Henry Waters, 3, was born premature with underdeveloped lungs.

Born at 36 weeks, he was in an incubator for two days at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Eliza­bethtown and had to remain there to allow his weight to reach normal levels. Jason Waters, his father, said Henry was “a baby that needed a little more extra care.”

“He had to stay a little longer just to make sure he was moving in the right direction,” he said.

Jason said their experience wasn’t what some people have to go through. He said they were fortunate the family’s experience was a very short-lived scare.

Henry’s mother, Elizabeth Waters, agreed.

“Anytime you hear something is wrong right after birth, it is very, very scary, especially, I think, for first-time parents,” Elizabeth said. “I didn’t know if he was going to make it. You are just so scared about everything.”

Elizabeth said parents who have had a child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit share the same “emotional journey.”

“You are just worried sick about your child,” she said.

In Henry’s situation, Eliza­beth said doctors typically use a surfactant treatment to aid in the development of the lungs. March of Dimes researchers helped develop surfactant treatment, which its website said “has saved tens of thousands of premature babies with breathing problems.”

Elizabeth said Henry just needed some high-flow oxygen. Otherwise, they would have had to go to a Louisville hospital. Surfactant was not offered locally at the time, Jason said.

“(Henry) got to stay here in Elizabethtown with us,” Elizabeth said.

As Henry ran around their home Wednesday night playing with toys, Elizabeth said he is doing fine now. She is pregnant with their second child, another boy.

The Waterses are the ambassador family for this year’s March for Babies event, which is meant to spread awareness and raise money for March of Dimes and its work in helping pre-term babies. This is the family’s first year involved with the organization.

“We really wanted to become involved with a mission that was able to provide for children that needed a little bit of extra care the first part of their lives,” Elizabeth said.

They were asked to be the ambassador family and gladly accepted. Jason said they love to be able to help raise awareness for an organization that “does such good work.” March of Dimes is an organization dedicated to helping women have full-term and healthy pregnancies.

As the ambassador family, the Waterses will be leading the walk. Henry said he was excited for it.

The walk is at 10 a.m. Sat­urday at Free­man Lake Park in Eliza­bethtown. Reg­is­tra­tion begins at 9 a.m.

Anyone interested in participating in the walk can register at marchforbabies.org.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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