On Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, Vienna Carly Savino passed away from Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). She was a healthy, sweet, 2-year-old (two months shy of her third birthday) when she fell asleep while watching television at her home in Holmdel and never woke up.
Since that traumatic Day, her mother, Dr. Denise Wunderler, has channeled her grief, taken on new role as warrior and spearheaded a mission – Team Vienna for SUDC Awareness – to increase awareness and fund research to ultimately prevent others from experiencing the same unexplained tragedy.
Wunderler, a USA Volleyball Team Physician, recently performed the first verse of Vienna’s Song “I Think About You” (Song for Vienna) prior to giving her TED Talk-style presentation at the OMED Physicians Conference Baltimore, Maryland. It was a way to draw interest and share her personal story of loss. She opened with, “So many things I wanted to teach you. So many things I wanted to show you. So many things I wanted to tell you – don’t understand why my little girl is gone.” The words, which are Wunderler’s way of communicating her dreams for Vienna and cope with her grief, were put to music created by Vienna’s favorite musician Ray Andersen (known to kids as mr. RAY).
“For two months after her death, words to my daughter swirled in my head like a hurricane until I wrote them down,” Wunderler explained the origin of the song. “My mind quieted. Then two months later, I texted them to Ray.”
Unbeknownst to Wunderler, Ray created music to her message to Vienna, and published and performed the poignant song. Since the song was created in April 2018, Wunderler was inspired to take guitar lessons to learn this special song, which she says, “has helped me and my family and so many other families who are trying to survive each day after losing a healthy child. I will forever be grateful Ray gave this amazing gift of song to us.”
Wunderler also vows to continue working on the song in the future, and hopefully perform the entire version to her “little girl in heaven.”
To read more about Vienna’s legacy, click here.
Three things to know about SUDC:
1. Knowledge of SUDC in the medical community and general public is extremely scarce. At this time, researchers do not know what causes SUDC, how to predict it or how to prevent it. Research is crucial, however no public funding of SUDC research currently exists.
2. Every year, around 400 kids (1 to 18 years old) in the U.S. die without explanation. SUDC is the fifth leading category of death in children ages 1 to 4 years old.
3. If more people learn about SUDC, funding will follow to allow more crucial research to occur, then causes can be uncovered, and prevention strategies can be put into place.