Two Good Samaritan’s random act of kindness is helping newborns in need and their moms all across the country by way of a pair of HCA Healthcare hospitals that serve as breast milk donation centers.
New mothers themselves, Crystal Gallegos-Trujillo has donated nearly 300 bags of breast milk to affiliate Orange Park Medical Center in Orange Park, Fla., while Laurin Reed has gifted more than 30 gallons of breast milk over a one-year period to HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Stonecrest Medical Center in Smyrna, Tenn.
Why kindness counts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 babies are born too early in the United States. Human milk is especially important for premature or sick babies who are at higher risk of infection. Up to five percent of babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) around the country develop necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal disease that is the leading cause of death in premature infants
However, many times mothers are unable to offer their premature babies breast milk, which contains antibodies to fight disease and infection. With thousands of babies needing life-saving milk every week, there is a significant need for more milk donors.
Sharing the love…and milk
Gallegos-Trujillo, a kindergarten teacher and mom of three, including a three-month-old son, made the selfless decision to donate her extra breast milk to Orange Park Medical after watching two friends experience nursing challenges with premature babies.
“It’s like magic,” Gallegos-Trujillo told the local CBS affiliate of her donated breast milk. “It can help the baby thrive and help build their immune system to get their body going,”
“Her donation is truly amazing. Just one ounce of breast milk will feed a micro-preemie baby for an entire day,” said Donna Pack, a lactation consultant at Orange Park Medical Center.
In total, Gallegos-Trujillo’s gift of life could help more than 1,000 micro preemies.
Also giving birth to a son at a non-affiliated hospital nearly one year ago, Reed overproduced throughout her entire breastfeeding journey and knew she could help “pay it forward” with milk.
“I was exclusively pumping when I recognized that my son wouldn’t accept frozen breastmilk,” Reed said. “I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. I started doing my research on good alternatives and knew that it could help NICU babies.”
“We can’t thank Laurin enough for the difference she’s made in the lives of so many tiny patients around the nation,” said Michelle Browning, director of maternity services at TriStar Stonecrest Medical. “Donated breast milk truly does make a difference in their health and how quickly they are able to get home to their families.”
Partners in care
Both HCA Healthcare hospitals are milk bank depots – a place where pre-approved donor mothers can drop off their frozen milk to be forwarded onto a milk bank where it is tested and pasteurized before distribution to neonatal intensive care units.
Orange Park Medical Center – one of two milk banks in the greater Jacksonville, Fla., area – partners with Mother’s Milk Bank, a Colorado-based nonprofit, while TriStar Stonecrest Medical’s milk depot rounds out a total of seven in Tennessee and transfers its milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin.
Hop on the kindness train
The Florida-based mom says she couldn’t have donated without the support of her coworkers. “They help me with my class throughout the day so I can step away to pump,” Gallegos-Trujillo said.
Reed believes that “education and support is key” for milk donations and depots. “If you’re considering donating milk, do your research and find a reputable source,” she said.
Thanks to both moms for their act of kindness to make a difference in the lives of babies everywhere. If you are interested in becoming a milk donor, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
February 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. HCA Healthcare celebrates the acts of kindness performed through affiliates Orange Park Medical Center and TriStar Stonecrest to help vulnerable babies everywhere.