Warning: The video contained in this post may be distressing for some viewers.
She should be planning his first birthday party. Writing lists and ordering balloons.
She should be baking cupcakes and buying train sets stunned at how quickly he grew in a year, the bittersweet knowledge that your baby is nearly a toddler.
But instead Catherine Hughes is working to save other babies, other lives, to save your children. As the anniversary of the birth of her son, Riley approaches she has shared a heartbreaking video she hopes will make us all sit up and take notice.
She wants us all to talk about vaccinations.
Riley Hughes was just 32 days old when he died from whooping cough. He was too young to have his vaccinations and his mother, Catherine had not been told that while she was pregnant she could have been vaccinated, providing some immunity to Riley.
In the video she has shared of her precious son only days before he passed away Riley is struggling to breathe, the newborn is coughing every couple of seconds, swaddled lightly in the summer heat.
Catherine said at the time it would have been easy to dismiss his illness, as Riley didn’t have a whoop. But as he coughed more and more she grew concerned and decided to take him to a doctor just in case. The doctor diagnosed the cough as a cold and sent him home.
The next day Riley was coughing more and so Catherine and her husband, Greg took him to hospital.
Four days later their beautiful baby boy died a terrible, preventable death from whooping cough.
But Riley’s death, while devastating, has now not been in vain.
Since his death Riley’s parents, Catherine and Greg, have been passionately campaigning to bring awareness of the importance of the maternal pertussis vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy.
As a direct result of his parents’s campaigning every Australian state and territory has now made free whooping cough booster shots available to all pregnant women, Riley has saved countless lives.
80% of whooping cough deaths occur in babies under three months of age and we know that women having a booster shot during their pregnancy provides their baby’s best defence against whooping cough.
In sharing the video, which she hopes will make more people aware of the importance of the vaccine, Catherine had this message: