It's hard to imagine a loss more devastating to new parents than the death of their premature baby, a member of the family taken away before he ever has a real chance at living.

South Jersey natives Jen and Brian Larsen know the pain firsthand. Their son Leif died on Oct. 13, 2019, after a 52-hour fight for his life.

That tragedy inspired the creation of the Leif Aleutian Foundation and Leif's Legacy 5K Run & Walk, founded in memory of their son who died in the neonatal Intensive care unit (NICU) just 52 hours after being born prematurely at just 26 weeks.

The 2021 Leif's Legacy 5K Run & Walk will be held on Sun, Oct. 17, beginning at 9 am in Sea Isle City.

Brian and Jen have shared their story about the events that led up to the loss of their son.

Brian and Jen's 20-week anatomy sonogram in August 2019 showed complete placenta previa. While working in Alaska, Jen was medi-vaced out of Skagway to Seattle, WA for severe bleeding which led to further knowledge about the pregnancy.

They experienced complete placenta previa and placenta percreta, leading to multiple events of severe bleeding and the premature delivery of Leif Aleutian on October 11. Doctors and staff within the University of Washington Medical Center NICU worked with Leif to give him the best chance of survival, but his lungs were too underdeveloped to sustain breathing on his own.

Sadly, the Larsen's tragic story of Leif's death is not unusual. Statistics from the World Health Organization on preterm birth are startling. Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age.

  • As many as 11.4 percent of all pregnancies end in early deliveries.
  • About 450,000 babies in the United States alone are born too soon, and 15 million babies are born preterm around the world - that's 1 in 10!
  • 80 plus percent of preterm births are unanticipated.
  • Approximately 45-50% of preterm births are idiopathic. (unknown)
  • 30% are related to preterm rupture of membranes.
  • 15-20% are attributed to medically indicated (example: preeclampsia, abruption, IUGR) or elective preterm deliveries.

What is also alarming is the occurrence of preterm births in America. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in any high-resource country.

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The Lief Aleutian Foundation and Leif's legacy 5K Run & Walk were developed by his family to raise awareness of premature birth and infant death, helping more of the public realize how frequent infant loss occurs while supporting further research to provide infants and babies a higher chance of survival.

Half of the proceeds from Leif's legacy 5K Run & Walk will be donated to Shore Medical Center's Special Care Nursery, with the other half going to the Dahl Memorial Clinic in Skagway, Alaska --Brian & Jen's local Alaskan clinic that has taken care of their family before, during, and after pregnancy.

Please join me in running or walking and raising money and awareness for premature birth and infant death on Oct 17th. I hope to see you there!

See complete race and fundraising information.

 Leif's legacy 5K Run & Walk begins on the Sea Isle City Promenade intersection with JFK Blvd. The race starts at 9 am.
Virtual participants: Log your 5k run/walk with your app of choice. Feel free to share your race details to our Non-Profit page helping to recreate race camaraderie regardless of a world pandemic.


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