Thirty-thousand babies die every year within their first year of life. It is a startling and sad statistic. Yet one family's personal pain with this reality has led to an organization trying to prevent other families from going through the same pain. It's the R Baby Foundation.
The Colorado foundation, named after Rhiannon McMurray, is in its infancy, but is already making a difference.
"Rhiannon was born on May 3rd," said Corinne McMurray, Rhiannon's mother. "She was a miracle to us because we were never supposed to be able to have children. She was perfect in every way."
But the joy and happiness faded fast when Rhiannon went into cardiac arrest at her pediatrician's office. When she was just 9 days old, she passed away.
"We went from extreme joy, to living hell, in 24 hours," said Dan McMurray, Rhiannon's father.
Days later, the McMurrays learned Rhiannon died from a virus.
"In an older child or adult, it is something as simple as a common cold," said Corinne. "But with an infant, especially under 30 days, once they contract it, it can be so much more."
The McMurrays now have three children and they are determined to not let another family suffer as they have.
Shortly after Rhiannon died, the couple learned of a baby named Rebecca --who also died when she was 9 days old and also of a virus. That family started the R Baby Foundation in New York. The McMurrays started it in Colorado.
"Nobody should ever lose a child," said Corinne.
To fulfill that mission, the R Baby Foundation is using money to train and equip emergency rooms and paramedics with what they need to help babies breathe.
"The most common reason a child gets into trouble is because of respiratory problems; they can't breathe," said Dr. Joan Bothner, of Children's Hospital.
The McMurrays said many times, medical personnel don't know how to intubate a baby properly.
"Often times they are intubated in wrong airway, in the esophagus, which can cause severe brain damage and worse things," said Corinne.
Corinne said some medical personnel just don't have the right equipment.
"To have all this equipment at your fingertips and know how to use it is very critical for some of the life-saving things that we need to do for kids," said Bothner.
The foundation is also developing a statewide 24-hour communication network that will allow doctors anywhere to contact doctors at Children's Hospital with emergency questions at any time of day.
Dan and Corinne know nothing they do now will bring Rhiannon back, but they know they can help other innocent, helpless babies. And Rhiannon would be proud of that.
"She is in our hearts and in our house," said Corinne.
The Children's Hospital said it is up to parents to be prepared for an emergency. To help, they created "in case of emergency kits" that parents can customize for each child. To download your own kit, go to thechildrenshospital.org
For more information on the R Baby Foundation, visit www.rbabywalkcolorado.org
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