From heartbreak to hope: One couple’s search for answers with March of Dimes
The Martins know about loss. And hope.
While they were falling in love, Dana and Shannon Martin talked often of the family they’d always dreamed of. But unfortunately, the couple experienced unexplained pregnancy loss after loss, suffering seven prenatal losses in a short period of time, including two while they were living in a home that had been critically poisoning them with carbon monoxide.
The Martins refused to give up. During their recovery from the carbon monoxide, they researched fertility, genetics, and environmental factors that could disrupt a healthy pregnancy. Though they were inundated with search results, they discerned quickly that no organizations— public or private—had the answers.
And yet, they said, it was obvious March of Dimes was committed to finding them—they were asking the right questions, investing money into promising ventures and translational research, and operating from a rich legacy in fighting for maternal and infant health.
Shannon and Dana had questions: Why were they experiencing these recurring pregnancy losses? Could Shannon carry a baby to term? How would the carbon monoxide poisoning affect their pregnancy journey going forward?
And most importantly, could Shannon and Dana volunteer their time and resources to help solve these puzzling reproductive and prenatal questions?
So in 2021, they sent March of Dimes an email. And they heard right back.
“Once we found out that March of Dimes was doing a lot of work in this field, it was pretty clear we had to be involved,” Shannon said. “And after we sent an email expressing a desire to support some of these efforts, we realized we could be of service in the March of Dimes Innovation Fund and with the Prematurity Research Centers (PRCs).”
“So we just dove right in.”
Since then, the Martins, who are entrepreneurs focusing on technology and real estate, have made two significant donations to March of Dimes.
One gift has started a new PRC exploratory research theme into Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL), which is characterized as having two or more pregnancy losses in a row, with a focus on environmental factors like carbon monoxide poisoning.
Another gift is supporting the March of Dimes Innovation Fund, a new organizational initiative that invests in early stage ventures focused on finding diagnostic and therapeutic solutions to the maternal and infant health crisis.
The couple sits on the Innovation Fund’s Investment Committee, where they work with other volunteers with medical, scientific, and financial expertise to review potential startup companies in which March of Dimes can invest. They also provide guidance on strategy, process, venture market insights, and more.
“From the Innovation Fund to the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss research March of Dimes scientists are working on, we are incredibly hopeful we can move the needle on maternal health and infant care,” the Martins said. “Every day, we feel optimistic March of Dimes can provide not just answers, but solutions to families like ours.