Babies born prematurely face uphill battle - FOX 13 News

Babies born prematurely face uphill battle

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Melonie Harris knows all about medical miracles. Five years ago, she survived a risky kidney transplant.

"When Philip and I decided that we wanted to have a child, I knew I was gonna be high risk," she said.

"I just wanted a healthy son and the end of the day," Philip added.

Eight weeks before their baby was due, the couple was once again hoping for a medical miracle inside a hospital room.

"I was told that my embyotic fluid had decreased tremendously, so at that point in time, they had to have an emergency c-section," Melonie said.

Elijah was born weighing 2 lbs, 14 oz. and was very premature.

Elijah spent a long and trying six weeks at All Children's Hospital as his parents wondered what the future would hold.

"If he would survive, if he would live, if he would be healthy, what struggles he would face or battles he would have early on in life was my greatest concern," Melonie explained.

Seeing their baby boy suffering was heartbreaking.

"He had a feeding tube and was developmentally delayed. It took him longer to lift his head up, it took him longer to crawl, took him longer to roll over. He was almost twenty months old before he first walked."

Now, at almost three years old, Elijah is a healthy, happy little boy.

Philip smiled and said, "He's doing phenomenal. He's very sociable, he reads a lot, he talks a lot, he likes to play, loves playing basketball."

Everything from his happy dance to his handsome smile is a reminder of what a blessing he is.

"The type of resources, medical attention he was getting at All Children's Hospital, believe it or not, was an evolution of the research that March of Dimes has provided."

Melonie and Philip have spent their lives serving March of Dimes through charity events, never realizing that one day, they would need the crucial research and services this organization provides to families of premature babies.

"March of Dimes was very involved in the overall development of our child," Philip said.

"He's walking, talking, doing well in school, looking at him today, it would be hard to believe he was a premature child," Melonie said.

Seeing a normal healthy boy is nothing short extraordinary for the Harris family. Their medical miracle is one of many made possible by the March of Dimes.

"To make sure that every child has a fair chance. It means a lot to our family," Melonie said.

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