A grieving Australian mother's heartbreaking video of her 4-week-old son gasping for air is serving as a warning for expectant parents everywhere. The video shows baby Riley suffering the consequences of whooping cough three days before his death, as the illness took over his body.
In an emotional post to her son's tribute page, Catherine Hughes shared a video of Riley violently coughing and trying to breathe. "I have always kept these videos to myself, as it makes my blood run cold listening to my beautiful boy cough like that," Catherine wrote. "But we are sharing this in the hopes that it will convince just one more pregnant mum to protect their baby from this disease. I wish I had known about pregnancy vaccination when I was pregnant with Riley."
The difficult-to-watch video shows Riley both before and after he was hospitalized as his condition worsened.
"In the beginning, Riley didn't have a 'whoop' sound in his cough, but it certainly developed once he was in hospital," Catherine said. "If your newborn baby has a cough, and is too young to be vaccinated, please get them checked out by a doctor! Early intervention CAN help."
Since Riley's death, Catherine and Greg Hughes have been vocal advocates for prenatal whooping cough prevention. Because newborns under 2 months of age are too young to receive the pertussis vaccine, mothers can be vaccinated during pregnancy to help protect their babies. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control now recommends "women to get the whooping cough vaccine in the third trimester of every pregnancy." Doctors also recommend whooping cough boosters for anyone who comes in contact with babies 8 weeks old or younger.
Like another Australian mother who shared her baby's whooping cough video, the Hugheses are hoping to educate parents about the vaccines. As Catherine shared, "I loved being Riley's Mum for those four weeks. I wish it were longer. Please share to help ensure no more babies die from this disease, which I hope one day will be relegated to the history books."