Zoe will go

Zoe Ubay Carvalho giggled with glee as she watched her coin plop into the fountain at Kukui Grove, yesterday.

She was joined by her best friend Autumn Lee as the two children enjoyed tossing coins into the water.

But had it not been for the help of the March of Dimes and the staff at Kapiolani Children’s Hospital, the Friday scene might have been entirely different.

There might be no Zoe.

“When we went in, the situation was so critical, the doctors and staff were only talking about saving the mom,” said Ken Carvalho, Zoe’s dad. “They didn’t even mention the possibility of saving the baby.”

Lisa, Zoe’s mom, agreed. She remembered doctors yelling and people scrambling as an indication of how critical the situation was.

The confusion was compounded by an air ambulance trip that took 13 hours from Wilcox Memorial Hospital to Kapiolani Hospital where Zoe was born April 14, 2004.

“She was so small, her whole body fit in my hands,” Ken said. “She weighed just 1 pound, 12.5 ounces and measured only 12.5 inches.”

That was two and a half years ago.

Yesterday, Zoe was frolicking with her friend Autumn, begging grandpa Carvalho for coins to toss in the fountain.

“It is amazing,” is all Ken could say. “The help from Kapiolani was outstanding. It was scary, though.”

Lisa credits their employers for a lot of Zoe’s progress.

A human resources officer at the Princeville Resort, Lisa said both her work, and the Kaua‘i Police Department where Ken is an officer, allowed them to be with Zoe for the long hospital stay.

“We were with her every day, for every step,” Ken said. That recuperative period took more than two months before Zoe was well enough to make the trip home to Kaua‘i.

Lisa credits Wayne Hackett, a master in the ancient Japanese healing art of Jin Shin Juytsu, with Zoe’s survival.

“He used that art to help stabilize me while I was at Wilcox waiting on the Medivac,” Lisa said. “That helped tremendously because when we finally got to Kapiolani, they weren’t even considering the possibility of saving Zoe. They were concentrating on saving the mom.”

Lisa and Ken had an opportunity to tell their story at the kickoff for the 2007 March of Dimes WalkAmerica yesterday morning at the Kukui Grove Mall.

Among those picking up their team packets, Diane Melchor of Macy’s said they’ll start out with a dozen forms and build from there.

“It’s hard because we’re stretched trying to man the store, but we’ll be participating because it’s a good cause. We’ve always done it because it’s for the community,” Melchor said.

David Moyles, the Kaua‘i WalkAmerica coordinator, said the actual walk will take place on April 7, starting and ending at the Lydgate Park main pavilion. The walk, described by Moyles as light and casual, will follow the pedestrian/bike path to the Kamalani Bridge and back starting at 8 a.m.

Moyles said they anticipate about 300 people taking part in the annual fundraiser and awareness event, but would like to see 1,000 people turn out.

Nancy Phillion, the chair for the Kaua‘i March of Dimes, said Mark’s Place is a co-sponsor of the event.

Joe Fontanilla stopped by on his way to work to pick up a packet for the team from the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, and Cathy Agoot from the county of Kaua‘i, called in to notify her office that she would be a little late because of her involvement with the WalkAmerica event.

Agoot, who has been participating in the event for 13 years, said she became involved at the urging of then-mayor Maryanne Kusaka who was an advocate of the program.

The March of Dimes’ mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing and finding causes for birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

During an average week, there are 348 babies born in Hawai‘i. Of those, 42 are premature, 28 suffer from birth defects and three die before reaching first birthdays.

“I’ve done all the other walks,” Lisa said. “This will be the first time I’m doing the WalkAmerica.”

She said Zoe’s experience made her realize how this brought the families and community together.

“This is a good cause to advocate,” Lisa said. “I never knew any of the symptoms. If I had known, maybe I would have been more prepared.”

“If we can avoid at least one family from going through what we went through, it will all be worth it.”

For more information on joining the walk for healthy babies, call 800-272-5240.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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