Local News

April 6, 2014

Saving young lives

Twins thankful for those who will March for Babies

Colton Jones wasn’t getting better.

Having been born by an emergency Caesarean section several weeks before they reached full term, Colton and his twin brother Walker faced typical health concerns for premature babies. Neither had fully developed lungs and needed to be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Hamilton Medical Center.

“But Colton kept getting sicker and sicker,” said his mother Kelly Jones, a resident of Rocky Face. “He had all kinds of issues. He was losing weight fast. He was crashing. He had problems with his potassium levels. He had problems with his blood pressure.”

Doctors worked to find out what was causing Colton’s sickness. He was transferred to T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga to be seen by a neonatal team there and pediatric endocrinologist.

A screening, which was developed through March of Dimes research, discovered a rare genetic disorder called congenital adrenal hypoplasia. Colton’s adrenal glands, which regulate several hormones in the body, do not work.

“He probably would have died without that screening from the March of Dimes that caught something,” Jones said. “They did so much to help.”

Colton’s former pediatrician, Luis Viamonte, agrees.

“Imagine if we didn’t have that metabolic screening,” he said. “Colton probably wouldn’t be alive.”

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit agency that helps women have full-term pregnancies and researches health problems that affect babies. The organization can provide training, equipment and information to NICU teams and health care providers.

The Jones family serves as ambassadors for the organization to help raise awareness and funds for the March of Dimes. They were chosen by Viamonte, who is now retired from Pediatrics of Dalton and is serving as chairman of the March of Dimes leadership team in Whitfield County.

This year’s Northwest Five-Star March for Babies fundraiser will be on Saturday, April 26, at Dalton State College. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the walk begins at 9 a.m.

Colton and Walker are 6 years old now. They are in kindergarten at Westside Elementary School. They say they plan to race each other during the march. They are helping their parents raise funds as they talk to others about the importance of helping the March of Dimes.

The organization provides training for professionals on how to transport NICU patients between hospitals as Colton had to be transported.

Viamonte says Hamilton Medical Center has a neonatal transport team, which goes to other hospitals to bring infants needing advanced care to the NICU at the Dalton hospital.

“We have needs in our community,” Viamonte said. “Our NICU can take babies born at 28 weeks. We have a NICU that needs the support of the March of Dimes.”

Colton’s stay in the NICU lasted 46 days. Walker’s was just a little over a week.

Colton understands the disorder he lives with and says it isn’t always fun to take several medications a day. But it’s not scary to him.

“If I don’t have my pills, I would die,” he said.

He plays recreation league football and baseball. Jones and her husband Patrick have to keep a close eye on Colton because dehydration occurs very easily with his disorder.

“We let him live a normal life,” she said. “We tell them they’re in God’s hands. He puts doctors here to help.”

The twins started chanting “G-O-D” and cheering.

“We’ll do whatever we can to save more children,” Jones said.

This year’s march is sponsored by Hamilton Health, Regional Neonatal Specialists, Dalton Utilities, Peds Care, Pediatrics of Dalton, Textile Rubber, White’s Pediatrics, Ashton Staffing, In Memory of Dr. Roy Farrow, Brights Pediatrics, Prime Pediatrics and Rock Bridge Community Church.

This year’s leadership team includes Matt and Beth Evans, John and Tammy Rockholt and the Jones family, and from Hamilton Medical Center, Brenda Guinn, Melinda Edgeman, Lisa Leamon, Terri Woodruff, Dyonna Nichols, Miriam Starr, Elona Bender, Dr. Liz Kennedy and Dr. Vic Thomas.

“We would like to thank all of our volunteers, sponsors and team members as well as Outback Steakhouse for their help,” Viamonte said in a news release.

“Join us and help with fundraising,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful organization.”

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