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BY JAIME NOLAN (Co-Chair with Kristy Heer of the tenth annual Saving Grace - A Night of Hope benefit to be held in Minneapolis on September 12, 2014)


Baby Grace with her parents in 2004

Ten years ago I was 25 weeks pregnant with my first child and had nothing but hopes and dreams for a future with my newborn. Little did I know what was going to happen within a matter of weeks and that my entire life would be turned upside down. 


On the morning of February 20, 2004, I was finally feeling better after a weeklong bout with a urinary tract infection, and I was looking forward to getting back on my feet. Later that evening, however, I developed a sudden and very severe headache, and within minutes I started vomiting. My husband and I thought it was just part of being pregnant, but since I was throwing up so much, we thought I should be examined to make sure the baby was okay. What happened over the next 48 hours changed my life forever. With doctors rushing around me, I was put on a magnesium sulfate drip and rushed by ambulance to another hospital that had a Level 3 NICU. My blood pressure skyrocketed, and I was in and out of consciousness. On Sunday, February 22, at 6:30 pm, I had an emergency C-section to deliver our baby girl at 26 weeks gestation. She weighed only one pound, eleven ounces. We named her Grace. 


Grace was a fighter. She remained healthy in the NICU for eight days, while I fought for my life in ICU. Within a day of my release from the hospital, Grace developed an infection in the NICU and was simply too small to fight it off. She passed away on March 2, 2004, at the age of eight days, twelve hours and 35 minutes. 


The next few days were surreal as I had to go through the motions of preparing to now bury my baby girl who wasn't even supposed to be born yet. All my hopes and dreams for the future were gone. I couldn't believe it. But on the morning of her funeral, I woke up and looked at her picture on my wall, and I suddenly knew with everything in me that the purpose of her life would not end with her death. 


After a few months passed, I found the Preeclampsia Foundation online. It was a relatively young organization but the fact that I could connect with other women who had experienced my loss was life-saving for me. My husband and I agreed we wanted to host a fundraiser in Grace's memory to help raise money for the Foundation, so that other women could receive the education they need to help prevent a similar loss. With the help of friends and family, the inaugural Saving Grace - A Night of Hope benefit was held in Minneapolis in October 2005. We raised a net total of just over $50,000. We were thrilled.


Little did we know that the event would become a signature event for the Foundation. Over the past nine years, Saving Grace - A Night of Hope has raised $1.2 million for education and awareness of preeclampsia. This year, 2014, marks ten years since Grace's birth, and will be the tenth annual Saving Grace - A Night of Hope gala. 


As you are making plans to participate in and support the Promise Walk for PreeclampsiaTM this May, also make plans to join us on Friday, September 12, 2014, for the tenth annual Saving Grace - A Night of Hope. The benefit will return to Minneapolis to honor its origin, and we will celebrate the many hundreds of thousands of lives impacted by the Foundation worldwide, as a result of the money raised through the gala over the years. This truly will be a milestone for the Foundation and an amazing tribute to how one life, no matter how short, can impact so many others.


Our Illustrated Preeclampsia Symptoms Tear Pad has been officially included in the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) toolkit, which was announced by CMQCC on January 16, to inform expectant mothers about the life-threatening disorder of preeclampsia. 


Within the first week of the toolkit's availability for download on the CMQCC website, it was downloaded over 700 times by healthcare providers across the US and will be used by hundreds of hospitals and other healthcare centers in California.


Preeclampsia is the second leading cause of maternal death in California, a state which has a half a million births per year. The state's data analysis found that maternal deaths due to preeclampsia have a good to strong chance of preventability if appropriate medical treatment begins in time. 


The Preeclampsia Foundation's Illustrated Preeclampsia Symptoms Tear Pad is a patient education tool that was developed in collaboration with health services researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Ill. The tool effectively informs pregnant women, even those with potentially poor literacy, about preeclampsia in a way that allows them to assimilate and retain the knowledge. They are therefore more likely to promptly seek medical attention should they have any of the symptoms.


Tear Pad Research Results


"It is not too late in the season to get a flu shot. If you're pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, do it!" said Dr. William Callaghan, Chief, Maternal and Infant Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   


Many women are concerned about having any drugs or vaccinations introduced into their bodies during pregnancy. With influenza widespread in the US this season, we want you to know that science-based evidence indicates influenza vaccine is safe during pregnancy. It has no bearing on preeclampsia.


On January 19, 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US recommended the flu shot be a priority for pregnant women because studies and history have shown they are at a higher risk for flu-related hospitalizations and death compared with non-pregnant women. The CDC also reported that vaccination reduced the risk of pregnant women getting the flu by half from 2010 to 2012. 


"Influenza activity is widespread in most of the United States at this time and is likely to continue for the next several weeks at least, but it's not too late for pregnant women to get vaccinated and still benefit from the protection the flu vaccine can provide," the CDC said. "Vaccination not only protects the pregnant mother from flu and its complications, but also has been shown to provide some immunity to the newborn child during the first six months of their lives."


Babies from preeclampsia-complicated pregnancies are often especially vulnerable due to prematurity or growth restriction. 

What does this mean for you?

Tiffany Sergis has joined the Foundation staff as the Operations Coordinator and will coordinate a multitude of projects in support of the Foundation's education and outreach mission areas, as well as ensuring operational excellence. 


Tiffany has worked in the independent education and development industry for ten years, serving as a Director of Communications and, before that, as Executive Assistant to the Headmaster of the premier independent (PS-12) school in Brevard County, Florida, where her duties ranged from admissions to advancement, working across all of the institution's departments.  


She earned her bachelors of professional studies from Barry University. Tiffany has been actively involved in her community through church and local non-profit organizations.    

She is dedicated to raising awareness and meeting the needs of women and children. Tiffany is married, and she and her husband have two daughters.

JANUARY 31, 2014

The 2014 season is here! Register your team today at
for a walk near you!


The Preeclampsia RegistryTM is moving forward very nicely with 486 participants now enrolled! With the desire to educate and raise awareness of our research efforts, we posted information about The Preeclampsia Registry on in December 2013. is a Web-based resource that provides patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies and registries. The Registry's listing contains detailed information about its objectives, eligibility, and procedures. For information about The Preeclampsia RegistryTM, visit



Our 10th Anniversary
Saving Grace - A Night of Hope
Friday, September 12, 2014
at The Depot
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mission Moment  
"I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at my 36 week appointment... I made it to 36 weeks and 6 days before I had an eclamptic seizure and was rushed into a C-section. I did not hear my baby's first cries or hold her for 24 hours... I am grateful you are fighting against this disease that my doctor calls the last crippling leg in obstetrics..."


~ K.W. Tolbert, Facebook
Upcoming Activities

New Orleans, LA
February 2-8, 2014

Erin Briska Fund Raising Event
Rock 'n' Roll USA Half Marathon
Washington, DC
March 15, 2014 
Florence, Italy
March 26-29, 2014
Chicago, IL
April 26-30, 2014
Toronto, CAN
May 14-18, 2014

Orlando, FL
June 14-18, 2014 

Minneapolis, MN
September 12, 2014

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