After infant’s sudden death, Emporia family educates on ways to prevent SIDS

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EMPORIA (KSNT) – At exactly three months old, an Emporia family learned their baby had died while he was sleeping, a death that many people do not understand. However, they are turning their tragedy into education.

It’s a yearly event, a community baby shower in Emporia. It’s a time that helps educate new moms and even the ones who are well experienced. This shower wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Gail Barrett and her husband, as well as their son Wade.

On March 24, 2010, Wade was introduced to the world, the second baby for the Barretts. But on the exact day he turned three months old in June 2010, they went through the unexpected.

“He was actually at daycare. So we…I got a phone call while I was at work, saying he had been taken into the hospital. And uh…Sorry,” Gail Barrett said as she tried to hold back her tears. “You know, it’s just…no parent should ever have to go through that. We showed up with no idea what was going on. That’s a big thing for me, is that we don’t want other parents to have to do that ever.”

Wade died because of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

“They go to sleep and then they just don’t wake up,” she said. “So there’s no choking, no suffocation. They can’t figure out what happened. He just went to sleep and never woke up.”

It’s a situation the Barretts never thought they’d go through and a situation that wasn’t really taught to them, but they soon took control of it.

“I think the biggest thing people don’t know is that the education is not consistent out there,” she said. “The doctor’s office didn’t teach anything. But then the hospital didn’t really teach anything. And that was really our focus was that we have places, here in Kansas, that supply really good information. But it just wasn’t getting into the right hands to get places.”

In October 2010, they started the Wade Barrett Memorial Fund, an organization that raises money and awareness for families in Lyon County to be educated on ways to prevent SIDS.

“Education is so important,” Barrett said. “Every time we hear a story about a parent losing a child, my husband and I can remember all of those feelings. We can remember that day. And even if, today, we change one parent’s mind about how they are going to put their baby to sleep, or how they’re going to be cared for, I think it’s totally worth it.”

Wade’s life was taken unexpectedly at just three months because of SIDS. Now, his mom and dad work hard to educate the Lyon County community to make sure it doesn’t happen to another family by providing families with a free baby shower, swaddles and safe sleep cribs.

The Barretts and Newman Regional Hospital in Emporia have partnered together to provide every baby with a free halo sleep sack, or swaddle, when they leave the hospital.

Barrett said since starting the fund, it sometimes takes a toll on her as many things you’re passionate about can. But the thing that keeps her going besides the education part of it is seeing the babies all grown up after moms came to the baby shower.

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