Remembering River through world-leading research

July 17, 2021 BY

IT has been 10 years since Alex Hamilton cradled her precious newborn baby River in her arms before losing him just four months later to SIDS.

“It doesn’t feel like that long since I last held him but to think he has been gone for 10 years, it’s really tough,” Alex said.

“I see a lot of the 10th birthday parties happening on Facebook from his mother’s group which is beautiful and I’m so happy for them, but it’s that little bit of heartbreak that he is not here.”

Alex and River’s dad, Karl Waddell, are the inspirational Geelong duo behind the charity River’s Gift which is dedicated to funding world leading scientific research in a bid to find answers and “stamp out SIDS”.

Alex, Karl and their beloved River when he was a newborn.

Since 2012 River’s Gift has raised more than $1.5 million, as well as providing crucial safe sleep education for parents and support for those who have suffered the devasting loss of a child to SIDS.

To mark what would have been River’s 10 birthday on July 2, the charity is reaching out to the public to support its $10for10 appeal.

“It’s like two coffees in a week which is nothing, really,” Alex said.

“We understand not everyone can give but if they could just share our message that is great too.

“People have been really generous and donated more but if we can get everyone on board to donate $10 that would make a really big difference.”

Just this month the charity wholly funded a state-of-the-art genetic biobank – the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere – which will allow scientists at the University of South Australia to examine genetic factors that have contributed to SIDS.

In Australia, 100 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly each year.

“It’s the number one cause of death in children aged one month to one year of age,” Alex explained.

“That’s 100 families per year that are absolutely devastated and the ripple effect that has is just massive.

“When we lost River, we didn’t know where to look or who was funding anything.

“Now I feel like families can come to us and say ‘tell me about the research’ and we can tell them in layman’s terms.

“We know that it is making a difference and our pledge has always been that we are going to find out why this is happening and over the 10 years we have not faltered in that mission.”

River’s Gift was established in memory of young River who tragically died from SIDS at just four months old.

Alex said she was also proud River’s Gift could be there for grieving parents at a time when they needed both factual information and emotional support.

“I had a family contact me yesterday who lost their little boy five weeks ago and they are in such the depths of despair right now,” she said.

“They are looking to us because they know we have come out the other side, so to speak.

“The more families I hear of, the more it drives me and makes me proud that families are finding us.

“It’s great to comfort them and be able to say ‘I’ve had other children and I have a life that is happy – you will smile again’.”

To donate to the $10for10 appeal visit the River’s Gift website.

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