Kelley Benham, Times Staff Writer

Kelley Benham

Kelley Benham has been a writer and editor at the Tampa Bay Times since 2003.

She grew up in Clearwater and earned journalism degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Maryland. She covered Tarpon Springs and Largo for the Times, then became a general assignment feature writer. She has reported from the delivery room and the death chamber, and from at least five strip clubs in two states. She is the winner of numerous awards for her work, including the Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing, the National Headliner Award, the Green Eyeshade Award and the American Association of Sunday and Feature Writers awards for general feature and short feature. As Enterprise Editor, she edited two series that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize: "Winter's Tale" in 2009 and "For Their Own Good" in 2010.

She is married to former Times journalist Thomas French, who won the Pulitzer Prize for "Angels and Demons" in 1998.

Phone: (727) 893-8848

Email: benham@tampabay.com

Twitter: @KelleyBFrench

  1. The parental consent dilemma: Saving extremely premature babies by signing forms

    Perspective

    Our baby was dying a half-dozen ways. She was born in the 23rd week of pregnancy weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces. Twiggy and translucent, her body heaved along with the mechanical whooshing of a ventilator that kept her alive while battering her lungs. No matter what the doctors did, she would probably end up dead or broken.

    In the 196 days we sat by her bedside at All Children's Hospital, we signed consent forms allowing nurses to shove tubes down her throat and slip IVs into her thready veins. We consented to central lines that carry an overwhelming infection risk. We consented to chest tubes, blood transfusions and an operation so risky the surgeon fully expected it to kill her....

    Here’s my baby, hours after birth, needing everything medical science could do for her. All babies born so prematurely are experiments, surviving by art and science.
  2. About this story

    Human Interest

    All of my recollections in this story have been verified with the people involved, with photos and video taken at the time, and with 7,000 pages of medical records. I also relied on my own journal entries and notes taken by my husband, Thomas French, a journalist and author.

    To supplement my understanding of extreme prematurity, I interviewed doctors, bioethicists and epidemiologists, talked to other parents of micropreemies, and read dozens of journal articles and books. Dr. John Lantos, director of the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center in Kansas City, helped shape many of the ideas in this series. His book, Neonatal bioethics: The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation, was an invaluable resource....

  3. Lazaro Arbos, featured in story about stuttering, becomes 'American Idol' sensation

    Pop Culture

    Martha Lopez-Anderson was in Seattle last week when she got a text about a boy she hadn't seen in years.

    . . . Lazaro Arbos . . .

    He's on American Idol!

    Martha had to read it twice.

    She grabbed her husband, Andy, and together they ran to their hotel room and turned on the television and, because of the time difference, sat on the bed and waited an hour. They waited through teasers and commercials and bickering judges and crooning weirdos....

    When he was 13, Lazaro Arbos received his SpeechEasy device, placed in his ear by Tampa speech therapist Janet Skotko.
  4. As weeks turn into months in NICU, micropreemie's parents wonder: What does a miracle look like?

    Medicine

    LAST OF THREE PARTS
    For more photos, illustrations and resources, visit tampabay.com/neverletgo.

    The surgeon sewed our baby shut. The neonatologist rose from her prayer rug. Then a nurse returned our tiny daughter to the quiet of her incubator, and we made our bargains with God....

    A LITTLE MAGIC: For Father’s Day, nurse Tracy Hullett surprised Tom by dressing Juniper as Harry Potter, with doll-sized tennis shoes, a handmade wizard robe and a taped-on lightning-bolt scar. Tom read to Juniper every day from the 4,000-page Harry Potter series. He insisted that Dobby the house elf was her favorite character. They did share a certain resemblance.
  5. About this story

    Human Interest

    All of my recollections in this story have been verified with the people involved, with photos and video taken at the time, and with medical records. I also relied on my own journal entries and notes taken by my husband, Thomas French, a journalist and author.

    To supplement my understanding of extreme prematurity, I interviewed doctors, bioethicists and epidemiologists, talked to other parents of micropreemies, and read dozens of journal articles and books. Dr. John Lantos, director of the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center in Kansas City, helped shape many of the ideas in this series. His book, Neonatal bioethics: The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation, was an invaluable resource....

  6. For micropreemie in NICU, each moment is a fight for existence

    Medicine

    Bent double, I shuffled down a winding corridor, trying to find my baby.

    Somewhere in this place my new daughter lay alone in a neonatal intensive care unit, struggling to breathe. I could feel the stabbing incision where they had cut her out of me two days before. That's how it felt — like there had been an assault, perhaps in an alley with a dull spoon. The doctors had been kind and correct, and they'd had no choice. But they might as well have taken my liver, or my heart....

    THE SURGEON: Pediatric surgeon Dr. Beth Walford, center, thought operating on Juniper was a long shot at best. The baby was so premature, the doctor worried that once she cut into the paper-thin skin, she would not be able to get it closed. Here, she does an appendectomy on another patient this fall.
  7. Never Let Go: About this story

    Features

    All of my recollections in this story have been verified with the people involved, with photos and video taken at the time, and with medical records. I also relied on my own journal entries and notes taken by my husband, Thomas French, a journalist and author.

    To supplement my understanding of extreme prematurity, I interviewed doctors, bioethicists and epidemiologists, talked to other parents of micropreemies, and read dozens of journal articles and books. Dr. John Lantos, director of the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center in Kansas City, helped shape many of the ideas in this series. His book Neonatal Bioethics: The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation was an invaluable resource. ...

  8. About this story

    Medicine

    All of my recollections in this story have been verified with the people involved, with photos and video taken at the time, and with medical records. I also relied on my own journal entries and notes taken by my husband, Thomas French, a journalist and author.

    To supplement my understanding of extreme prematurity, I interviewed doctors, bioethicists and epidemiologists, talked to other parents of micropreemies, and read dozens of journal articles and books. Dr. John Lantos, director of the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center in Kansas City, helped shape many of the ideas in this series. His book Neonatal Bioethics: The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation was an invaluable resource. ...

  9. Parents of micro preemie face heart-wrenching decisions

    Medicine

    Our baby came swirling into view in black and white, week after week, in the grainy wedge on the ultrasound monitor. First a dark featureless pool, then a tiny orb, then budding arms and legs and finally long fingers and a recognizable profile. Precisely on schedule, I felt her squirm and thump.

    After years of grueling and unnatural fertility treatments, the promise of her unfolded easily....

    DAY ONE: The doctors did what they could to delay my baby’s birth, but she arrived four months too soon. At 23 weeks’ gestation, she was so early our doctors would not insist on trying to save her. It might be kinder, we were told, to let her die. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces. We didn’t know if she would live even an hour.
  10. Wii bowling match: High school seniors vs. retirement home seniors

    Life Times

    This story originally appeared in tb-two*, a teen publication produced by the St. Petersburg Times. Those whippersnappers didn't think we'd see this story. But now you know the truth.

    This all started because Rachel Williams' grandma got a Wii, a video game system. Give a grandma a Wii, and you know there's going to be trouble. Sure enough, Rachel's grandma got a big head, then she started trash-talking, and then, well, that gave us an idea. • We'd find some other Rachel's grandmas, closer to home, and challenge them. We'd let them score a few points, keep it close enough to make it resemble a real competition. Then we'd all hug and get our pictures made and go home feeling warm and smug. • Enter the PBT Mighty Bombers from Philip Benjamin Tower, a retirement community in St. Petersburg. They took their Wii seriously. They'd just won a tournament. • They jumped at our challenge. We hoped we wouldn't beat them too badly. ...

  11. The downside to the Pulitzer Prize

    Human Interest

    On Monday, the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing was awarded for the second time in three years to Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post. Weingarten is a humor columnist whose work is published each week on Page 2 in Floridian. But the story that won the Pulitzer was a devastating look at parents who forgot their babies and toddlers in cars, causing their deaths, and the agonizing personal and legal trauma that followed. "Fatal Distraction" was excerpted in Floridian in March. • Weingarten led an online chat last week with washingtonpost.com readers. The beginning of that conversation is excerpted here. He describes, as only he can, what it's like to win journalism's highest prize. To read his winning work, go to pulitzer.org. Kelley Benham, Times staff writer...

    Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli, left, and Gene Weingarten are pictured in the newsroom Monday after the win.
  12. Test unlocks dog's DNA secrets

    Pets

    When PETCO introduced the Canine Heritage Breed Test ($69.99 to $119.99) in their stores this summer, we had to wonder: Can it really identify the breed of a dog? So we asked two of our staffers to try it out with their dogs. The tests are available in most Tampa Bay area stores as well as online at www.petco.com/dna.

    - - -

    Muppet came to us lacking history or pedigree, just another mutt at another high-kill shelter. ...

    Muppet, owner of the world's longest tongue, is pleased to be bailed out of the animal shelter and set loose in her new yard.