(NEW YORK) — A mom who wanted to help storm victims did so in a very personal way: by sending babies her breast milk after Hurricane Harvey.
Danielle Palmer of Owensville, Missouri, had an excess because of her son’s medical condition that prevented him from consuming her milk. Six-month-old Truett has a complex congenital heart defect.
“For the first big part of his life he was unable to take my milk,” Palmer told ABC News. “All the milk I was pumping was going into the freezer. I have always had an oversupply of milk. Truett has had eight surgeries to date and over time my stash has continued to build.”
Earlier this month, Palmer sent more than 1,000 ounces of breast milk to Texas to help babies and moms affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Palmer, 31, found out about Milk Sharing though her son’s speech therapist, Nicole Edwin. Edwin is president of the nonprofit Guiding Star Mid-Missouri.
Edwin and midwife Terina Knarr loaded up the nearly 8 gallons of fully frozen breast milk in a deep freezer loaded with special ice and drove it themselves to Texas, Palmer said.
“It arrived fully frozen and immediately put into another deep freezer there for storage,” she added. “Once there the milk was given out to mothers and babies as needed.”
“The need arose for moms and babies affected by Hurricane Harvey who’ve lost their frozen milk stored in deep freezers,” Edwin told ABC News. “I’ve directly connected with mothers who have returned to their home and discovered, not only is their food spoiled, so is their milk. I’ve also directly connected with mothers who are displaced and could not transport their milk with them, leaving with what they had on their back to evacuate.”
Moms can be connected on the group’s Facebook page, Nourish Notion: Moms in Motion, Edwin said, which tracks the organization’s collections and drop-offs.
“Terina and I acted because of a specific need,” she said, “knowing that we had the supply to offer from Missouri, from mothers like Danielle.”
Edwin said she is motivated by her own son’s need for donor breast milk when he was in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit and after discharge.
Palmer said, “I don’t take my son’s heart defect lightly but before he was born, I prayed that some beauty could come from our pain, and here is part of the beauty. I’m beyond thankful that my milk can provide some stress relief for these mothers and nutrition for the babies.”
The mom of three boys is donating again to help babies and moms affected by Hurricane Irma.
As for Truett, things are looking up: He’s now taking his mom’s milk through his gastrostomy tube.
But “mothers who choose not to breast-feed or can’t breast-feed shouldn’t be overlooked either,” Palmer said. “A fed baby is the best.”
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