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Selfless Mom Helps 100 Babies By Donating 25 Liters Of Her Excess Breast Milk

Danielle and Isabella (PA Real Life/Make Way Photography)

A selfless young mom has helped 100 babies by donating 25 liters, the equivalent of two and a half full buckets, of breast milk.

Shortly after Danielle Croucher welcomed her daughter Isabella in March 2019, she noticed she was producing far too much milk.

And when the freezer of her home in Essex, UK, became overrun with her surplus supply, she began wondering what she was going to do with it all.

Danielle (PA Real Life/Make Way Photography)

Her partner, Rob Dodd, read about donating breastmilk which helps to save sick and premature babies whose mothers cannot nurse themselves.

Jumping at the chance to make a difference, particularly as she knew first-hand what a terrifying place the neonatal intensive care ward can be, having spent time there with Isabella, Danielle decided to donate to Hearts Milk Bank, which is funded by the Human Milk Foundation.

“To date, I've donated 25 liters of milk, which I have been told has helped save 100 babies. Hearing that made me really emotional, and brought home the gravity of what I was doing," she said.

Danielle's donated milk (PA Real Life/Collect)

As breast milk contains nutrients, hormones and disease-fighting compounds, it can help babies grow, develop and fight infection, according to BabyCentre, who also explain that some babies are allergic to formula, or have illnesses that prevent them from absorbing it.

Danielle also feels deeply for the parents of the babies she help.

“The time I had in hospital with Isabella was nowhere near as serious as what some parents face, so my heart breaks for them," she said.

“I can't imagine how it must feel being separated from your baby for so long, or to be trying and trying to pump milk, but the stress you're under meaning your body simply isn't responding. It fills me with love knowing these little babies are being helped."

Rob, Isabella and Danielle (PA Real Life/Collect)

Danielle, who is currently 10 weeks pregnant with her second child, explained how the first week of Isabella's life was spent in hospital.

During delivery at Southend University Hospital, Isabella opened her bowels whilst still in the womb.

In extreme cases, this can be very dangerous, as meconium may be inhaled and can enter the baby's airways.

Danielle's donated milk (PA Real Life/Collect)

“In our case, it caused an infection in both me and Isabella," explained Danielle. “We were in hospital for a week – which felt like a lifetime – and during that time, she kept having to be whisked off to intensive care."

“When she was gone, my body was still producing so much milk that I would need to use a pump."

“Being away from her, even for a few short hours, was really tough. It must be hell for the parents who are apart from their children for weeks, or even months."

Back home, Danielle continued to produce a surplus supply of milk.

According to BabyCentre, week-old infants eat 2.2oz per feed, but she was producing around four to five extra ounces each time.

By the time Isabella was six weeks old, Danielle was using a pump round the clock to relieve the pain and pressure in her breasts.

Danielle's milk being collected (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I stored the extra milk in my freezer, but even then, I kept making more and more. There was no chance we'd use it all," she said. “Rob and I kept saying, 'What are we going to do with all this?'"

“It seemed such a shame to throw it away and let it go to waste."

In May 2019, when Isabella was eight weeks old, Rob spotted an article online about women who choose to donate their excess breast milk.

Rob, Isabella and Danielle (PA Real Life/Collect)

From there, the couple discovered Hearts Milk Bank, which was founded by Human Milk Foundation.

“I had seen a few other milk banks, but I chose that one because you can do everything remotely, which was ideal with a newborn," Danielle explained.

“It was all really easy. I had to fill out a medical questionnaire, which also asked questions about things like lifestyle and diet, then they sent me a kit to take bloods."

She began collecting her milk in bottles sent by the organization.

“Finally, they sent me this kit of boxes and bottles to collect my milk in. The drivers who collect it are part of the same team that handle blood donations, so I know how busy they are and didn't want to waste their time. I waited until I'd filled every last bottle before I arranged a collection," she said.

Recalling when her first donation of 30 bottles was collected soon after and whisked off to a baby in need, Danielle told how she felt incredibly proud.

“I didn't know what to expect, then this big burly bloke on a bike showed up. I took a sneaky picture as it was all so exciting, and such a proud moment," she continued.

Danielle and Isabella the day her first donation was collected (PA Real Life/Collect)

“He said, 'Thank you' to me which was insane – he was the one driving all over the country dropping off these vital supplies," Danielle added.

Since then, Danielle has continued to breastfeed Isabella and donate milk every four to six weeks, saving 100 babies to date.

Though the amount she produces has reduced slightly, she still pumps every morning.

Rob, Isabella and Danielle (PA Real Life/Collect)

“We've bought a special milk freezer now to keep everything separate and make sure there's no cross-contamination," she said.

“Because it's all anonymous I don't know where my milk is going, but I don't need to know specifics – all I care about is that there is a baby out there being helped."

When her newborn arrives, she plans to tandem feed both children, while also donating excess milk for as long as she can.

Danielle's donated milk (PA Real Life/Collect)

By sharing her story, Danielle hopes to call on the country to support a new campaign launched by Elvie asking people to make monetary donations to help keep Human Milk Foundation banks going.

The brand will be matching donations made, up to $16,000.

Their plea comes as a whopping 100 per cent increase in demand for donor human milk has been recorded by the Human Milk Foundation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced vital services to close and caused increased stress across the nation.

Speaking as milk banks brace themselves for demand to skyrocket in December as wards build on reserves to prepare for Christmas, which is always an intense period due to logistical issues like staff shortages.

“In this time of increased stress, where so many vital services aren't available, it's more important than ever for us all to join in and be a team," she said.

“The Human Milk Foundation runs on donations alone, and it costs money to onboard a new donor and set them up with blood testing kits, bottles and so on – plus the access they have to lactation consultants."

“If we all think about it, I'm sure there's something we can go without – take that money, and give it to a good cause instead."

Rob, Isabella and Danielle (PA Real Life/Collect)

“If everyone in the UK gave just £1, imagine how many families that would help, how many babies would get back home sooner, where they belong," Danielle continued.

“That's what it's all about, really – reuniting families and saving the next generation."

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/elvie-milkbanks