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    A most special session

    By LUCY MORGAN, Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 10, 2003

    TALLAHASSEE -- As the final hectic weeks of the legislative session unfold, state Rep. Loranne Ausley is juggling committee meetings at the Capitol with visits to the hospital to see her newborn.

    She doesn't mind a bit.

    Her son, Will, weighed just 1.3 pounds when he was born on Jan. 28, more than four months premature.

    Ausley, D-Tallahassee, considers him a miracle.

    At birth, doctors gave Will a 10 percent chance to live. His parents weren't even allowed to hold him until he was almost a month old, still under a pound and a half.

    At 1 month, Will was so tiny, his dad's wedding ring fit around his leg easily. He couldn't even cry until he was taken off a ventilator at the end of March.

    "Something as simple as having heard him cry took eight weeks, but it's the most wonderful sound I've ever heard," Ausley said.

    Will now weighs about 2 pounds, 12 ounces and is breathing without a ventilator at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. There are no signs of brain problems common to many premature babies, and his other organs appear to be functioning. He had successful heart surgery when he was eight days old.

    "Those first days, every hour was a blessing," Ausley said.

    He is not out of the woods yet. Such small babies are at high risk for infections and lung problems.

    Ausley credits Will's progress to prayer and good doctors. Will's physician is Dr. Todd Patterson, a neonatal specialist who lost a bid for the Legislature in 2000. His opponent: Loranne Ausley.

    "I wouldn't have anyone else," Ausley said. "He really cares about those babies."

    Will won't go home until late May or June.

    Meanwhile, mom is organizing "Walking for Will," when 187 friends and family members join Saturday's March of Dimes Walk for America to raise money for research and treatment of premature babies. She credits their work with finding many of the answers that have helped Will survive and expects to raise around $5,000 for the cause.

    Will, born William Dubose Ausley Holliman, is the first grandson of Dubose "Duby" Ausley, a widely known Tallahassee lawyer and former chairman of the Board of Regents.

    "It is absolutely a miracle that Will has survived and is doing so well," the older Ausley said. "Every day is a little miracle. Ten weeks and he's not supposed to have been born for another eight weeks."

    Ausley, 39, waited a long time for her first child. Will resulted from her second attempt at in vitro fertilization; a miscarriage followed the first.

    "I was fully prepared to spend the session in the hospital," Ausley recalled. Five days later Will was born. "He wanted to be here," she said.

    Ausley said she and her husband take each day at time, marveling at every milestone.

    "I hate to get too far ahead of myself," she said, "but he is progressing very well and we have every hope that he'll live a normal life with a lot of love and faith."

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    From the Times state desk