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The heartbroken parents of a two-month-old boy who suffocated after his dad fell asleep with him on his chest have shared their anguish in a bid to warn others of the dangers of co-sleeping.
Lucas John Martino died after falling between his dad’s arm and the sofa after the exhausted new parents fell asleep following a ‘perfect day’ spent as a family on November 26 last year.
Mum, 20-year-old Haley Gavrilis, woke up to find Lucas’s dad, 20-year-old Carmine Martino, asleep on the sofa and assumed Lucas was in his basket – but she started to panic when she couldn’t find him and woke Carmine up.
The pair then discovered Lucas’s lifeless body on the sofa in the early hours of the morning and despite Carmine’s frantic efforts to revive him, the tot was confirmed dead by paramedics.
The parents, who split a month after Lucas’s death, said they are haunted by what happened and are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“There was a lot of blame obviously – of course I blamed myself,” Carmine from North Carolina, in the US, said.
“Being a father – it’s my job to protect my family, my son and my girlfriend and I failed them. I was extremely angry with myself.
“I’m trying to make progress every day. There’s no way to live with something like this and the images of performing CPR on him will haunt me forever.
College student Haley said she’d also been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety – and still has panic attacks.
“I have trouble sleeping, I run over the details of the night,” Haley, also from North Carolina, said.
“My friends and family tell me it’s not my fault but I keep thinking if I hadn’t have slept for so long he’d still be alive.
The new parents had spent the day decorating their home for their first family Christmas before Haley went for a nap and Carmine settled down with Lucas to watch football.
Carmine said he was sitting upright with Lucas on his chest when he must have fallen asleep.
When the pair discovered Lucas on the sofa Carmine said he knew straight away that something wasn’t right.
“I looked for a pulse and tried to hear his heartbeat but there was nothing,” Carmine said.
“I started CPR and I did that for 12 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
“It was the most horrendous moment of my life.”
Paramedics desperately tried to save Lucas’s life and continued to perform CPR in the ambulance on the driveway for 45 minutes but it was too late.
Lucas was taken to a hospital and an autopsy later confirmed the cause of death as positional asphyxiation.
“There are so many people out there who are not educated about this. That’s the scary part. If it happened to us then it could happen to so many other babies,” Haley said.
“There are also parents like us who are so tired. If you feel tired just put the baby down.
“I hope by sharing what happened it might help to save another child’s life and Lucas won’t have died in vain.”
Carmine believes it’s also vital for anyone who will be looking after a baby to be trained in infant CPR.
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