Couple feels group#039;s touch

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Jordan Nielsen came into the world a little sooner than expected.

When his mother Karla's water broke on Oct. 30, 32 weeks into her pregnancy, she and her husband Dan were frightened.

"I was really scared because I knew it was really early, and I didn't know what the repercussions of that would be," Karla said. "We were both just really scared."

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The doctors wanted Karla to deliver naturally, but when an internal monitor showed Jordan's heart rate drop, Karla had to have an emergency C-section.

"That was probably the scariest part, because we had all these doctors and nurses flying in," Dan said. "The next thing I knew, the doctor said, 'Do you want to see your boy?'"

Jordan was born that day two months premature, with underdeveloped lungs and at risk for numerous other complications that come with premature birth.

But thanks to research and technology in the field of prematurity, Jordan recovered and is now doing fine.

The Nielsens are this year's March of Dimes Ambassador Family. As ambassadors, they provide a real example for the theme of the April 12 WalkAmerica event -- prematurity.

The Nielsens said the March of Dimes has had a big impact on their family's life.

"We didn't realize we'd been touched until we looked into it, at what the March of Dimes does," Karla said.

They hope a success story like Jordan's will show people how beneficial past research has been while raising awareness of a problem many couples face.

"A person doesn't know it exists until, boom, it happens to you or to someone you know," Dan said.

One thing they pointed out as key to Jordan's recovery was a drug called Surfactant, which the March of Dimes has played an integral part in developing. This drug aids in the development of a premature baby's lungs. It was delivered to Jordan during the two days he spent on a ventilator.

"You could just see him struggling for every breath before," Dan said. "But once they used it, you could just see him (recover)."

The March of Dimes WalkAmerica will take place at 8:30 a.m. April 12 and start at the Holiday Inn. From there, walkers will go on either a six-mile or 2.5-mile loop back to the starting point. Donations from the walk will go toward helping babies in situations like Jordan's.

"Prematurity seems to be an issue on the rise," organizer and volunteer Peggy Young said. "What we're trying to do is raise money to develop technology and research."

Last year, the drive raised $31,000. This year's goal is $35,000. For information on WalkAmerica, contact Peggy Young at 437-4972.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at