West Side News

Hurd has personal stake in infant mortality fight

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Nathan Hurd said he can't help but wonder what if.

"You can't help but wonder what it would have been like if an organization like this had been created 10 years ago," the Grove City resident said. "It's bittersweet."

Earlier this week, Hurd, president and co-founder of Babywill.org, was among the dozens of community leaders, public health officials and others to join a high-level task force charged with developing and recommending a community plan to reduce the infant mortality rate in the Columbus area.

Hurd and his wife Michelle lost their son Will on July 31, 2009, to sudden infant death syndrome, when he went to sleep at a babysitter's house and never woke up.

Behind all the statistics about infant mortality, there's a family suffering, each with its own story, Hurd said.

"There are thousands of families in Franklin County and central Ohio who have lost a kid," he said. "I hope we can bring our story as one of thousands to the panel."

According to a press release from Columbus about the task force, the 2013 infant mortality rate in Columbus is as high as the national rate from the early 1990s. In addition, 13 percent of babies born in Franklin County are born premature, putting them at greater risks for other health problems.

"The data is staggering," Hurd said. "There is a whole class of people walking around you would never know are dealing with this heartache."

Hurd said when his family lost Will to SIDS, they felt there must have been a reason why it happened to them.

"That first week, we started reading, and it was appall- ing," Hurd said. "It felt like something we had to get more involved with. ... It felt like I was able to do something."

Hurd said addressing the issue starts with awareness and education, getting the word out about how devastating the problem is.

"I'm optimistic," Hurd said. "We will get this done. There's too much at stake."