Who are Matthew Eappen's parents Deborah and Sunil Eappen?

THE shocking story of Matthew Eappen made headlines all over the world and tonight ITV documentary The Trial Of Louise Woodward will bring it back into the spotlight.

But who are his parents? Here's all you need to know…


Who are Matthew Eappen's parents? 

Sunil Eappen

Sunil married his wife Deborah in 1990 after the pair met in medical school.

He is from Chicago, where his father was also a paediatrician.

He went on to work as an anaesthetist at a Boston hospital.

The couple had their first son, Brendan in 1994 and they decided to take on an au-pair.

When Matthew was born, they hired their fourth nanny – Louise Woodward.

But within two months, it was claimed the parents were concerned by Woodward staying out late at night and they cautioned her.

They allegedly drew up a list of expectations in January 1997 to ensure “the safety and well-being of our kids”, the Irish Times reported.

Four days later the eight-month-old was rushed to hospital after falling unconscious while in her care in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1997.

He was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital and put on a life support machine – but tragically six days later, he died of a brain haemorrhage. 

In between that time, Woodward, then 19, was arrested by police and she pleaded not guilty to one charge of battery of a child. 

Deborah Eappen

Deborah Eappen was a working mother – and when her first child was born she continued with her part-time career as an ophthalmologist.

She passed up a chief residency at the New England Medical Centre and a fellowship at Boston's Children's Hospital because she was pregnant with Matthew.

Because of her career, after Matthew's death she became the target of hate mail, who blamed her for the death of her son.

What is shaken baby syndrome?

Dr. Harvey Karp, CEO of Happiest Baby inc, explains: “Shaken baby syndrome is arguably the deadliest form of child abuse.

“It usually occurs before 12 months of age (Peak around four months of age during the colicky phase of infancy) when a parent finally loses patience with their inability to sooth the babies crying and grabs the baby by the shoulders rapidly shaking the baby’s body out of frustration. 

“The babies heavy head may be hit against a surface or snapped back-and-forth on the infant’s thin neck causing the soft brain inside to bang against the hard inside of the skull causing brain swelling and tearing tiny veins causing life threatening bleeding. 

“Clearly, the serious cases are the tip of the iceberg. Many children may have minimal brain damage that is not diagnosed but perhaps goes on to cause neurological problems such as attention deficit and learning problems.”

John McMullan, consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Sheffield Children's Hospital, toldthe BBC that shaking a baby caused brain injuries similar to those in boxing.

But he said: "In boxing the incidences of the head blows are relatively infrequent and so that damage is taking place over, typically, years.

"Whereas with an infant shaking, the damage is occurring in seconds."

These people believed that the couple put their careers ahead of their chilldrens’ welfare.

Deborah and Sunil are still currently practicing medicine – Dr. Sunil as an anesthesiologist in Boston, Massachusetts, while Dr. Deborah is working as an ophthalmologist in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

What have Deborah and Sunil Eappen said? 

After their son’s death they founded the Matty Eappen Foundation at the Boston Children Hospital.

It spreads awareness of child abuse and shaken baby syndrome.

A statement said: "This foundation was established in his memory to improve the safety and welfare of children by educating the public about the dangers of shaking a child and to provide assistance to victims and their families."

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