FDNY firefighter to run NYC marathon for stillborn daughter

February 7, 2017
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By Gina Daidone and Shawn Cohen

Donohue, 37, is competing in memory of his stillborn daughter, Jane, in the hopes he raises awareness about stillbirth and encourages discussion of it.

“I want people to ask. I want to talk about my daughter,’’ Donohue recently told The Post.

During the marathon, Donohue will use Facebook Live on his phone to video himself and share his message. At each mile, he will recite a stillbirth fact and announce the name of a stillborn baby from a list he has collected from families in the New York City area. At mile 26, he’ll recite Jane’s name.

People can follow his journey on social media with the hashtag MarksMiles4Babies.

“My mission is to bring [stillbirth] to the forefront,” he said. “One of the biggest issues that women and families faces is the silence.”

FDNY Lieutenant Mark Donohue

Stillbirth is typically defined as the death of a baby in utero at five months of pregnancy or later. An estimated 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States each year.

His wife, Amanda, was 38 weeks pregnant in February 2015 when she stopped feeling the baby moving and went to the hospital.

Donohue, who lives in Rockville Centre and now works in Queens, was at work when he got the call from his wife that their daughter had no heartbeat.

“We’d done a couple of night tours, so I didn’t check my phone,” he said. “I noticed like 12 missed calls. I saw the calls and knew something was wrong.”

Fighting back tears, he recalled what happened at the hospital.

“You know the baby isn’t alive, but [my wife] still had to deliver,” he said. “It was a breached birth, to make things more difficult. Even though you know the situation, you still hope she’ll come out breathing.”

Doctors later determined Jane died from undetected blood clots. In many cases, a stillbirth is sudden and unexplained. Many stillbirths occur in women with seemingly healthy pregnancies and no history of medical problems.

‘We talk about Jane in our house, with our daughters, and it’s comforting for us. Jane was a part of our family.’

Before Jane, the Donohues had two daughters with no complications.

In their grief, the couple connected with the Star Legacy Foundation, a small non-profit based in Minnesota that focuses on stillbirth education, research and family support.

“They created tremendous outreach with not a lot of money,” he said. “They were affecting peoples lives in really positive ways.”

Inspired, Amanda and Mark helped form the New York Metro Chapter of the foundation in July 2015 and raise more than $137,000 from two 5K races last year.

He hopes his marathon will bring attention to Star Legacy’s efforts and encourage other people to talk about the babies they have lost.

“We talk about Jane in our house, with our daughters, and it’s comforting for us. Jane was a part of our family. Yes, we get upset, we get sad, but talking helps,” he said.

But there is happiness ahead — the family plans to welcome a baby boy in December

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