Mom launches fundraiser

10/05/06

Although the death of her son in 2005 spurred Claudia to organize a five-kilometre walk this past Sunday, the Woodbridge resident hopes the outcome of the event will be anything but tragic.

"Part of my grieving is to turn it into a positive thing," said Claudia, 35, whose son Matthew died in January 2005 from a condition called vasa previa. "And the fact that it could have been prevented is why I'm trying to create awareness. I'm not trying to scare anyone with this, but if you know the risk factors, you never know, it could save a life."

Vasa previa is considered rare, and affects one in every 2,500 pregnancies. The condition involves the fetal blood vessels that are usually held within the womb travelling freely in the placenta. When contractions start, those blood vessels can rupture and cause the infant to bleed to death.

Her pregnancy with her twin sons Matthew and Steven (who is now more than a year old) was smooth, Claudia said. But during the birth on Jan. 12, 2005, she realized something was wrong when she was rushed to a room where an emergency cesarean was performed. Steven survived, Matthew was in critical condition. He died that afternoon. Sunday's walk was in honour of Matthew, and to raise cash for and awareness of vasa previa.

Claudia and her husband, Dominic, 36, have since also had a daughter, Erica, who is now six weeks old.

Last weekend marked Sophie's Walk for Vasa Previa, when people in 50 cities walked to raise money and awareness of the condition. Sunday's walk represented the first such walk in Woodbridge.

Technology -- called a transvaginal colour Doppler -- exists to detect vasa previa before birth. Women can then have a scheduled cesarean and the infant has almost a 100 per cent chance of survival.

That's why raising awareness of the condition is critical, Claudia said. "It can be diagnosed before birth. That's the hard part to accept, that he could have survived," she said. "My main goal is to prevent other babies from dying of this. When you go through the loss of a child you want to do something so that death won't be in vain."

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.ivpf.org.