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HSC HealthWalk raises record amount for March of Dimes (4-27-00)

Morgan Legate was born too early.

At only 24 weeks of gestation, Morgan entered the world at 1 pound, 11 ounces with a host of medical problems that often accompany a premature birth.

Within 10 days of her arrival, Morgan underwent heart surgery. She was given medicines to keep her premature lungs from collapsing and spent 94 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at University Hospital. There she was treated by Robert Castro, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC). Physicians gave the little girl a 50 percent chance of survival.

Today Morgan, who turned 2 years old on April 1, is a bundle of energy who runs and plays with her parents, Ray and Carole Legate. She is a healthy, happy toddler, thanks in large part to the top-notch care she received from Dr. Castro and the March of Dimes, an organization that has spent the better part of the 20th century funding pioneering research to fight birth defects.

Among the many advances in neonatal care that have been discovered as a result of March of Dimes funding, the development of surfactant is one of the most important to premature infants like Morgan. Surfactant is a substance often missing from the lungs of premature, extremely low birth weight infants. Without it, the tiny lungs collapse.

To show support for the work the March of Dimes continues to do for children, and to raise money for the organization to fund ongoing research, Health Science Center employees took to the campus track for the 17th Annual March of Dimes HealthWalk.

HealthWalk is the professional component to the March of Dimes WalkAmerica program. HealthWalk is unique to San Antonio, providing a way for health professionals to raise money to support valuable research.

This year more than 500 Health Science Center employees participated in the event and raised more than $22,000 for the March of Dimes. The organization uses the donations to conduct research and support neonatal intensive care units, among other endeavors.

"I want to thank the March of Dimes for all of the research and technology it has supported over the years, and for taking the time to care about premature babies," said Ray Legate. "It makes all the difference to people like us, and these donations save babies like Morgan."

Contact: Will Sansom or Heather Feldman