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North Huntingdon boy serves as inspiration for March of Dimes walk

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Staci Kotch and Tim Kotch pose with their children, from left: Marlee, Brookleyn and Timmy Kotch. Timmy will be the ambassador for an upcoming March for Babies Walk in Greensburg. Submitted photo
Submitted photo
The Kotch family poses with Mickey Mouse during a family trip to Disney World in Orlando last year. Timmy will be the ambassador for an upcoming March for Babies Walk in Greensburg.
From left, Brookleyn Kotch, Timmy Kotch and Marlee Kotch pose for a photo. Timmy will be the ambassador for an upcoming March for Babies Walk in Greensburg. Submitted photo

Timmy Kotch was born five weeks premature with a variety of health issues, including lung problems.

In addition, an ultrasound showed the center portion of his brain, or the corpus callosum, was missing, as was his pituitary gland, responsible for creating hormones.

His current condition has stunned doctors.

“With everything the doctors told us about him, he's a miracle baby,” his mother, Staci, said. “His doctors always said he's a train wreck on paper, but you see him, and he's an everyday, average kid.”

Now, Timmy Kotch will spend his second birthday serving as the ambassador for the 2013 March of Dimes Westmoreland March for Babies Walk on April 28 at Lynch Field in Greensburg.

Timmy and his parents, Staci and Tim Kotch, hope his story will inspire others to support the March of Dimes.

About 500 people attend the Westmoreland March for Babies Walk, according to Jessica Szramowski, the organization's Westmoreland County community coordinator. Last year, it raised $95,000 for research and programming to prevent prematurity and birth defects, and to give support to families, she said.

Each year, the March of Dimes appoints an ambassador who has been affected by a premature birth, birth defects, or a family which has experienced the loss of a child, Szramowski said.

“The Kotch family has been involved with March of Dimes for many years,” Szramowski said. “The story of the struggles they've gone though is a good reminder of why we need to fund research — so other families won't have to go through this.”

After he was born, doctors noticed Timmy had difficulty breathing. They transferred him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. Doctors treated him for underdeveloped lungs, Staci said.

Timmy came home after 56 days in intensive care, Staci said.

Timmy receives medicine every eight hours to regulate his body's hormones, and he undergoes speech and other physical therapies each week, Staci said.

But to look at Timmy, “You'd never know anything was wrong,” Staci said.

Timmy's birth wasn't the first time the Kotch family has faced birth complications.

The Kotches' oldest daughter, Brookleyn, was born 10 weeks premature, and their second daughter, Lillian, died after she was born. Their next daughter, Marlee, was born healthy.

Staci credits the March of Dimes' funding and research for the health of her children.

“Many people think the March of Dimes is only there to help premature babies, but they have their hands in all of the testing and medicine,” Staci said. “If you have children, this organization touches your life, without any question.

“Even if you have perfectly healthy children, they should be the reason you get involved.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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