Local doctor named 'hero' for preemie care

Doctor wins Hand to Hold award

BOISE -- A local doctor received a big honor Friday from a nation program called Hand to Hold.

Hand to Hold is a community-based national support program for parents of preemies and babies born with special health care needs.

Mead Johnson Nutrition partnered with Hand to Hold to create the NICU Heroes Award. Boise neonatologist Dr Steward Lawrence was given the award for his work at St. Alphonsus Medical Center's NICU.

A Meridian mother nominated Dr. Lawrence for the award.

"You want to find some way to say thank you for saving my children, but there is just no way to say it to really feel like you have done enough to say thank you," said Sophia Carney.

Carney and her husband are the proud parents of four young daughters. Last year, they learned they were pregnant with two more twins.

"Finding out we were having twins was really crazy," she said.

After doing some research on her own, Carney learned about something called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

"It happens in about 15 percent of identical twin pregnancies," Carney explained.

It happens when blood flow through the baby's placenta connections becomes unbalanced and one baby gets too much fluid while the other is not getting enough.

"Very often the baby can actually die in the womb one of the two twins as a result of this complication." explained Dr. Lawrence.

With the help of Dr. Lawrence and St. Al's, Carney said quality care was within reach.

First, Sophia was flown to Denver for a surgery that took place in the womb to sever the placenta connection.

"So it separated the placenta so that if one were to pass, it wouldn't take the other as well and 24 hours later we found out there were still two heartbeats which was amazing," Carney said.

Three weeks later Sophia Carney's water broke when she was back in Idaho.

"We were at 26 weeks and six days when they were actually born," she said.

Carney thanks the dedication and compassion of Dr. Lawrence for the health of her two babies Evangeline and Noel today.

"The best part about it to me was that it draws attention to our field of medicine and to the plight of these families that have to go through this sort of life for months at a time," said Dr. Lawrence.

Friday morning at the St. Al's NICU, many of Dr. Lawrence's colleagues gathered to celebrate the award. At the St. Al's NICU, Carney and her six daughters, along with many others gathered to celebrate the work of Dr. Lawrence.

"There was this NICU heroes award, and it was a pretty new thing but that I could nominate Dr Lawrence if wanted to and of course I wanted to," said Carney.

Carney said her baby girls are happy and healthy and will celebrate their first birthdays on October 16th.

The NICU heroes award includes a $2,500 dollar donation in the winner's name to the charity of their choice. Dr. Lawrence chose St. Jude's Children's research Hospital to get that donation.


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