CINCINNATI - Randy and Sarah McKenzie have endured an unthinkable pain.
“Even though we did everything right, we still lost our baby,” Sarah recalls. Last October, their 3-month-old son, Pierce, died of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
"You never think it's going to happen to you, said Randy. “I thought my family was too strong and nothing would ever happen to anyone related to us.”
But that tragic reality did happen to 11 families, including the McKenzie’s, in Butler and Warren Counties in 2011.
Pierce stopped breathing while in the care of a babysitter. The National Institutes of Health reports that most SIDS cases occur when a baby is asleep.
"SIDS is not preventable but with the safe sleep environment there are some risk factors that can be eliminated," explained Sheree Young. Young runs a prenatal bereavement program at Atrium Medical Center in Warren County. She and her colleagues could not ignore those 11 heartbreaking cases of SIDS last year.
She recalls thinking, “Let's put together a group of health professionals, of educators, of physicians, of staff, of community, health department employees. More importantly let's have a family that represents this kind of loss on the team. I can't think of anybody better than Sarah and Randy because they had lived it and they could come back to us and say this is what other families need.”
What resulted is the “Pierce” Project. Pierce's photo is now on posters warning of the do's and don'ts of safe sleep. They include putting your baby to bed on his or her back, not the stomach. Experts say, keep your baby warm with clothing, not blankets. They are a suffocation risk, as are crib bumper pads. They say the ideal crib has only a mattress and a tightly fitted sheet. According to the Pierce Project, parents who make these changes could reduce the risk of SIDS.
“I don't want anyone to go through what we're going through," said Sarah.
For more advice on baby’s safe sleep, click here. https://www.atriummedcenter.org/atrdefault.aspx?id=64610 .
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What would you do if you found out you only had a few months to live?