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Premature baby a blessing for March of Dimes ambassadors

What does it take for an 11-month-old baby to be the center ofattention at two annual events for one of the biggest charities inthe country?

For East Lincoln toddler Dayne Newman, all it took was an earlystart on life.

After completing only two-thirds of his stay in the womb andentering the world 12 weeks premature, Newman defied doctors’predictions, piled on baby fat and is living a normal babylife.

Little Newman’s prosperity in the face of bad odds – and hisrequirement for the modern medical treatments that pulled himthrough – has made him and his family an almost perfect successstory for the March of Dimes, which has chosen the Newmans as itsambassador family for the second time this year.

They will represent the Brookhaven area Saturday at theorganization’s fundraising walk, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at theExchange Club Park. Because Dayne’s father – Rusty Newman – coachesat South Pike, his family served as ambassadors at the McComb walka month ago.

March of Dimes Community Director Melanie Nixon said theNewmans’ story is a great example of why her organization hasraised approximately $12.5 million for research into newborn lungdevelopment – surfactant therapy.

“A lot of our research helps these babies get out of the NICU(Newborn Intensive Care Unit),” she said. “Our funds go tocontinuing research, and to help educate women in Mississippi,where we have the highest rate of premature birth [in thenation].”

Nixon said the Newmans would meet the public at the walk andshare their story, a story that she hopes will spur the city’scharitable souls into helping March of Dimes meet its $20,000fundraising goal this year.

That story began last Christmas, when Sarah Newman discoveredthat two trimesters was all her baby was going to get.

On Dec. 12, 2007, she went to the doctor with aches and painsand was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a pregnancy-inducedhypertension. Newman said her blood pressure was 220 over 170, nearstroke level.

It went at whirlwind speed from there – on Dec. 13, she was sentto University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Wiser Hospital forWomen and Infants and a C-section delivery was performed on Dec.15. It was discovered that Dayne was suffering from sporadic bloodflow, and immediate delivery was the only option to save hislife.

The expecting mother remained calm through the frantic time.

“I said, ‘Wow, I’m having a baby tonight,'” Newman said. “Ireally had a peace about it. I was praying the whole time, ofcourse – for Dayne to be well, but mostly for God’s will to bedone. [God] knew to give me peace about it, because if I didn’t, myblood pressure would have gone up even more.”

Dayne weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces at birth and was whisked awayto the NICU at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. Newman saiddoctors told her he would spend more than two months in the unit,but he spent only one.

Dayne was expected to have breathing difficulty, but he neverhad to go on a ventilator. He spent only 10 days in an oxygencannula. He was expected to have a slow recovery, but he gained theweight necessary to leave the NICU – 4 pounds – in a month.

Now, Dayne is a healthy 20 pounds. He suffers from a fewailments that his still-developing immune system has troublebattling. He takes medication for supraventricular tachycardia anda breathing treatment, and has problems with acid reflux andallergies.

But Dayne is no bed-bound baby. Newman said he is not expectedto have any long-term effects from his premature birth.

“We were headed for the worst but ended up with the best,”Newman said. “Dayne is a miracle baby all around – because he hasdone so well and because I was told I wouldn’t be able to have ababy at all without fertility treatments. God has blessed usimmensely with Dayne.”

Aside from his few medical conditions, Dayne is doing all thethings babies do, said Rusty Newman.

“He’s doing great – he’s all over the house,” he said. “He’scrawling around, trying to learn to walk … he’s a mess. He’sdoing a lot better than we expected at this point. It’s beenamazing just to see him grown and get bigger every day.”

Rusty Newman, though a coach of several sports at South Pike andparticipant in church leagues, has only one wish for his son.

“I just want him to grow up and be successful in whatever hechooses to do as long as it’s according to God’s plan,” he said. “Iwant him to grow up in church, knowing God.”