Helping Others Have a Healthy Start

Melissa's family
Melissa's family

Melissa’s oversupply of breastmilk created a huge surplus saved up in her freezer. Knowing that this milk could benefit fragile babies in need, she searched for a local milk bank and found The Gathering Place, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas depot in Miami, Florida. She connected with MMBNT through the depot and has already donated 2,000 ounces of breastmilk that her daughter, Viviana Grace, doesn’t need.

Viviana is healthy and thriving today, but she entered the world with complications. She stopped growing due to velamentous cord insertion, an issue with the placenta, and due to that and her breech presentation, she was born via emergency C-section at 37 weeks and 5 days. Melissa started breastfeeding her right away at the hospital. While Viviana had a good latch, she became cyanotic, or lacked oxygen, when she was nursed.

Viviana
Viviana

A swallow study determined that Viviana had a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the windpipe and esophagus. She was emergency flown to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and at just 5 days old, she underwent surgery to remove the fistula.

“I knew I wanted to breastfeed her, so I pumped around the clock while she was in the NICU to make sure that I maintained my supply,” Melissa said.

After a successful surgery and two weeks in the NICU, Viviana finally went home. Melissa immediately resumed breastfeeding and says it’s done wonders for her daughter, who is now 6 months old. “I attribute her rapid recovery to the power of breastmilk and lots of love,” she said.

Viviana
Viviana

Donating breastmilk is Melissa’s way of helping others who start out with complications like Viviana did. To her, donating is “giving another baby the opportunity for improved health status, mental function and recovery in situations with early adversity.

“I’m a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and I would have never appreciated how difficult it can be to be a parent without this experience,” Melissa said. “Life is full of risk and having a child makes you so acutely aware of everything that can go wrong. It has not been an easy road, but having faith in the power of love and the evidence base for breastfeeding and breastmilk has been a beacon of light providing direction and hope that we are doing the right thing.”

For more information about becoming a milk donor, click here.