NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This year’s March of Dimes mission ambassador for the New York division is a 2-year-old girl from Westchester who was born weighing just over two pounds.

Daphne Hood was born nearly 14 weeks premature and was hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital for 133 days.

“We were parents and we were totally in love with our daughter,” said father Chris Hood. “All the wires and the tubes and you can’t just pick up your baby.”

Dad and mom, Grete Doctoroff, are grateful for the doctors, nurses and March of Dimes, whose research led to the therapies that not only enabled Daphne to survive, but to thrive, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

Hood said “it’s dangerous when kids are born early, but one of the sort of shocking things is that being born at 26 and 1/2 weeks, she actually was sort of a ‘normal preemie'” thanks to advances made by the organization.

Doctoroff said surfactant therapy was a huge help.

“She got those meds on board which really helped her lung development,” Doctoroff said.

Today, Daphne is a bright and curious toddler and her parents are eager to share their story.

“For people to understand more about the journey of prematurity I think is important because there’s plenty to be aware of and I think how we take care of our babies is important to everyone as a society,” Doctoroff said.

Thousands are expected to take part in this Sunday’s annual March of Dimes March for Babies.

CBS 2, WLNY 10/55, WCBS News Radio 880, WFAN Sports Radio 66/101.9 FM, WCBS FM 101.1 and Fresh 102.7 are proud sponsors of March for Babies.

Nearly 500,000 families are effected by prematurity each year in the United States. Premature birth is still the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive may have lifelong health problems.

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