A mother has started a mission to raise awareness in preventing infant death due to whooping cough.
“I don’t want any more babies to die from this disease or any disease that can be prevented too easily,” Catherine Hughes shared in a heartbreaking video just before she lost her son to whooping cough.
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Greg and Catherine Hughes, together with their daughter Olivia, welcomed their newest addition Riley last February 13, 2015, in their hometown of Perth, Australia.
Unfortunately, the joy of having a newborn in the family was short-lived when Riley started becoming extremely lethargic at just three weeks old.
His death came as a major heartbreak for all of them, especially to little Olivia, who was happy that she was finally going to be a big sister.
“We spent the first few weeks of his life relaxing at home, adjusting to becoming a family of four, and going for short walks to the park and beach to get some fresh air,” Catherine recalled.
Riley had to be hospitalized when his conditions grew worse. It was then that he was diagnosed with pertussis or commonly known as whooping cough. As documented in the devastating video, it shows how the disease was quickly overwhelming his body and making the little boy go from bad to worse.
Unfortunately, Riley did not make it. Since his death, both Catherine and Greg have made it a personal mission to advocate the need for vaccines needed by a pregnant woman before their baby is born. The Hughes have started a Facebook page called Light for Riley to formally launch their campaign.
Catherine has started by raising awareness on whooping cough, telling women to get vaccinated so their newborns do not contract the disease.
In an interview with The Guardian Australia, she stresses out, “I really want people to know that pregnancy vaccination means we now have the power to minimize—if not completely stop—deaths from whooping cough.”
The CDC reports that women can get the vaccine during the third trimester of their pregnancy period or in utero as well . This includes protection for the child and the mother. The reason Riley received no vaccine after birth is because infants are not allowed to be vaccinated until they’re two months old. The same thing can go for family members or people who surround the baby, often to minimize risk of cross contact.
“If your newborn baby has a cough and is too young to be vaccinated, please get them checked out by a doctor! I loved being Riley’s mum for those four weeks. I wish it were longer,” Catherine shared on Facebook.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease. While the symptoms may be dormant in adults, it has a high fatal rate when it comes to infants. Early symptoms of the deadly disease include runny nose, sore throat, slightly raised temperature, dry cough, and watery eyes. The symptoms can last for more than a week until it gets worse. If anyone you know, or even a child inhibits any of those symptoms, it is best to seek medical care.
The video Catherine has shared on Facebook can be disturbing to watch, but it aims to raise awareness and help educate mothers in protecting their newborn.
“In a country as lucky as ours, we should not be losing children to diseases that just shouldn’t exist any more,” Catherine adds. “We do our best to raise awareness about these disease and encourage people to immunize themselves and their children against them.”