Why We Run — Glen Van Dusen

When Glen Van Dusen decided to run a half-marathon, he had no idea how connected he would become with Every Mother Counts.
Glen Van Dusen, a 37-year-old sports enthusiast and media sales manager who lives in Jersey City, is expecting his first baby with his wife, Terri. We asked Glen our favorite question of the season.

Glen, why do you run?

I love all sports and I belong to a soccer team with some friends here in the city. I used to run track and every now and then I do a run or some cross-training event like Tough Mudder. Running the Hampton’s Half Marathon was a first for me. My friend was looking for a charity to run for. He mentioned on Facebook that he was starting to train for the Hampton’s Half Marathon. I’d never done a half-marathon before, but I love to set goals like that. I rolled over in bed one morning and said to my wife, I think I want to run a marathon.

How did you get connected with EMC?

I’d never had heard of EMC before signing up for this run. My friend has a baby on the way as well and his wife is due about two weeks before us so he said, “Hey, look at this charity.” We checked out the website and signed up.” We thought it would make for a good story, two first-time fathers-to-be doing a run for a good cause. We raised a fair amount of money through friends and family and little did we know it would get very personal for my wife and myself.

How long did you train?

Only about five or six weeks. I run all the time and play all kinds of sports, like pickup basketball. It’s funny because I’d joined the gym around the corner from my apartment and was training to get the times right and to increase my stamina. I was up to about the 10 or 11-mile stretch of my training and all of a sudden, my wife developed complications in her pregnancy and we had to go to the hospital. That kind of sidetracked my training.

Tell me about Terri’s pregnancy complication.

My wife was 39 years old so we didn’t know if we were going to have the opportunity to have a child. First we were shocked and then elated. She’s very healthy, but because of Terri’s age, we had a few extra scans done. That’s when we discovered she had placenta previa where the placenta grows across or too near the cervix. That resolved itself over time and everything seemed fine. At the last session, the technician doing the scan said, “Great, the placenta is in a normal position now, but just a second.” She left the room and came back with the doctor who told us to come sit in his office. That was a kick to the stomach until we were able to calm down and figure out what was really going on.

And what was going on?

It’s a fairly rare condition called Vasa Previa*. I’d never heard of it. We were afraid to research it because we didn’t want to read any horror stories but you have to get educated.

That’s a rare complication. You’re really lucky it was caught.

Yeah. We’re in good hands and extremely lucky to be here in New York City where we have so many options. In so many parts of the world, there are zero options and here we have three or four great hospitals and a number of great doctors to choose from who can take care of us. My wife and I went to Tanzania for our honeymoon so we have first hand knowledge of what life is like and how little there is out there for some cultures. Believe me, even before we were pregnant, the disparity between healthcare in developing countries and what we have available to us here didn’t go unnoticed. We feel overwhelmed and we’re aware that this condition is dangerous enough that things could happen very fast. We’re fortunate though because my wife is already in the hospital and she and our baby are being closely monitored. She’s 33 weeks now and the baby’s very healthy. The plan is to deliver in two more weeks as long as nothing goes wrong in the meantime.

It’s fortuitous or coincidental that we popped into your life at a time when you were experiencing your own maternal health crisis.

I’ve been involved with a lot of charities, but nothing that’s really stood out on a grander scale like Every Mother Counts and nothing that’s connected so directly.

I’m looking forward to getting more involved.

Keep us posted on how you, Terri and your baby are doing and thanks for being part of Team-EMC.

Vasa previa is a rarely reported condition in which exposed fetal [blood] vessels traverse the amniotic membranes between the baby’s presenting part and the internal cervical os [opening], unprotected by placental tissue or umbilical cord. The incidence of vasa previa has been estimated at 1 in 2500 births, although it has been reported to vary between 1:513 and 1:6000 in naturally conceived pregnancies, and as high as 1:293 in IVF-assisted pregnancies. The condition has a high fetal mortality rate (50–95%) when undiagnosed prenatally. This can be attributed to rapid fetal exsanguination [hemorrhage] resulting from the vessels tearing when the cervix dilates, membranes rupture or if the vessels become pinched off as they are compressed between the baby and the walls of the birth canal.

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