March for Babies ambassador loves to wave

Published 7:29 am Friday, February 19, 2010

Nathan Edward Dorsey is one happy, beautiful, beloved baby boy.

The 14-month-old, with a head full of dark curls, loves to dance, wave hello and good-bye and flash his friendly smile.

Those skills should come in handy as Nathan and his family are the 2010 ambassadors of the Austin/Albert Lea March for Babies, which kicks off today.

The march itself takes place April 17 and is a fundraiser for the March of Dimes, an organization that works to give babies a fighting chance against threats to their health such as premature birth, birth defects and low birth weight.

Nathan and his family— mother Michelle, father Christopher, 13-year-old brother Devon and 8-year-old sister Alia — are familiar with the cause.

Nathan was born prematurely at 29 weeks on Dec. 12, 2008, weighing 2 pounds and 7 ounces.

“It’s hard not being able to hold your child,” Michelle said of those first days after the birth.

Today, she can pick Nathan up, put him on her lap, or play with him on the couch. Nathan weighs about 15 pounds, a size similar to that of a 6-month-old.

Nathan visits the Mayo Clinic monthly and has had three heart surgeries and three abdominal surgeries as a result of being born without the left half of his heart — a rare condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

He is now faring a bit better than originally expected, and hopefully will not need surgery again until he is about 3-years-old, Michelle said.

When he is a young adult, he may need a heart transplant.

“He has scars everywhere under his shirt,” Michelle said.

“But, he really is a happy boy,” she continued, while he smiled, bouncing on mommy’s knee.

Michelle spends nearly every minute of the day with that little bundle of joy who requires constant care.

Michelle left her job at the Sacred Heart Care Center when Nathan was born to become a stay-at-home-mom, by necessity.

“It has been a big change, but I am glad I am able to do it,” she said.

She gives Nathan medicine three times a day and monitors his blood pressure and blood oxygen levels daily.

Nathan, who is for the most part tube fed, is even observed while he sleeps by home health nurses.

And, his parents cannot just hire the average teenage baby-sitter when they’d like a night out, as Nathan needs to be watched by someone CPR-certified who is familiar with his needs.

He does receive weekly visits by nurses on Thursday mornings, when Michelle can then take a break to run errands.

Those who attend the March for Babies, probably won’t see the handsome Ambassador Nathan.

His family will be there — and big sister Alia and big brother Devon can gladly tell passersby all about him — but Nathan may have to stay at home.

Family outings with the baby are rare as they need to take extra care to ensure he is not exposed to elements that could make him sick.

This Christmas, he could not go to visit his extended family, but of course his parents came home with lots of gifts.

This week, Michelle was able to enjoy a couple of hours out of the house with Nathan when they made an exception to attend mass on Ash Wednesday.

“He had fun and was waving at everybody,” Michelle said. “He even smiled and waived at the priest.”

March for Babies teams signed up this morning to support families and babies like Nathan, but it’s not too late for others to get involved. People can sign up to participate up until the day of the event online at www.marchofdimes.com or by calling (507) 282-0649.

Funds raised support March of Dimes research and programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies in Southeast Minnesota.

There are prizes for participants as well, including tickets to the Aug. 1 Twins game against the Seattle Mariners in the new Target Field.

To help the Dorsey’s with ongoing medical expenses, inquire about their benefit fund at Home Federal Savings Bank, 201 W. Oakland Ave., or by calling the bank at 433-2355.

March for Babies

When: April 17, 9 a.m.

Register: 8 a.m. at Torge’s Live, 1701 4th St. NW

Benefits: March of Dimes research and programs to help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies in Southeast Minnesota.