Prince William News
Fri., Feb. 27 - Written by Ray Bradbury in 1953, the novel 'Farenheit 451' enthralled readers with its gripping tale of a society in shambles: a place where books are burned, and the firemen don't stop fires, but start them. Woodbridge Senior High School's recent production based on the book was alight with talented leads, dedicated supporting actors and special effects which added to the realism of the production.
Fri., Feb. 27 - A walk through Old Town Manassas is sure to include a stop or two at galleries, a quick bite to eat and a browsing of used book stores. Now, residents and visitors may also want to drop by the City Hall to see “The Hall” and the latest displays of art work in the city. "It's great to see City Hall being used to inspire creativity and art in the community," said Mayor Hal Parrish.
Fri., Feb. 27 - A reporter is to a politician what a barking dog is to a chicken thief. That’s how Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mike Royko described his job. The Chicago Tribune reporter, who died in 1997, was the voice of everyday people and working stiffs.
Fri., Feb. 27 - Licenses have been obtained, the still and fermenters are in place, the ribbon has been cut and the doors of MurLarkey in Bristow will soon be open to lovers of handcrafted distilled spirits. The name MurLarkey itself is a handcrafted blend of the names of the co-founders, Thomas Murray, the chief executive officer, and Mike Larkin, director of business and product development. The “ey” at the end is a nod to Grandmother Kelley in the family.
Fri., Feb. 27 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the Eastern Seaboard would see heavier than usual precipitation this year. While heavier precipitation hasn’t meant much snow in our area, so far, snow removal could still be a factor as winter continues for a little while longer.
Thu., Feb. 26 - It is a crime that often happens in the shadows of our community. Human trafficking has taken a foothold in Northern Virginia, and all parents and teachers need to be aware of this heinous crime. Victims have been lured by phrases such as “you’re pretty” and “you can make some money” on social media. What is so grotesque about this crime is the perpetrators target the young and vulnerable.
Thu., Feb. 26 - On Saturday, three local girls shoveled walks and driveways for donations to the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry. Allison Curran of Osbourn Park High, Sydney King of Battlefield High and Caitlyn Bannan of Bull Run Middle worked up a storm to help neighbors in need.
Thu., Feb. 26 - The westward extension of the Virginia Railway Express from Broad Run to Haymarket may receive a new breath of life from the Haymarket Town Council, although the town planning commission chairman declared the proposal is "dead" and can't go anywhere.
Thu., Feb. 26 - Athletes from Battlefield, Osbourn, Osbourn Park, Patriot and Stonewall Jackson competed in the Group 6A North Region indoor track and field championship on Feb. 19 at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Center in Landover, Md.
Wed., Feb. 25 - Gail Peterson (Bristow) enjoys the solitude and peacefulness of an unoccupied ice-rink during Saturday's snowstorm. Peterson said, "I never get to do this, normally I am racing around, taking my kids to all their different things; today everything is canceled because of the snow."
Baby Alexander Brown fights for life
© Gainesville Times
The Browns experience health crises daily but it always involves others. Tommy Brown is an emergency room technician at the Culpeper Regional Hospital and Heather is a 911 dispatcher in Orange. They both volunteer with the Culpeper Rescue Squad.
Juggling the demands of competing medical emergencies is second nature to the hard working couple. But it little prepared them for the emotional and financial crisis that occurred when their son was born with major health issues.
Alexander’s birth appeared normal at first. Heather came to almost full-term at 38 weeks gestation but delivered by caesarian section; she had incurred some liver and bladder issues during her pregnancy but has recovered her health. Her son weighed a respectable six pounds 14 ounces at birth.
But shortly after transfer to the hospital nursery, respiration tests showed the baby’s oxygen saturation levels were in the 70 percent range; normal is mid-90s. Dr. Williams, the attending pediatric physician, quickly determined the condition could not be treated in Culpeper.
Fortunately for Alexander, the highly reputed University of Virginia Medical Center was an hour’s ambulance ride away. A Neonatal Transport Team was called into action. The team operates with three professionals and is on-call around the clock.
Tommy Brown accompanied his son on the swift drive to Charlottesville. His mother followed the next day.
Once in the highly specialized world of UVA pediatrics, it was determined that the baby had been born with a hole in his lungs and they were prematurely developed. The diagnosis was pulmonary hypertension. The resultant cardiac pressure had also enlarged his heart.
He was placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO; commonly referred to as a heart-lung machine. The equipment provides cardiac and respiratory support for patients whose heart and lungs cannot function on their own.
Under the care of the professional staff at UVA, Alexander has improved significantly but is not yet ready for discharge.
While his enlarged heart has returned to normal size his lungs are still a problem. He has been taken off the ECMO machine but is still on a ventilator. The doctors are in the process of weaning him off that machine.
“It’s a slow process until he can use his lungs on his own. They need to open up so he doesn’t need machine support to breathe,” said Heather Brown.
As is often the case with difficult medical conditions, an additional problem developed. Alexander is now having difficulty digesting food and may have developed protein intolerance. The parents are hopeful that condition will resolve soon and they can all return home.
“If he stays the path and gets on his own, it’s a minimum of another week at UVA,” said Heather Brown. “He needs to be able to breathe on his own. And then they need to be sure he doesn’t have any additional issues.
“They started feeding him Sunday and they checked his stomach and he hadn’t digested anything.” Once the stomach issues are resolved baby Alexander will be released.
“We have to give a big thanks to the Culpeper Hospital Family Birth Center and to Dr. Williams. He identified Alexander’s problem quickly. If he didn’t transfer him when he did, my son probably would not have made it,” Tommy Brown said.
The Brown’s have been living in Charlottesville since February 12. They are staying at a hotel five minutes from the hospital. They are on leave from their jobs and spend 10 hours a day with their son. They are grateful for the support their employers, family and friends have provided them during their ordeal.
“Our employers have been very understanding,” Heather Brown said. “They have supported us. My co-workers made dinners for my family and Tommy’s co-workers sent a care package down to the hotel. Our employers have been great.”
Both parents of the couple have been helping with their other two children, ages four and eight. “They’ve been getting the kids down here regularly to see us,” Heather Brown said.
As their son’s medical condition continues to improve, the looming financial costs of the ordeal will begin to face them.
While they do know their insurance plans will cover some of the medical costs, they have not had any contact with the companies regarding specific coverage. “The ambulance ride alone cost $10,000,” said Tommy Brown. “And the ECMO machine was $3,000 a day. We’ve already spent over $2,000 on hotels and meals.”
One of the couple’s good friends, Christy Hoeffer, has created a fundraising website for people to make contributions to help cover current and future medical costs. The site is http://www.gofundme.com/. The search code is: Healing Baby Alexander.
The site has already generated $3,920 from 49 donors. On the site Hoeffer states, “You may know Heather and Tommy Brown. They are the most selfless people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Please keep Alexander in your prayers and if there is anything you can contribute or do for them it is appreciated.”
Anyone interested in helping the Browns are encouraged to support the fundraising effort. It is a fitting way to repay these two Culpeper citizens who have given much to the local community.
John Hagarty is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org