Looking at the images of Riley John Hughes, it is hard to imagine the heartbreak his parents must feel. It’s been two days since Catherine and Greg Hughes lost their newborn son to whooping cough and they have turned to social media with a powerful message for other parents.
“We are devastated to let everyone know our gorgeous sweet month-old son Riley John Hughes lost his battle with whooping cough at Princess Margaret Hospital. He passed away peacefully in our arms after a tough fight. The staff at PMH were amazing and did everything they could to save his little life but the whooping cough was too severe. RIP Riley. Forever in our hearts.”
This is the terrible message that Riley’s mum posted to Facebook after her precious boy died at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth on Tuesday, 17 March 2015.
His father Greg posted more heartbreaking words. “RIP to my darling little angel Riley, cruelly cut down before his life had an opportunity to start. Riley passed away peacefully in the arms of his mummy and daddy … aged just 32 days – a result of pneumonia-based complications arising from whooping cough. I’m an absolute shell of a man without my baby boy and I’m truly not sure how I’ll cope.”
Riley was too young to be vaccinated, but Catherine says their whole family was immunised and they had asked their friends and families to get a booster before visiting. Health officials still do not know how Riley contracted whooping cough.
The Hughes’, though devastated, are desperate for others to learn from their infant son’s death. This is the poignant message that Greg shared last week as their baby was battling for his life in hospital.
“If you’re anti-immunisation/anti-logic/anti-duty of care to your society as a whole, then feel free to take a look at this picture of my son in hospital right now at 4 weeks old with whooping cough — and then come and tell me how you think immunisation is a bad thing.”
The couple have set up a Facebook page, Light for Riley to raise awareness and to encourage people to immunise both themselves and their children against whooping cough. The page has already gathered more than 25,000 followers and thousands of messages of support.
Riley’s death is the first from whopping cough in Western Australia since 2011, though whooping cough kills about 250,000 children worldwide each year. In Western Australia there have been 244 cases so far this year, most of which involve infants under the age of 12 months. Whooping cough is highly contagious but is preventable by vaccination.The Department of Health states that babies are most at risk until they have at least two doses of the vaccine, one at 6 weeks and one at 4 months. This is why immunisations for an entire community are so critical to manage and prevent whooping cough outbreaks.
For more information on Riley and to offer your support, condolences and donations, visit Light for Riley. All of us at Babyology have the Hughes family in and their brave beautiful little boy in our hearts at this sad time.