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FG son lobbies for families with sick kids


Mark Schneider honors daughter Kiran, who was born with a life-threatening defect last holiday season

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Navy Lt. Mark Schneider, a 1998 graduate of Forest Grove High School, holds his daughter Kiran, who was born with omphalocele. Schneider is a member of a council that helps other families whose children are facing serious illnesses.A month ago, Kiran Victoria Schneider celebrated her first birthday with cake and presents in her family’s East Coast home. But that happy milestone for the youngest daughter of Forest Grove High School alumnus Mark Schneider — now a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy — was anything but ordinary.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, Kiran was in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of the Kings’ Daughters in Norfolk, Va., fighting for her life. In the weeks before her birth by Caesarean section on Nov. 14, 2012, doctors discovered the baby suffered from a congenital birth defect called omphalocele, a condition seen in about 1 out of 5,000 live births that causes the intestines to form outside the body.

Surgery was Kiran’s only hope — and after coming through the initial operation and a long recovery that included a second hospitalization, she’s thriving today.

“She’s doing absolutely amazing,” said Schneider, a member of the FGHS Class of 1998, who has strong ties to western Washington County. His father, Rick Schneider, is a former lieutenant at Forest Grove Fire & Rescue; his uncle, Fred Marble, is a member of the Forest Grove School Board; and his grandfather, Ivan Marble, was the longtime pastor of Gales Creek Community Church.

“I have lots of uncles, aunts and cousins who still live in the Forest Grove area,” said Schneider, who’s assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in Newport News, Va.

In his quest to stay strong for his wife, Ashley, their baby daughter and four other children, Schneider, 33, found a vehicle for expressing his gratitude for Kiran’s good health: helping other families with seriously ill children at Children’s Hospital during the holiday season.by: COURTESY PHOTO - Kiran Victoria Schneider celebrated her first birthday with cake and plenty of smiles at her parents home in Virginia.

He’s been appointed to CHKD’s Family Advisory Council, which guides policy for the facility’s neonatal intensive care unit — where Kiran spent four touch-and-go weeks that included a pair of operations, three blood transfusions and round-the-clock care.

Through the advisory council, Schneider is locating families with whom he can share his personal story and talk about how to cope with the grave illness of a child.

The Schneiders’ daughter — nicknamed “Special K” — spent several days as the “sickest kid in the hospital” last November, Mark said: Kiran was on an oscillator after her lungs collapsed due to post-surgical swelling.

Their roller-coaster experience of pain, fear and hope is something they’d like to help other families navigate.

“I wanted to help those who are hurting the way my family hurt one year ago,” said Schneider.

Last Thursday, the Schneiders, Kiran and two of her siblings went back to Children’s Hospital for a special post-birthday celebration with the medical staff that cared for her during the long days and nights of her time in the NICU. They presented hospital officials with a check for $2,000 — money raised over the last 12 months through a Facebook page called Kiran Schneider Support — to help defray the medical costs of families whose insurance doesn’t stretch as far as Schneider’s.

“Kiran’s hospital bill was something around $330,000, but because we have great insurance, the cost to us was minimal,” said Schneider.

After he transfers to his new duty station in Newport News, Va., in January, Schneider plans to continue his volunteer work at CHKD.

“I coped by keeping a journal in the form of a letter to my daughter,” he said. It’s a suggestion he’ll give to families struggling with a variety of emotions while their child is in the hospital.

“For about three days during Kiran’s recovery, as I drove into the hospital each morning to visit, my mind was on final planning — I expected the worst,” he said, adding that he’d like to “do something positive for families experiencing similar situations.”