CALABASH, N.C. (WECT) – A Calabash family is turning the tragic loss of their 8-week-old child into a warning for other new parents.
Haley Gavrilis and Carmine Martino were gearing up for their first Christmas as parents to their newborn boy, Lucas.
The couple found out they were expecting last spring, and Lucas was born on Oct. 2.
“We had Lucas’ baby’s first Christmas things and everything like that around the house,” Gavrilis said Thursday.
Just eight weeks after his birth, the unthinkable happened.
The family spent a Sunday night watching a Christmas movie. After the movie, Gavrilis went to sleep on the couch around 8 p.m. while Martino watched Sunday Night Football with the baby on his chest.
Just before midnight, Gavrilis awoke to her worst nightmare.
“He wasn’t breathing. My stomach, to this moment, hurts thinking about that,” she said.
The couple frantically called 911 while Martino began CPR, but it was too late for paramedics to revive him.
“I feel like if I had woken up 10 minutes earlier, then maybe he would still be here to this day,” she said.
Baby Lucas had slipped between Martino’s arm and the couch. The couple says they were told he died of positional asphyxiation.
Gavrilis and Martino had been taught about sleep safety in the hospital, but pediatricians say it can happen in the blink of an eye.
“This can happen to anyone, and my heart goes out to this family because it’s just a second and you don’t even see it coming,” Dr. David Hill said.
Hill also shared ways to keep your children safe while sleeping.
“Always put your child to sleep in a safe location,” Hill said. “That’s a crib or bassinet, flat surface, no padding or pillows, no stuffed animals, no big blankets. They should never co-sleep with you in your bed. People in the house should not smoke cigarettes, and children should be breastfed if they can be and be fully immunized.”
In their time of unimaginable grief, the couple took to Facebook to share their story with the hope that Lucas’ death wouldn’t be in vain.
“We don’t want anybody else, I know me personally, don’t want anybody else to ever be in my shoes,” Martino said.
Their hope is to share their story as a warning to other parents about sleep safety.
With Christmas just days away, they’re holding onto hope of helping others and one another.
A stuffed animal containing a saved recording of Lucas’ heartbeat serves as a precious reminder of their greatest gift gone too soon.
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