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Miracle baby moves on

Ellery Case was born seven weeks early with life-threatening complications and given only a 5% chance to live. Her mother, Heidi, who grew up in River Falls, says: "Miraculously, Ellery is here today. She's a beautiful, happy and healthy 15-month little girl. She has battle wounds to show for her rough start, and a 44-day hospital stay, but she is a true miracle."

Heidi's parents are Mark and Crystal Larsen of River Falls. Heidi graduated from UW-River Falls in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in finance.

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

"She was born fighting," said Heidi, a 1998 River Falls High School graduate, who's now raising a family in Woodbury, Minn. "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 were recently named ambassadors for the area March of Dimes organization that raises money to help families with prematurely born infants.

After a whirlwind few months of doctors visits and diagnoses, Ellery's family became actively involved with the March of Dimes.

Last year they took part in the St. Paul March for Babies walk and raised more than $6,000. That made Ellery the top fundraiser for the event held at Lake Phalen.

This year the Case family has been named the ambassadors for the April 25 St. Paul March for Babies walk.

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

Ellery was born with a rare condition called non-immune hydrops fetalis. She had an abnormal collection of fluid (edema) in at least two body compartments. Hydrops has a mortality rate of 98%.

But Ellery beat those terrible odds and has been dubbed by her medical staff as "a miracle baby." She received a clean bill of health last February.

Today, at 16 months old, she shows no evident signs of the ordeal she went through, with the exception of motor delay.

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

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

Heidi said her daughter's lack of movement could be attributed to her extreme sickness in the first four months of life that had her 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."

The 3.25-mile St. Paul March for Babies walk is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, April 25, around Lake Phalen.

For more information or to donate visit the Cases' March for Babies page at