The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

April 23, 2014

Walk for Babies slated Saturday: March of Dimes event hits home for Pollards

ENID, Okla. — When two local residents walk in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies this weekend, they will be walking to raise money for a cause that has become even more real to them over the past year.

Dr. Barry and Roxanne Pollard are serving as the co-chairs of the walk. The couple’s granddaughter, Rebecca Jane King, is Northwest Oklahoma March of Dimes Ambassador, after being born with a cleft lip and palate on April 29, 2013.

Roxanne Pollard said she was involved with March of Dimes before Rebecca’s birth, but it was after her granddaughter was born she realized the importance of the work done by the March of Dimes.

“It takes a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of things to be able to deal with all the different types of birth defects. Her birth was truly a turning point for us,” Roxanne Pollard said.

Rebecca is the daughter of Doug and April King, who now live in Bixby.

Roxanne Pollard said when April was 20 weeks pregnant with Rebecca, the family learned the baby would be born with a cleft lip and palate.

“No one in any of our families has ever had a cleft lip or palate, so we were just kind of stunned by the news,” Roxanne Pollard said.

The family found a doctor in Dallas to treat Rebecca.

Roxanne Pollard said Rebecca was born with a complete cleft palate — which meant she had a total opening in the roof of her mouth, affecting the hard and soft palate — and a bilateral cleft lip.

Rebecca’s cleft lip meant that she had an opening on both sides of her lip and it was open from her nose down to her mouth, Roxanne Pollard said. Rebecca’s gums were on the outside of her mouth, she said.

A device in her mouth pulled it all down, Roxanne Pollard said.

“They really don’t ever know until they’re born if they have a cleft palate or not. They can tell that they have a cleft lip, but they just don’t know about the palate and how it’s affecting them until they’re born,” Roxanne Pollard said.

After her birth, Rebecca was in the intensive care unit for five days for breathing complications and because she needed to be fed through a tube with a syringe.

“We all had to learn, of course, how to do that,” Roxanne Pollard said, referring to feeding Rebecca.

Rebecca went home for two days before making her first trip to Dallas. For 16 weeks, she went to Dallas every week.

A special device was made to put into her mouth to pull everything together and prepare Rebecca’s mouth for surgery, Roxanne Pollard said.

At 4 months old, Rebecca had her first surgery to repair her lip. During the surgery, Roxanne Pollard said Rebecca also had tubes put into her ears and had surgery done on her nose.

“For four months, we saw her with a cleft lip that was bilateral and she had a huge smile because of it, so we knew that was going to change her looks to have it all closed,” Roxanne Pollard said. “And she needed to have it done, but it made everyone wonder, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ Course, we knew we were, but it would be a different smile she had when it was closed.”

With her lip closed, it became harder to feed Rebecca, Roxanne Pollard said. Rebecca did not have a way to suck without a palate and continued to be fed through a tube.

At 71⁄2 months old, Rebecca’s palate was closed.

Roxanne Pollard said Rebecca still does not know how to suck.

“She’s done great from that surgery,” Roxanne Pollard said.

Rebecca will be faced with surgeries in the future, related to her teeth.

Roxanne Pollard said Rebecca will have a surgery next year to do bone grafts for her gums and she also will have to have another surgery on her nose.

“She’s doing wonderful, she’s doing great,” she said. “The difference from when she was born with her cleft lip and what you see now, it’s truly amazing. It’s just a true medical miracle what they can do now.”

Roxanne Pollard said the family is trying to help the March of Dimes raise more money than was raised last year.

She said Enid March for Babies raised $99,700 last year, and the goal for this year is $103,000.

The family’s team, Rebecca’s Journey, will walk the four-mile walk on Saturday. Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Convention Hall.

Roxanne Pollard said the walk gives everyone in the community a chance to work together to promote having stronger, healthier babies and to try to make a difference in the lives of those babies.

Walk participants bring in funding through their participation, Roxanne Pollard said.

Roxanne Pollard said an ambassador is named each year, and Rebecca will serve for the entire year. As part of being ambassador, the family gives talks, raises donations and tries to raise awareness of the March of Dimes and walk.

Another event on Friday also will help raise funds for the March of Dimes. Roxanne Pollard said 40 teams will participate in Bowling for Babies, an event that already has filled up with participants.

“For my husband, and myself, we actually couldn’t think of anything that’s a more important cause than to have healthy babies, and to try to prevent the prematurity of babies and the birth defects,” Roxanne Pollard said. “March of Dimes tries to find the genetics that connect many of the birth defects, including the cleft lips and/or palates, to find that gene so that maybe in the future it doesn’t occur anymore.”

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