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Local couple works to help others with premature babies

"We've been there, so we know what it's like and if they can reach out for help, that a helping hand will be there for them."

A couple who lost their baby a few years ago, has not given up their mission to keep other parents from going through the same grief.

Now they are turning to city leaders to help prevent the high premature birth rate in New Orleans.

It was three years ago when Kimberly and Aaron Novod shared their life changing news with us.

"I was in love the moment I found out I was pregnant," Kimberly Novod told us in 2015.

An ultra sound revealed it was a boy. They chose the name Saul.

"It means 'prayed for' and 'asked for' which was very fitting because we were first time parents. We were very excited. We wanted a boy," she remembers.

But Saul was born a preemie, weighing only two and a half pounds. After 20 days in the NICU, his little body could no longer hold on.

"To be with your child and never know if today is going to be the last day, is not something you can imagine," Kimberly said.

In their grief, the young couple started Saul's Light Foundation, donating a Moses Basket and CuddleCot to East Jefferson General Hospital. It helps preserve the baby who is gone, giving grieving parents and family precious moments to say good-bye, and take pictures to hold for a lifetime, in their otherwise empty arms.

Monday, three years later, Kimberly and Aaron have their arms full with 16-month-old Josephine. They say she is a blessing who is helping to heal hearts. But Saul's Light Foundation is not slowing down.

They've teamed up with many other groups as part of the Maternal and Child Health Coalition, advocating for policies that help prevent the loss they went through.

"Asking that, you know, New Orleans has an office that's dedicate to addressing health disparities as it relates to birth outcomes for the mothers and babies in our community," said Kimberly.

"In every district in Orleans Parish, the number of babies born preterm, or with low birth weight, exceeds the national average," explained Tulane's Dr. Anna Mitchell Mahoney, the Administrative Assistant Professor of Women's Political Leadership at Newcomb College Institute and Director of Research.

Tulane and Newcomb College Institute researchers are part of the coalition. The group is asking city leaders and the health department to strengthen the Healthy Start program, and bring back some of the support that never came back after Hurricane Katrina, to help at risk mothers.

"And her personal story really made an impact with city council members, and we hope that will make a big difference when the budget season comes up," said Dr. Mahoney about Novod, the day the group spoke about their cause at a public hearing to the New Orleans City Council.

Josephine will always know there was a big brother who came before her, that he was loved and wanted and still has a place in the family. And Kimberly wants other parents who lost, to ask for help during the holiday season.

"We've been there, so we know what it's like and if they can reach out for help, that a helping hand will be there for them," she said.

If you'd like to donate to Saul's Light Foundation or need information or support, or want to learn more about the coalition, click here.

Donations to Saul's Light can be made by going to the website and clicking the donate button in the upper-right hand corner or by clicking here.

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