Viera mom fights tragedy with awareness


Aran and Patrick Hissam founded the Brianna Marie Foundation to raise funds for fetal therapy research. Photo by April McCoy

Brianna Marie Hissam’s fourth birthday will be celebrated a little early this year. She would have turned 4 on March 16 and hundreds of locals will run in her honor at the annual 5K that bears her name and raises funds for fetal therapy awareness. The Brianna Marie Foundation 5K will be held March 12 at Wickham Park. 

Brianna was diagnosed with fetal hydrops, a condition that prevents the lungs from developing correctly while a child is still in the womb. Despite surgeries to save her life, Brianna died just 15 hours after her birth. 

Since experiencing the loss, parents Aran and Patrick Hissam have made it their mission to educate their community, and beyond, about fetal conditions like Brianna’s and how early detection and knowledgeable doctors can help save lives. To date, the Brianna Marie Foundation has raised more than $145,000 and has helped fund specific research nationwide in a field that most people don’t even know exists.

“Fetal medicine receives virtually no funding, yet performs miracles on a daily basis,” Aran Hissam said. 

More than 90 percent of money raised through the 5K, other fundraising and sponsorships go directly to fetal therapy research. Recently, the first Brianna Marie Memorial Grant was awarded to Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy to purchase a 3D printer to better model what doctors may find when in-utero surgery is needed. 

“I would like to think of the Brianna Marie Foundation as a resource for any parent that is given a negative fetal diagnosis. We do not have all the answers, but we do have resources and experience that can help in many areas,” Hissam said.

Last year’s race saw 750 runners and already the Hissams are expecting many more this year. 

“Not only have we grown with individual attendees, but we have become an event that people look forward to each year — especially those that use the event as a way to honor and remember their lost child,” Hissam said.  “We have been blessed to live in an awesome community that is always willing to give to help others.” 

For more information and to register for the upcoming race, go to