Premature triplets hope to motivate fundraising
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Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

Premature triplets hope to motivate fundraising

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/24/14/56/YOdoF.Em.138.jpeg|205
    - COURTESY OF RACHEL HELTON
    The Kahns has been named the Ambassador Family for the Charlotte Signature Chefs Auction, 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes Nov. 7. Zachary, Cooper, and Charlie were born at 24 weeks and less than 1.5 pounds each. They are now thriving 6 year olds. “The truth is that Zach, Cooper and Charlie might not be here today without the medical advances that March of Dimes helped fund,” said father, Brian Kahn.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/24/14/56/Y3JE2.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - KELLY PATTERSON PHOTOGRAPHY
    From left, Zachary, Charlie and Cooper Kahn were born less than 1.5 pounds each and are now thriving 6 year olds. Their boys have been named ambassadors for the Charlotte Signature Chefs Auction, 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes Nov. 7.
  • Want to go? The Charlotte Signature Chefs Auction to benefit the March of Dimes will be held Nov. 7 at Carmel Country Club. The event will include food from 15 of the area’s top chefs. There will also be an open bar, entertainment, and silent and live auctions. Contact, Jessica Crumpton, Greater Piedmont Division Director at jcrumpton@marchofdimes.com or 980-939-6020. www.marchofdimes.com/northcarolina.

The March of Dimes chose Foxcroft residents Brian, Raizel, Zachary, Cooper, and Charlie Kahn, to be the Signature Chefs Auction Ambassador Family for the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes.

“The Kahn family was chosen because of their wonderful story of survival for their triplet boys born at Presbyterian Hospital’s (now Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center) NICU,” said Howard Goldstein, community director of the Greater Piedmont Division, North Carolina Chapter, March of Dimes.

Six years ago in June, Zachary, Cooper, and Charlie were born prematurely at 24 weeks. They weighed less than 1.5 pounds each and had under-developed organs. Their mother Raizel had been on bed rest for four weeks prior to their delivery, but even with medical intervention, the triplets came early.

Prior to delivery, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff talked to Raizel, now 35, and her husband Brian, now 38, about what to expect about having micropremies, babies born extremely early with very low birth weights.

“You hear terrible stories,” said Raizel. “Statistics were very grim, and the long term effects – brain bleeds, cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, definite visual and lung problems.”

The Kahns decided that even with the poor statistics, they wanted life sustaining measures.

When Raizel first saw the boys in the NICU, she said, “It was surreal, terrifying. There’s nothing you can do. You can’t hold, can’t touch. They didn’t look like any babies you’ve seen. They looked like little birds.”

Raizel and Brian got to hold Zachary for the first time after about a month in the NICU.

The boys “lived in the NICU for six months, battling devastating medical problems,” said Raizel. “When they finally came home, Cooper still had a tracheostomy tube.”

Fast-forward six years and, Charlie, Zachary and Cooper are in kindergarten and are “happy, healthy and normal little crazy people,” said Raizel.

The boys play soccer and basketball. Zachary takes a Broadway kids class, Charlie and Cooper take taekwondo, and they run around and play with their younger brother Michael, 2.

“Obviously, the road from birth to now hasn’t been easy, but medical treatments early on and six years of early intervention (play, speech, occupational, and physical therapies) saved them,” said Kahn. “Those medical treatments were largely the result of research/innovation funded by the March of Dimes, and of course, the doctors/nurses at Presbyterian Hospital (now Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center) are miracle workers.”

Kahn didn’t really know about the March of Dimes before she had the triplets. She learned later that the March of Dimes had funded research that led to the development of the steroid that she was given to help the boys’ lungs mature before they were born.

“They wouldn’t be alive without it,” said Kahn.

The Kahns are grateful to the March of Dimes, and have been involved with the organization since the boys came home from the hospital. They walk in the annual March for Babies event with the family team name DEFKAHN 6, and Raizel has served as a committee member on a previous Signature Chefs event, said Goldstein.

The boys are happy to be helping, too.

When asked what they were doing as ambassadors, Cooper said, “helping people who have sick babies, help them feel better.”

The Charlotte Signature Chefs Auction to benefit the March of Dimes will be held on Nov. 7 at Carmel Country Club. The event will include food from 15 of the Charlotte area’s top chefs. There will also be an open bar, entertainment, and silent and live auctions.

One of the auction pieces is a mural of handprints on a tree. The Kahn family recently hosted a group of 20 children, who were born prematurely, and the group created this mural, “as a testament to their lives, how they’ve thrived and the impact March of Dimes continues to make; celebrating its 75th birthday of polio to prematurity,” said Goldstein.

“The truth is that Zach, Cooper and Charlie might not be here today without the medical advances that March of Dimes helped fund,” said Brian. “Our family has such an amazing story to tell, from Raizel’s hospitalization, to the boys’ stay in the NICU, to their first day of kindergarten this fall. We feel like the March of Dimes helped make this possible and we want to give back.”

“The reason I’ve been involved with the March of Dimes for six years,” said Raizel, “is that I hope that our story can give other families hope. And that folks will continue to support the March of Dimes – because without research they have done, our boys’ lives would be very different.”

Marissa Brooks is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marissa? Email her at mbrookspt@earthlink.net.

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