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Baby Lauryn inspires local blood drive



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Andrew and Brynne Salmon watch over their daughter Lauryn, born 15 weeks early on Nov. 21. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
February 09, 2011
TILTON — Born 15 weeks early, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces, Lauryn Salmon has already struggled through more than the average adult, undergoing surgeries and blood transfusions and spending months at one hospital and days at another. But Lauryn also has something that most babies will never experience the love and support of an entire community.

Born Nov. 21 via C-section, Lauryn is the daughter of Andrew and Brynne Salmon, who met and fell in love while working at the Tilton Police Department. They were featured in the Echo last year, when, for her bridal shower, Brynne Salmon, nee Johnstone, asked her guests to bring gifts for the New Hampshire Humane Society rather than for herself and her husband-to-be.

It was that gesture that prompted Heather Bishop-Dumka to organize a blood drive in Lauryn's honor.

"We've known Andrew for years," said Bishop-Dumka, whose husband used to work as the dispatcher for Tilton PD the job Brynne Salmon took over when he went to the Belknap County Sheriff's Department. "They're just really wonderful, giving people."

Bishop-Dumka said that because of the snowstorms and bad weather that have pummeled much of the country in the past couple months, blood levels are critically low. She said that Brynne Salmon had posted a message on her Facebook page explaining that Lauryn needed several blood transfusions and encouraging anyone with her rare blood type B+ to consider donating.

"Instead of buying them clothing, why not give the gift of life?" Bishop-Dumka said.

Brynne Salmon was admitted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic for severe preeclampsia Nov. 15 and six days later delivered Lauryn via c-section. Lauryn was immediately put on a ventilator and remained on it for the first 65 days of life.

During that time doctors also had to treat a hear murmur caused by a PDA (patent ductus arteriosus), which, according to Brynne Salmon, is when the blood vessel that connects the aorta and the pulmonary artery does not close. This can put a strain on the heart and increase blood pressure in the lungs.

"They attempted to close her PDA," Brynne Salmon wrote in an email from Boston Children's Hospital. "(But) she suffered from acute renal failure and therefore underwent surgical ligation of her PDA on Dec. 19."

The procedure worked for a while, but on Jan. 14, the Salmons learned that the PDA had re-opened. Lauryn will have to undergo the surgery again in coming months.

Lauryn has also suffered pneumonia and Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, also known as chronic lung disease.

Most recently, Lauryn was sent from the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth to Boston Children's Hospital after being diagnosed with stage 2 plus disease in her eyes, which, if left untreated, can cause blindness. As of Sunday, the Salmons were told that Lauryn doesn't need eye surgery yet but will have to be closely monitored. Brynne Salmon said she was hoping to bring Lauryn back to Dartmouth early this week.

"Lauryn has a long road ahead of her," Brynne Salmon wrote. "She will come home on oxygen and a monitor and will need to be isolated from large crowds, public places and anyone with symptoms of illness while her immune system continues to mature and strengthen. We are hoping and aiming to bring her home this spring."

Brynne Salmon is currently taking an unpaid family medical leave of absence and spends all day, every day at the hospital by her daughter's side. Andrew Salmon is back at Tilton PD, working full time as a patrolman.

"I see my husband only on his days off when he comes to see Lauryn and in the midst of everything, we still have a mortgage, bills and the upkeep of our home," Brynne Salmon wrote.

Despite the challenges, the Salmons have found strength in community.

"We are extremely grateful for all of the prayers and support," Brynne Salmon wrote. "Lauryn could not ask for a better circle of family, friends and community to be born into."

For every pint of blood donated, up to three people are helped, Bishop-Dumka said.

The blood drive will be held Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 2-7 p.m. at the Pines Community Center in Northfield. Each presenting donor will receive a coupon for a free 6-inch sub from Subway. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are appreciated, Bishop-Dumka said. Appointments can be made at 1-800-red-cross or www.givelife.org.

Bishop-Dumka stressed that people who want to give blood but can't make it that day can do it anytime, anywhere, or do anything to help children like Lauryn.

"Do something in little Lauryn's honor," she said.

She said she's also still looking for people to volunteer at the blood drive and restaurants to donate food.

"We can't thank Heather enough for all of the time and work she has put into this," Brynne Salmon wrote. "She's amazing, and this is the best gift we could ask for."

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