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Smith's Family Named by March of Dimes

March 25, 2008

By Kate Gronewald

On the day he was born, Braxton Jones weighed 15.2 ounces and was 11 inches long. He was about the size of an average football.

Last Sept. 11, Braxton became one of the 500,000 babies born prematurely every year in the U.S. However, for one staff member in the Hankamer School of Business, Braxton isn't just a figure. He's a grandchild.

Susan Smith, budget associate at the Hankamer School of Business, has experienced six months of fear and faith as Braxton has fought infections, undergone eye surgery, and spent more time in a hospital unit than most people to do in a lifetime.

"It's definitely taught me to have faith," Smith said. "The first time I went to see him, he was so tiny that I thought there was no way we could still have him the next day."

Braxton did more than survive the night. He recently celebrated his sixth months and now weighs in at 9 pounds, 7 ounces.

"It's a blessing to see him making such marvelous progress," Smith said.

The March of Dimes has named Braxton and his parents, Luke and Ashley Jones, this year's Ambassador Family. His story is helping to promote March of Dimes' events, such as the March for Babies walk on April 26. Braxton even makes an appearance in the March for Babies brochure.

"This is such a wonderful cause, and I can't imagine what Braxton could have gone through if it wasn't for the March of Dimes," Ashley said.

March of Dimes' mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality, according to its Web site. The Jones family knows exactly how harrowing the dangers of prematurity can be.

Braxton's family put their lives on hold as he spent over two months in the neonatal intensive care unit at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, followed by a month at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. He finally came home December 15, 2007, his original due date.

Doctors at Hillcrest nominated the Jones family to serve as the March of Dimes Ambassador Family, Smith said.

On March 3, Jones spoke at a March of Dimes luncheon, where she told her son's story of survival. Braxton has come a long way from his initial 430 grams, only 30 grams above the weight where medical doctors discourage attempting any type of medical treatment.

While the trials of prematurity haven't disappeared, Braxton is well on his way to becoming a healthy growing boy. He has even attended three Baylor baseball games this season.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is blinding now," Jones said. "He is truly a miracle of God."

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