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'Miracle baby' family recognized by March of Dimes

Heidi Case says her daughter Ellery is the strongest person she knows after overcoming all of her medical conditions to survive. (Bulletin photo by Amber Kispert)

Before Ellery Case was even born, she was fighting for her life.

"She was born fighting," Ellery's mother Heidi Case of Woodbury said. "She is the reason she is here today -- she fought; she really put up a battle."

As a result of their fight, Ellery and her parents have recently been named ambassadors for the area March of Dimes organization, which raises money to help families with infants born prematurely.

After a whirlwind few months of doctor visits and diagnoses Ellery's family became actively involved with the March for Babies, which is put on by the March of Dimes Foundation.

Last year, Case and her family participated in the St. Paul March for Babies and raised more than $6,000 making her the top fundraiser for the event held at Lake Phalen.

This year's walk will be held April 25.

"Honestly, I did not know what the March of Dimes was before Ellery," Case said. "Being directly affected, definitely has an effect on you -- it's changed my whole life."

A 'miracle baby'

Ellery was born with a condition called Hydrops, which means that she was born with an abnormal collection of fluid in at least two body compartments -- Hydrops has a mortality rate of 98 percent.

Ellery beat all odds to survive, and has been referred to by medical staff as a "miracle baby."

Ellery received a clean bill of health last February.

At just more than a year old she shows no obvious signs of the ordeal that she went through, with the exception of a motor delay.

"If all we're dealing with is a motor delay, I'm just fine," Case said. "She's here, she's alive, she's happy, she's healthy."

Currently Ellery doesn't crawl, walk, stand up or pull herself up.

Case said her daughter's gross motor delay could be attributed to the fact that she was so very sick for the first four months of her life and lying flat on her back.

"That really affected her," she said. "I think she's gonna be fine.

"She's just content sitting and doesn't have a real desire to move right now-- she's just set in her ways, and stubborn like her mom."

Dealing with doctors

Even though she's been called a miracle, Ellery still sees a lot of doctors, including regular check-ups with a pediatrician, a visit to the pulmonologist and endrocinologist once a year and a neonatal intensive care unit follow-up every six months.

"For a while it was every week," Case said. "It's a nice change of pace."

However, there has been a new development in Ellery's health in terms of genetics, but nothing to be concerned about, her mother added.

Doctors recently discovered Ellery has a genetic condition related to the duplication of one of her chromosomes.

Neither Heidi Case or Ellery's father Greg Case have this condition.

"That means it was kind of a fluke thing that happened with her," Heidi Case said.

Case said the genetic condition has no connection to any of Ellery's previous hardships. Case said after being through so much with Ellery, the most recent news did not come as a shock and she and her husband are not entirely worried about it.

"To me, it wasn't good news or bad news, it's just what it is since we've dealt with so much at this point," she said. "But, we've kind of gotten to the point where we're like 'She's not a science experiment, she's our baby."

Fighting for babies

Case said even though everything her family has had to deal with over the last year made for tough times, she truly believes that it all happened for a reason.

"This happened for a reason and this is what I was meant to do -- I'm very passionate about it," she said. "It's become my mission and my calling.

"We have our miracle and we take it and run with it, and if we can help one (other) family it's priceless."

The "St. Paul March for Babies" is planned for Sunday, April 25 at Lake Phalen. For more information or to donate, visit Heidi Case's March of Dimes page at

For more information about Ellery Case, visit her Caring Bridge website at

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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