Light for Riley

We are proud to announce the Light for Riley project as the first under the IFA banner.

Our Riley

Riley Hughes was born a gorgeous and healthy baby boy on February 13th, 2015.

He was our second child and we were so delighted to have him in our family.

At three weeks of age, he started displaying mild cold-like symptoms, and developed an occasional cough. We called out a doctor, who assured us he was fine.

However instincts took over, and after a night where he slept a lot and barely woke for his usual two-hourly breastfeed, we knew something was wrong. We took him straight to our local children’s hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, Western Australia.

Riley was admitted that afternoon, and at first it was thought he had bronchiolitis. Pretty quickly, the doctors suspected pertussis (whooping cough) and began treating him for it.

On the 4th day of his hospital stay, he was taken to PICU with pneumonia, and swab tests confirmed he did indeed have whooping cough.

He grew steadily worse and worse, and despite all the best medical intervention, Riley passed away in our arms the next afternoon, at just 32 days old.
baby booties

Our Journey

During his last few days with us, we discovered that women in the UK, USA, Belgium and New Zealand were being recommended a whooping cough vaccine in their third trimester. This vaccine, usually given between 28-32 weeks gestation, provides the unborn baby with the necessary antibodies to protect them from this terrible disease.

Since the introduction of this pregnancy vaccine, the UK has seen a reduction in infant deaths from pertussis by over 90%.

Two days after Riley’s death, our state government announced the introduction of a program where these third trimester booster shots would be offered free of charge to pregnant women.

Other states soon followed, and now all states and territories in Australia have free whooping cough booster shots for pregnant women.

The support by the Australian government continued with the introduction of the official No Jab, No Pay arrangement on the 1st January 2016.  The arrangement is in relation to parents who chose not to vaccinate their children now being ineligible for a number of government rebates.

Throughout all of this, we still mourn the loss of our beautiful baby boy.  As a family, we have survived this tragedy from the enormous wave of support we have – and still are – receiving through our quest to ensure that Riley’s passing was not in vain by educating families on the importance of vaccination.

A positive motion of change to protect our most vulnerable continues to gain momentum and in doing so, our Light for Riley will continue to shine.

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