SIDS and Kids leading the way with world first research to save children’s lives

The sudden and unexpected death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. For new parents Robert and Kylie Trewin of Bairnsdale, Victoria, this nightmare became a reality when they found their 16-month-old son, Cooper, passed away during the night in February 2010.

Many people might be familiar with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) but few Australians would have heard of Sudden and Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). With no known cause of death, Cooper is an example of SUDC, a rare condition that occurs mainly in toddlers aged 1 -5 years.1

Following fundraising efforts Kylie and Robert recently contributed $95,000 towards the SUDC International Research Initiative, motivated by a desire to save other families from the tragedy of losing a child to SUDC. This research initiative is directed by Dr. Hannah C. Kinney, a long-time investigator in SUDC and SIDS research, at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“We owe it to Cooper’s memory to ensure we have done everything possible to help find out why SUDC occurs and make sure no other parent has to go through this, ” Robert said.

As a result of their significant contribution, the Cooper Trewin Memorial SUDC Research Fund has partnered with SIDS and KIDS and the United States SUDC team at Boston Children’s Hospital to establish a world first research initiative dedicated to finding the cause of SUDC.

“Cooper was loved and treasured. Why he was taken away from us when he was so well cared for is something beyond comprehension and which is why we need answers,” said Kylie.

Since Cooper’s death, the Trewin’s have had a daughter, Chelsea, who is now 15 months old and Kylie says, “Chelsea has brought so much joy back into our lives, but you could never explain to anyone the fear that it could happen again.”

Dr Jhodie Duncan, Australian Coordinator of the SUDC International Research Initiative at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, University of Melbourne, said that the rarity of cases is what makes research into the causes of SUDC so difficult.

“By entering into a research partnership with the SUDC team at Boston Children’s Hospital in the United States, we have a greater chance of conducting meaningful analysis through the collaboration of SUDC samples and information.”

“This collaboration is a huge step forward for Australian SUDC research and is a testament to the tireless work of Robert and Kylie Trewin and SIDS and Kids,” Dr Duncan said.

The establishment of the SUDC International Research Initiative comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of SIDS and Kids flagship fundraiser, Red Nose Day on Friday June 29.

SIDS and Kids CEO Leanne Raven said there was never a more important time to support Red Nose Day.

“For 25 years we have helped thousands of Australian families cope with the devastating experience of losing a baby or child. Yet cases like the Trewin’s show why we still need your support to raise much needed funds for research into sudden and unexplained death, education awareness campaigns and counselling services,” Ms Raven said.

For more information on the Cooper Trewin Memorial SUDC Research Fund visit www.sudc.com.au.

For more information on Red Nose Day and how to donate visit: www.rednoseday.com.au.

1 Whilst SUDC occurs predominantly in toddlers aged 1 – 5 years it can extend beyond this age bracket and affect children up to 12 – 18 years.

For all media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Julia Lee, Haystac (P) 03 9693 2268, (M) 0421 396 570 (E) julia.lee@haystac.com.au
Georgia Brumby, Haystac (P) 03 9693 6530, (M) 0401 097 176 (E) georgia.brumby@haystac.com.au

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