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March of Dimes ambassador family hopes to raise awareness of HELLP Syndrome

April 27, 2019 | 3:15 am

Updated April 28, 2019 | 7:53 am

Andrew, Brittany and Kensington Howard | Photo by Sheila Hopewell

The annual March of Dimes Walk for Babies will take place Saturday at Smothers’ Park, followed by a wealth of fun events designed for the whole family from 9 – 11 a.m. All events are open to the public, and the event will take place rain or shine.

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Brittany and Andrew Howard were expecting their first child and had no reason to think that Brittany wouldn’t carry to full term. Other than their daughter measuring smaller than average pre-term weight, for which they saw a high-risk pregnancy doctor, all other aspects of the pregnancy were going smoothly. But then Brittany became ill. Brittany’s husband, Andrew told Owensboro Times, “Her blood pressure went through the roof,” so the couple went to the hospital.

There, Brittany was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a serious ailment that affects a pregnant woman’s blood and liver. According to the March of Dimes website, this medical emergency causes hemolysis, a breakdown of the red blood cells (H), elevated liver enzymes (EL), and a low platelet (LP) count which can cause serious and uncontrolled bleeding.

HELLP can also cause hemorrhaging, kidney and liver failure, pulmonary edema (fluid build-up in the lungs), and placental abruption where the placenta separates from the wall of the mother’s uterus. Because of the serious nature of Brittany’s condition, she and Andrew were advised that they would need to go ahead and deliver their child in order to save both mother and baby’s lives.

Their daughter, Kensington Drew was born on Dec. 30, 2017, weighing just 3 pounds, 13 ounces. She spent 13 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Due to her precarious condition, Brittany was unable to see Kensington for the first 36 hours of her life.

The Howard family are this year’s March of Dimes ambassador family and will be speaking at the event tomorrow. Along with hearing their touching story, many other events are planned. Children can register their child for the Super Hero Sprint.

“This free event provides each child with a purple March of Dimes “cape” and wristband before the participants take a short dash,” said Brandi Keller, senior development manager at March of Dimes.

A “lei” ceremony will take place with purple leis representing those children born premature or with birth defects, and white leis will signify the loss of an infant. The opening ceremony will be followed by a Zumba class before Fairy Dust Entertainment’s superheroes and princesses arrive.

“We are all connected to March of Dimes, whether we have personally experienced a premature labor, a child with birth defects or the loss of an infant or we know someone who has been impacted by these things,” Keller said.

For the Howards, being the ambassador family means sharing their struggle and victory with other families who face such challenges.

“We were blessed with the outcome we had,” Andrew said. “Many families aren’t as fortunate.”
As representatives of the March of Dimes, the Howards hope to advocate for more awareness of and information about HELLP syndrome.

April 27, 2019 | 3:15 am

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