march for babies blog

9 Jan
Linda

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Posted by Linda


Chris and Vince Centofanti thought they knew all about preterm birth. She was a neonatal nurse-practitioner caring for critically ill babies, and he worked for GE Healthcare’s Maternal-Infant Care division, providing specialized medical equipment to hospitals.

But then their own baby, Nina, was born nine weeks early, weighing less than three pounds. She suffered from respiratory distress and spent her first five weeks fighting for life in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

“I can’t tell you how difficult it was, seeing our own little girl lying in the NICU, fighting for life. All our hopes and dreams for her hung in the balance,” says Chris Centofanti. “As a nurse-practitioner I’ve seen many other parents in this situation, and now I know exactly how they feel.”

“I never expected that my own daughter would have to be cared for in a NICU with the equipment I had provided to the hospital,” says Vince Centofanti.

Chris adds, “Thanks to the care that Nina received, and the support of the March of Dimes for research and treatment, now we also know the relief and joy parents feel when their child survives and becomes healthy enough to leave the NICU and go home.”

Today Nina Centofanti has grown into an active 7-year-old who loves to dance, climb trees and turn handsprings. She has been named the March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador.

As ambassador, Nina and her family will travel the United States visiting public officials and corporate sponsors, and encouraging people to participate in the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser, March for Babies. The money raised supports community programs that help moms have healthy, full term pregnancies, and funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies’ lives.

“Serving as the National Ambassador family is a way for us to show our appreciation for our children’s good health, and serve as advocates for lifesaving March of Dimes programs,” says Vince. “The March of Dimes has provided 75 years of support for research, treatments, educational and prenatal care programs that has saved lives, reduced the suffering, and improved the quality of life for countless children and the parents who love them. My daughter Nina is one of their success stories; a perfect example of what March of Dimes efforts have accomplished.”

Nearly half a million babies in the U.S. are born too soon each year. Babies who survive an early birth often have breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and other lifelong problems. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.

The Centofantis have been dedicated March of Dimes volunteers for several years. In 2012, Vince joined more than 1000 colleagues at GE in Cincinnati to raise more than $240,000 for their March for Babies campaign.

“Even though Chris and I had experience in the NICU and working with the March of Dimes, nothing could have prepared us for having our own preemie,” Vince says.

While pregnant with Nina, Chris felt unwell at 31 weeks and went to the hospital. She was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a form of high blood pressure with elevated liver enzymes and a low blood platelet count. It is a rare, but potentially life-threatening illness that typically occurs late in pregnancy. The only treatment is to deliver the baby as soon as possible.

For the next 48 hours, Chris was treated with steroids to help develop baby Nina’s lungs before birth. At birth, Nina was immediately transferred to the NICU, where she spent the next five weeks.

In addition, the Centofantis have an older son Nick, and a second daughter, Mia, who was born at 35 weeks of pregnancy, thanks in part to weekly progesterone treatments which reduced the risk of Chris going into premature labor.

Thanks to United Airlines, official airline sponsor of the National Ambassador program, Nina and her family will travel the United States visiting public officials and corporate sponsors, and encouraging people to participate in the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser, March for Babies. The money raised supports community programs that help moms have healthy, full term pregnancies, and funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies’ lives.

United Airlines is the official airline sponsor of the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program for the 8th consecutive year, and a National Sponsor of March of Dimes March for Babies. With an employee base of 85,000 strong, United is committed to making the communities it serves a priority, and is helping the March of Dimes reach hundreds of thousands of families with important information about having healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

COMMENTS

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by Kenneth Kasprzak — January 23, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

A wonderful story with encouraging results. A lovely picture. The story is very familiar as our twin grandchildren born at 30 weeks received live sustaining care and treatment resulting from March of Dimes research and development. Our family supports the walk. And wish you much success in your role as Ambassador

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by Kenneth Kasprzak — January 23, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

A wonderful story with encouraging results. A lovely picture. The story is very familiar as our twin grandchildren born at 30 weeks received live sustaining care and treatment resulting from March of Dimes research and development. Our family supports the walk. And wish you much success in your role as Ambassador

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by Kathy k — January 26, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

Would like to know how I can participate in march of dimes. I would like to join a group.

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by Katelyn Hall — January 28, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

Dear Nina,

Congratulations on being chosen as the 2013 March of Dimes National Ambassador. You are going to have a great year and meet so many wonderful people. I was born at 25 weeks weighing only 15.5 oz because my mom suffered from the same thing your mom did – HELLP syndrome. I am so thankful for the March of Dimes for all of their research that helped to save my life and other babies like us. I just wanted to say have a great year and enjoy your time helping to make sure that one day all babies can have a healthy start.

Love,
Katelyn Hall
2009 MOD National Ambassador

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by Kassady Shope — January 30, 2013 @ 9:49 am

She is beautiful! I have suffered from severe HELLP syndrome twice. My son passed away after being born at 24 weeks. My daughter just turned 1, she was born at 33 weeks (with lots of help from my dr’s). This is a touching story that is near and dear to my heart. God Bless!

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by Eric — February 12, 2013 @ 12:30 am

Not to sound rude but I would like to see where this money is going and what percentage REALLY goes to help and what it really help. Thank you

Meet Our 2013 National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti

Comment by admin — February 14, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

Eric, this is a fair question and one we get frequently. 76 cents of every dollar donated to the March of Dimes goes directly to research and programs. To learn more please visit: http://bit.ly/VGHPAj

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