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Conor’s Run: And A Child Has Led ThemBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, September 12, 2005
Williamstown – His life was brief, but for fifth consecutive year, Conor Archibald’s memory has lifted hundreds of individuals to their feet.
|Dr. Julian E. De Lia and Bernadette Archibald at a Sept. 10 Conor's Run.|
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A Sept. 10 Conor’s Run brought about 321 people of all ages to Poker Flats for their choice of a 1k or a 5k trek to raise awareness of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and money for the Twin-Twin Transfusion Foundation.
This year’s run generated about $10,000, said event treasurer Linda Collyer and Madeline Levy, an event volunteer.
The event was founded in 2001 by Conor’s parents, Bernadette and David Archibald.
[Sept. 12 Update: Over $14,000 was generated by Conor's Run, according to information provided earlier today by David Archibald. Information provided on Sept. 11 was an estimate.]
A Bittersweet Day
Experiencing such continuing and strong support for her family and her son’s memory is heartwarming and greatly appreciated, said Bernadette Archibald during a post-run interview.
But knowing that a pre-delivery diagnosis and medical intervention might have changed Conor’s fate continues to spark a mix of emotions, emotions that other parents may escape because of the awareness the event has generated, she said.
From left, Pat Burke, David Archibald, and Fern Murtagh at the Conor's Run finish line.
“[The run] does help me,” Archibald said. “But this is still a bittersweet day. When I see the healthy twins and I think ‘that could’ve been me.’ There will always be gaps; starting kindergarten, high school graduation. But knowing I can turn this for people – and I do it for Conor- that gets me over the humps. Conor was very special.”
Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome
Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome is a disease of the placenta that strikes about 10 percent of all identical twin pregnancies, according to information offered by the International Institute for the Treatment of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Over 7,000 infants and about 3,500 pregnancies are affected each year in the United States. According to several Internet web sites and printed information made available during the run, the condition occurs in situations involving twins [or multiples such as triplets] that share a placenta which contains blood vessels connecting the babies. TTS results when the blood flow becomes uneven and causes one baby to get too much blood, while the other may receive too little blood.
As one baby loses blood, less urine is produced and the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby decreases. As the other baby receives more blood, that baby can produce increased amounts of urine, which results in a rapid accumulation of fluids.
One or both babies may die in utero, at birth, or years later because of TTS-related complications, according to the information.
“The tragedy is that these babies are normal,” according to international institute information. “The problem is in the placenta.”
The death rate for twins who develop TTS at the mid-pregnancy point may be as high as 80 to 100 percent, according to the information.
TTS effects can differ in severity from situation to situation, depending on at what point in a pregnancy the condition develops, when it is diagnosed, and the selected treatment. Pregnant women may experience indications of TTS. Excessive weight gain, sudden womb growth and severe swelling and severe pain may be symptoms. The condition may not generate specific symptoms and may be diagnosed during prenatal ultrasound procedures, according to information published by the international institute.
Alexandra Nolan,15, and Alaina Sanderson,16, served as run volunteers.
Archibald did experience several TTS symptoms during her pregnancy, but the condition went undiagnosed until the twins were born. Conor suffered a brain hemorrhage very soon after the infants were delivered through a cesarean section; he was subsequently diagnosed as being cortically blind and deaf and with cerebral palsy.
Conor died on New Year’s Day 2001, just a few weeks before he would have celebrated his fourth birthday with twin brother Patrick Archibald. Patrick also battled health problems and was hospitalized for three months, but was able to recover and is now a typical eight-year-old boy.
From Williamstown and Beyond
Families affected by Twin to Twin Syndrome and whose twins survived after successful treatment attended the event from regions including Dracut, Mass., Queens, N.Y., and the Connecticut town of Granby.
Dr. Julian E. De Lia, medical director of the international TTS institute, attended the event. De Lia developed a laser procedure that is performed in utero with a goal of correcting the problem.
Rosana Zarza, 15, of Williamstown, has joined Conor’s Run since it began.
“I do it because my very good friend is Erin Archibald and this honors her brother,” Rosana said.
Beth Johnson of Williamstown is also a run veteran.
Twin brothers Sam and Jake Kobrin, 8, participated during Conor's Run
“I think this is a great thing,” she said of the event. “It’s grown so much and it’s great for the community.”
Patty Gonzalez said that she travels from New Jersey for the run. Bernadette Archibald and Gonzalez were high school friends, Gonzalez said.
“I come every year,” she said. “[Bernadette] gives me information about TTS and I put it around in my town.”
In 2004, Conor’s Run was chosen as the Angel Charity of the Year by Xuppa. The award brought $5,000 to the run and $10,000 for advertising that promoted TTS awareness. Additionally, proceeds generated by an awards event held at Baruch College were slated to benefit the run.
Top Run Finishes
A Conor's Run participant stretches before the start of the Sept. 10 event.
Top three winners of the 5k race, mens category were:
First: Kent Lemme
Second: Donald Pacher
Third: Michael Fairhurst
Women’s 5k top two finishers were:
Second: Jessica Storey
Third: Erica Hayden
Top three 1k finishers in the men’s category were:
First: Jordan Turboly
Second: Nate Nurmi
Third: Luke Costley
The 1k women’s top three finishers were:
First: Erin Archibald
Second: Josie Verter
Third: Jane Culnane
Information about Conor’s Run is available at the www.conorsrun.org. Internet web site.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-823-9367. A multi-photograph Conor’s Run slideshow will be posted at www.iberkshires.com during the upcoming week.