,” Dee wrote. “We were right at every level. Brionna came home on Feb. 3, 2002.”
Dee, a 17-year volunteer for the March of Dimes, was able to see the great work done by this organization frsthand as treatments and medicines developed by March of Dime funding were used to nurse her granddaugh ter back to health.
Today you’d never know that Brionna ever faced such battles.
“Brionna loves to play outside sports with her uncle, DesJuan. She also participates in community softball (Blufton Youth Sports and basketball (Lowcountry Youth Sports leagues and enjoys swimming. Her creative side is also seen in the details and imagination of her drawings. If a picture is really worth a thousand words, hers often tell quite a funny story!” wrote Dee. “With a little push, she i: learning to play the piano (Palmetto Music Therapy) and sings in the church choir (Second Euhaw Missionary Baptist Church).”
During a chance conversation with March of Dimes community director Brandi Andrews, Dee realized another great outlet for this amazing young girl’s personality.
The March of Dimes, it turned out, was looking for an ambassador for its March for Babies. The ideal candidate would have been born prematurely, received help from March of Dimes research and exhibit a truly outgoing personality. Brionna was a perfect ft.
In an e-mail, Andrews explained, “We have an Ambassador Family for each of our communities… She was born prematurely and because of the research that the March of Dimes funded, she is here today. And not only is she here with us, she is an active, smart, healthy, normal 7-year-old little girl.”
As official ambassador, Brionna will hold a position of honor at the March for Babies walk on Oct. 10 at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront.
“Our goal for the walk this year is $50,000,” said Andrews.
March for Babies
When/where: Saturday, Oct. 10, Holiday Inn Oceanfront
The scoop: Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. with a 1.5-mile walk on the beach starting at 9 a.m. Prior to the walk there will be a beachside continental breakfast, including danishes, muffins, coffee, tea and juice.
For more information: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who can’t make the walk but would still like to contribute, visit www.marchforbabies.org and enter ZIP code.