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Emley family to serve as ambassador family for March of Dimes WalkAmerica
MOD Walker Emley
Amanda and William Emley were like any other expectant parents, meaning they were anxious, nervous and excited all at the same time.
    And with twins on the way, they were busy preparing for the new arrivals to their family.
    But on July 19, 2005, when Amanda was only 27 weeks into her pregnancy, she gave birth to Emma Kate and Walker at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah. The twins were rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where the babies received the best possible care.
    "Their tiny little bodies were fighting as hard as they possibly could. It was seeing the twin's determination to beat the odds that would carry me through each day," said Amanda Emley.
    When Walker was born, he weighed only two pounds, five ounces. However, he did very well in the NICU and he was discharged from the hospital in only eight weeks with only an apnea monitor.
    Emma Kate, however, had a much more difficult road. She was only one pound, nine ounces when she was born and suffered multiple issues resulting to her premature birth.
    "I can safely say that if there was a complication prone to premature babies, Emma Kate had it," she said.
    Emma Kate endured approximately 20 surgeries and suffered from several rounds of severe pneumonia. Her enlarged liver and spleen helped doctors diagnosis her with severe portal hypertension, which led to severe bleeding episodes. The extensive bleeding would require multiple blood transfusions of both red blood cells and platelets.
    Though each of those, Emma Kate rebounded from the surgeries. But in March, 2006, she suffered another episode of severe bleeding, from which she would not recover.
    She would die on March 9, 2006 in her mother's arms.
    Making things even more difficult for Amanda Emley is the fact that she lost a parent and grandparent within a month of Emma Kate's death.
    "Honestly, it was by the grace of God that we got through it," she said. "He got us though that."
    Since that time, she has begun working with the March of Dimes and this year the Emley family is serving as the ambassador family for the WalkAmerica fund raiser.
    She said she wasn't involved with the March of Dimes until she was affected by premature birth, but since then has learned a lot about what the organization does.
    "I wish more people would participate in honor of their healthy child and for what the March of Dimes has done so far to help reach their goal of finding a cure to premature births," Emley said. "If you have a healthy child, it's because of the March of Dimes."
    Karen Stackhouse, community director for the March of Dimes, Southeast Region, said the Emley family's personal connection to premature babies has enabled them to speak passionately about the need to find a cure.
    "When Amanda speaks, people want to know what they can do to help," she said.
    Premature birth is the leading cause of death among newborns, endangering the lives of more than 500,000 babies and growing. The March of Dimes is currently in the middle of a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign to try to find a solution.
    This year's WalkAmerica is set for Saturday, March 31 beginning at 9 a.m. at Mill Creek Park. It was initially scheduled for the same weekend as the Relay for Life, but organizers moved it to avoid forcing residents to choose which charity to support.
    However, by moving the date closer, it has shortened the time to raise funds for the March of Dimes. But Emley said fund raising on the Internet has helped to combat the short timeframe. Donations can be made at
    The goal for the Walk is $35,000.
    "We just need people to get out there and knock on doors and get the big players in town involved," she said.
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