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Story of survival
Elliott faced health issues at birth
March of Dimes2
Elliott Witt Curtis, 1, has been chosen as the 2014 March of Dimes ambassador. He was born Aug. 30, 2013, approximately eight weeks premature, due to complications caused by preeclampsia. He is the son of Trent and Tessa Curtis. - photo by Photo provided

The annual March of Dimes walk is scheduled for Oct. 18 in downtown McMinnville. Elliott Witt Curtis has been named this year’s ambassador.
Elliott was born Aug. 30, 2013 at 32 weeks by emergency C-section due to complications caused by preeclampsia. He weighed 4.5 pounds, was 17.75 inches in length and is the son of Trent and Tessa Curtis.
“After delivery, I saw him for just a very quick moment until he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit,” said Tessa. “Due to the preeclampsia and recovery required, I was not able to visit him in the NICU until 24 hours after delivery. Trent was able to visit Elliott and took pictures with his phone so I could see him. One of my nurses also printed off one of them so I could have it in my room. It was very sweet, but it was not the same. I needed my baby and he needed me.”
The situation was one the couple had hoped to avoid since Valentine’s Day 2013 when they learned they were expecting another child.
“My husband and I were both excited, but we were also very worried," said Tessa. "During my first pregnancy with our daughter Ella, who is now 4, I developed preeclampsia in my third trimester."
The cause of preeclampsia is unknown and the only cure is delivery. After the first pregnancy’s complications, the couple had regular appointments with doctors.
“I eventually lost count of how many appointments we had, how many doctors we saw, and how many nights were spent in the hospital for observation. The complications from preeclampsia were difficult enough, but then the doctors discovered our son’s left kidney was small, abnormal and no longer functioning. The news was hard to hear."
Elliott was born at Park Ridge East Hospital in Chattanooga. After 24 hours, Tessa finally got to see her son.
“The day before I tried preparing myself because I knew it would be hard seeing him in NICU,” said Tessa. “I learned that as a parent, you can’t truly prepare yourself to see one of your children in that condition. The next three days, we were there for every moment no matter how small.”
Most mothers leave the hospital with their newborns. Tessa says her discharge day came and she was torn between staying with her son and going home to her daughter two hours away.
“I sat in the delivery waiting room sobbing, but I didn’t care,” said Tessa. “I sobbed because I missed our daughter, but yet I didn’t want to leave our son. I was torn between my children. It is a situation and feeling I hope to never experience again.”
Thanks to the generosity of The Ronald McDonald House and the help of a caseworker, the couple was able to continue being there for Elliot.
Elliot experienced the many common complications associated with prematurity, including respiratory distress syndrome, apnea, bradycardia, jaundice and infections. He was not released from the hospital until Sept. 25.
“There were many obstacles but none too difficult for him to overcome,” said Tessa. “We also learned, after further testing, both of his kidneys are fully functioning. He truly is such a big miracle in such a little boy. We are so very grateful for the excellent care Elliott received from all of his NICU nurses and his doctors. Thanks to them on Sept. 25, 2013, we were able to take him home. Words can’t quite express the feelings that were felt that day.”
Today, Elliott is happy and very healthy.
Walk organizers are looking for volunteers, community groups, school groups, etc., to have activities for the kids, such as face painters, games, balloon animals, bounce house, and a firetruck for the kids to see. All proceeds raised during the event goes to the March of Dimes.
“We were also thinking of a bake sale and a miscellaneous raffle so any type donations would be appreciated,” said Katie Tucker, community director for March of Dimes. “With it being close to Halloween, we would like to have a costume contest. We would love for downtown businesses to participate.”
The March of Dimes walk is Oct. 18. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The one-mile walk starting at the fountain begins at 10 a.m. Teams can register at www.marchforbabies.org. Festivities are offered from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
“We would love to have any families in Warren County who have had preemies to join us in this year’s celebration,” said Tucker.
For more information, contact Tucker at 1-615-800-7185.