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Charly Haley, Published April 11 2013

After receiving support, family represents the March of Dimes

FARGO - Annie Larson was forced to do the unimaginable.

"No one should ever have to take a baby off life support,” she said.

But Annie and her husband, Brett, had to make that decision in 2011 when their premature twin daughters were being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit. They took their daughter Aubrey off life support 13 hours after she was born.

“She passed away on July 5th, and they were born on July 5th,” Annie said.

After Aubrey died, the Larsons’ other daughter, Madison, remained in the NICU at Essentia Health in Fargo for 101 days.

During that time, the Fargo couple received direct support from the March of Dimes, and now they are the organization’s 2013 ambassador family.

On Saturday, they’ll be at Scheels Arena in Fargo for the March of Dimes’ annual March of Babies fundraiser, telling the story of Aubrey and Madison’s birth.

“We get to represent the March of Dimes and for anyone who has questions, we hope we can get them the answers,” Annie said. “We’ve gone through quite a bit, so we know what having a preemie is like.”

Annie is a delivery nurse at Essentia Health in Fargo, so she was familiar with the problems her daughters were having, but it was much different when her own family was affected.

“I didn’t comprehend it until it was all done,” she said.

She wasn’t able to deal with the situation immediately because she was hospitalized in the intensive care unit right after the birth.

“I had a lot of fear. I didn’t know what was going on,” Brett said. “And then you (Annie) were even struggling, so I was kind of torn between two different floors of the hospital.”

A March of Dimes representative helped the Larsons throughout Madison’s time in the NICU.

“It seemed like whenever we were there, she was there to help us,” Annie said.

But she doesn’t only credit March of Dimes for providing help while her daughter was in treatment. Much of the research that went into the care she and her daughters received was made possible by March of Dimes.

“You can’t always prevent it,” Annie said. “We were unable to prevent ours – I was monitored every two weeks, and it happens. But we’re hoping that March of Dimes will continue their research and figure new things out to help prevent premature births and deaths.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311