Catherine Hughes should be planning a first birthday party, instead she is wishing children didn’t die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Catherine doesn’t get to celebrate the first birthday of her son, Riley, who passed away last March from whooping cough at just 32 days old. Instead she says – “I’m watching these videos and wishing children didn’t die from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

She wants us all to talk about vaccinations.


“I should be planning his first birthday party but instead I’m watching these videos and wishing children didn’t die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

They don’t have to.

Every time you speak in favour of immunisation, you could be helping encourage those who are unsure about vaccination to make the right decision. Thank you for continuing the conversation heart emoticon

- Riley’s Mum Catherine x”

He was too young to have his vaccinations and Catherine had not been told that while she was pregnant she could have been vaccinated, providing some immunity to Riley.

riley 2

By sharing the video of her precious son only days before he passed away she is hoping to highlight the dangers of not immunising.

“*Warning – contains content that some may find distressing*

These are the final videos of our beautiful son Riley who passed away from whooping cough on the 17th of March, 2015.

I have always kept these videos to myself, as it makes my blood run cold listening to my beautiful boy cough like that. 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.

In the beginning, Riley didn’t have a “whoop” sound in his cough, but it certainly developed once he was in hospital. 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.

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.

- Riley’s Mum x”

Catherine told the ABC that something needed to be done to target “belief systems: undermining the vaccination effort.”

“I think greater education is needed in schools,” she said. “Losing Riley was the worst thing we’ve ever experienced, and it doesn’t need to happen,” Catherine said.

“Watching your baby gasp for breath and being told your baby isn’t going to make it, … it doesn’t need to happen.

“There is prevention available. [It was] not something that I was offered but now every woman in Australia has access to pregnancy vaccination, which means the babies are born fairly protected [from] the disease.”

For more details visit Light for Riley on Facebook.

Share your thoughts below.

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  • Absolutely heartbreaking. Very sorry, just unfair. :(


  • wow, what a terrible story, and really brings home the value in these preventative medicines


  • Poor Riley! Vaccinations are so important!! Such a sad story. :-(


  • So very sad when it shouldn’t be happening today x


  • Immunisations are so very important. So sad when innocent babies die in this way.


  • When my niece was enrolled at school before her 5th birthday her parents were asked by the Principal if she had been immunised.


  • This was incredibly difficult to watch. Hopefully this will encourage people to vaccinate to protect not only ourselves and our children but also those that are most vulnerable.

    • yeah that is right. we should take a bit more responsibilty


  • that was hard to watch that poor baby! i feel very sorry for this family. i hope that people get vaccinated!


  • So sorry for his family and grateful to them for sharing their story and inspiring recent pro vaccine action


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