Suntree organization raises $250,000 to save babies


The Hissam family — Braden, Aran, Patrick and Ryan — poses at the fifth annual Brianna Marie Foundation 5K at Wickham Park.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy of April McCoy


Suntree residents Aran and Patrick Hissam want everyone to know that fetal surgeries are an option when parents receive a negative fetal diagnosis.

In 2012, the Hissams lost their daughter Brianna Marie just 15 hours after she was born with a condition called fetal hydrops — one that doctors in the field of fetal medicine are researching to correct through surgeries performed while a baby is in the womb.

After Brianna’s death, the Hissams knew they wanted to help others — and to look for ways to improve outcomes for other babies with negative fetal diagnoses. To date, the Brianna Marie Foundation has raised $250,000 to further fetal therapies, or surgeries and treatments that can be performed on babies before they are even born.

“This is an emerging field of medicine that’s so important to so many families, but it’s underfunded. We want to change that for babies and their families and give them the best shot at survival,” Aran Hissam said.

The money raised so far has had a tremendous impact on the field, directly boosting fetal therapy research at Harvard/Boston Children’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins University and the University College of London Institute for Women’s Health. Foundation funds also helped sponsor a fetal outcome trial that measured success of current fetal surgeries.

In addition to raising funds, the foundation has an outreach portion and offers education and information to families.

“One of the things that makes me proudest is being here for other parents that are going through the same thing that I did. I never want another parent to feel alone or helpless,” Aran Hissam said.

This year’s annual 5K fundraiser will be at 8 a.m. March 10 at Wickham Park. In addition to the race, children’s activities such as bounce houses and face painting will be offered.

For more information and to register, go to Enter VIERAVOICE at checkout for a 20 percent off discount through Feb. 28.