How One Little Baby & His Mom Are Saving the Lives of Hundreds in Houston

mom donates breast milk hurricane
Breastfeeding Mama Talk / Facebook

As many parents sit in the comfort of their own homes wondering what they would do if they lost everything in a hurricane, those who live in Houston, Texas, are dealing with that reality. With such a widespread need for everything from clothing to food, families trying to pick up the pieces after Harvey are relying on both compassion and donations from strangers. But one Missouri mom is helping on a more personal level. Instead of sending diapers or toys, she's donating something priceless: a massive cooler of her breast milk.

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Breastfeeding Mama Talk / Facebook

When Danielle Palmer was watching coverage of the devastating flooding in Texas, this mom of three decided to clear out the frozen breast milk she had stashed in her freezer.

"I can't imagine being in a situation where you're losing everything and just the fear of all of that," Danielle told News 4. "All I could do was sit and pray for the moms and dads and kids. Beauty can come from this. It won't be bad forever."

Danielle packed her cooler after learning about an organization, Guiding Star Missouri, that was collecting donations, and realizing the impact her extra breast milk could have. "We gave 1,040 ounces and we figured that up, if a normal baby gets three ounces, that's 346 feedings," Danielle said. 

However, the reason why Danielle had so much stored breast milk is equally emotional. Danielle explained that she had such a large amount of extra milk saved because her youngest child, Truett, was born with a congenital heart defect and struggled to breastfeed. "For a big chunk of his life, he was unable to take my milk," she said. "Most of his nutrition came through IV."

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Throughout her son's struggle, Danielle continued to pump and store what Truett wouldn't take. She now hopes that what came from her family's struggle helps not only those who lost frozen milk when the power went out, but also those whose pumps were destroyed or floated away in the water, and those who are dealing with physical effects of stress from this disaster.

"With Truett's heart defect, I don't take that lightly but I also know I'm grateful for the situation God placed us in. It's given us the opportunity to do other things; I mean, had we not been in this situation, we wouldn't be able to share some of our love with the babies in Houston," she said. "With breastfeeding, stress plays a big role in your supply. If you become stressed, your supply will drop." 

For those who are worried about the safety of donated breast milk, Danielle explained that the milk is packed in a deep freezer and will be driven to Dallas for distribution along with other donated milk. She also explained that before the milk is even accepted, the bank rigorously tests it to ensure that it's disease-free and safe for babies. According to the CDC, breast milk isn't a body fluid that requires special handling precautions and although HIV can pass through breast milk, women donating milk who don't have HIV pose little risk to a baby who drinks it. 

Danielle understands that being the best mom you can be isn't just about taking care of your own child -- and that these mamas are grateful for anything at all that you can donate. "We have each other's backs. We take care of each other," she said. "Breastfeeding is hard. Whether you're pumping or feeding or however it may be, it's hard. And we are like momma bears. We protect one another."

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