Oahu family mourning loss of baby son to whooping cough

Natalie Norton
Natalie Norton
Richie Norton
Richie Norton
Dr. Rio Banner
Dr. Rio Banner
Gavin Norton
Gavin Norton

By Tannya Joaquin - bio | email

LAIE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Laie family lost their baby boy this year to a deadly disease that's making a comeback - whooping cough. When little Gavin was born last October...

"He was just the joy of our lives," said father Richie Norton.

"He was wonderful in every way," said mother Natalie Norton.

But by Christmas, their fourth son went. From a healthy, happy baby boy to his death bed, fighting a ferocious case of whooping cough.

Eighty percent of the time, babies contract it from an adult or caregiver with mild or no symptoms. In infants it's a violent and potentially deadly cough.

"One day we had this healthy wonderful child. The next, he was gone," said Natalie.

"We look over at where his crib was and he's not there. It's a daily reminder," said Richie.

With a huge hole in their hearts, Natalie and Richie Norton spread their story through a blog and national 'Sounds of Pertussis' campaign. NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon is the spokesperson. The new dad showed all it takes is a simple booster shot to protect his newborn.

"We were so careful and he still contracted pertussis. Now I as a mother have to live for the rest of my life wondering did I give this to my baby?" she said.

Whooping cough has made a comeback.

"It's on the rise which is terrifying for us, particularly because we've seen what happens. We've seen the deterioration of our son's health," she said.

"It's scary. You just feel so distressed for that child or infant. It's a hard high pitched really stressful cough," said Dr. Rio Banner, Medical Director for AlohaCare.

Doctor Rio Banner, Medical Director for AlohaCare says the solution is simple.

"The solution is for the adults to get booster shots. If large numbers of population get vaccines, it's totally preventable," he said.

The Norton's family will always have a void, but they say they will strive everyday to make sure Gavin didn't die in vain.

"It's too late for us but it's not too late for other families," mother said.

"We feel strongly that we can turn our tragedy into a victory," father said.

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