Sylvie sparks search for answers to mystery killer

A picnic and visit to the MCG to soak up the end of the footy season last September was the happy precede to a life-changing day for the Watty family. 

Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department will be represented in Sunday’s run by Brian Haberfield (left), Jane Haberfield, Paddy Haberfield, Justine Rea, Sue Anderton, Bridget Haberfield, Nicole Clayton, Jody McGovern and Kylie Palmer. INSET: Sylvie Watty. 140721AM62   Main picture: ANGELA MILNE

Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department will be represented in Sunday’s run by Brian Haberfield (left), Jane Haberfield, Paddy Haberfield, Justine Rea, Sue Anderton, Bridget Haberfield, Nicole Clayton, Jody McGovern and Kylie Palmer. INSET: Sylvie Watty. 140721AM62 Main picture: ANGELA MILNE

By the evening their youngest child Sylvie had worked up an appetite, quickly eating her dinner. 

Afterwards her mother Emma tucked the 15-month-old into bed. 

During the night for reasons that aren’t clear, Sylvie passed away in her sleep. 

Over the next six months an investigation into the cause revealed only questions and heartache. 

All that was known was that the toddler had passed away from sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC)

“It was well over six months before we got a final report that said the cause was unascertainable,” Ms Watty said. 

Ms Watty, a midwife originally from Codrington, and her husband Steve, an anaesthetist, saw no warning signs on the day. 

“There wasn’t a worry in the world,” Ms Watty said.

SUDC is rarer than sudden infant death (SIDS) and occurs in children over the age of one. 

Nearly a year since her death, Sylvie’s family are raising funds to support research into SUDC and the support is coming from all corners. 

A bright photo of Sylvie smiling is displayed in the lunch room at Warrnambool Base Hospital’s emergency department (ED). 

Emma and Steve met 10 years ago and made a strong impression on those still treating patients there. 

News of the tragic event touched hearts in the unit. 

“When this happened it was tragic. We thought what can we do?” friend and nurse practitioner Sue Anderton said. 

On Sunday up to 20 staff and friends of the ED will hit the ground for Victoria’s annual The Age Run Melbourne marathon, joining another 250 running for the cause. 

“Other doctors that have worked here before that are now GPs, some of them are running too,” Ms Anderton said. 

The runners are raising funds for charity SIDS and Kids to go towards research on SIDS and SUDC.

“We’ve got a Facebook page where people can donate and we’re nearly up to $2000. Our initial aim was only $1000,” Ms Anderton said. 

Since February, Emma and Steve have raised up to $100,000 for research. 

“There is also a run happening in Broome on Cable Beach and in Birchip in the Mallee. Even Johannesburg, London and New York,” Ms Watty said. “The support has been incredible.”

Meanwhile, Yambuk has held its own effort, raising $13,629 from an auction and raffle event. 

For more information, visit runmelbourne2014.everydayhero.com/au/team-sylvie-sunshine

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