Twenty-eight years ago, I was a lawyer, who used to be a research biochemist and a mother of 3 gorgeous children, when one night my beautiful healthy baby son, Damien, died suddenly and without warning. I was told it was tragic and I was told to go home and enjoy my living babies and have more. I tried.
I tried so hard that one day 3 years later, when I was visiting my friend, I said nothing when I saw her baby, Amelia, sleeping on her tummy in the pram. I did not respond to the screaming voice in my head to tell her to never sleep her baby on her tummy. I was trying to get on with my life, I did not want to upset her and so I said nothing. The next morning, sitting in my office, overlooking the harbour, I got a phone call. Amelia had died in her sleep during the night.
That afternoon I resigned my job as a lawyer and returned to the world of medical research. I made a solemn resolution there and then to leave no stone unturned in my quest to solve the mystery of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Twenty-eight years on from Damien’s death there have been major advancements in our understanding of SIDS and the number of babies dying from this has greatly decreased. However, the sad fact remains that in Australia nearly 3 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every single week.
Our team at Children's Hospital Westmead and Sydney University desperately wants to find a solution to this horror and we think we are getting close, but we have run out of funds. As everyone probably knows, funding in the research world is always scarce and, in the past, we have got by on an absolute minimum. But we are now at a cross-roads. We can go no further in our investigations as we now need to use highly specialised equipment to progress our research.
There is no guarantee that we have the definitive answer. Our research to date indicates that we are close and we are definitely excited about the possibilities our new results suggest – and hence my appeal to you. In my 25 years researching SIDS I have not asked for public money. I have happily donated my time and found other ways of bringing in an income – like writing books and working in the world of adult sleep. In fact, apart from my close friends and colleagues, few have known about what I always considered to be my real work – that of finding an answer to why Damien, and so many other babies, are taken from us suddenly and without any warning in the middle of the night when, really, they are meant to be in the safest place possible.
I cannot say with certainty that our new discovery will keep every precious baby safe, but even if it doesn't it will definitely add to our knowledge of this tragic problem and bring us closer to a time when all parents can be assured that when they put their beautiful baby to sleep they are safe. They will not have to suffer the horror, that so many mums and dads have had to suffer, of finding their baby dead in their cot.
Let us all come together to end the heartache of SIDS. If every parent in Australia donated just one dollar it would be of such an enormous help in our quest. All donations are tax deductible and all funds raised go directly to research.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I wish you all the very best and wish you the joy of watching your children grow into beautiful and healthy adults.