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    This was what motivated Melissa Menes and her husband Justin, owners of an events coordination company and parents to Mika, 10, and Joshua, 7, to donate breastmilk shortly after their daughter Kat passed away a day after she was born. Here is Melissa’s story, in her own words:

    “My daughter was diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia on the fifth month of my pregnancy, during our congenital anomaly scan. The prognosis was not good, but we wanted to continue with the pregnancy and give her the best chances possible. From research, we learned that if she made it past the first few hours, it could still take months before she could leave the incubator and directly breastfeed, so we bought an excellent electric pump from Babymama, a local company. We promised our baby that even if she didn’t make it, we would commit to donating milk to give other babies a chance.

    Our daughter, Katherine Ryu, was born on July 29, 2012, at 37 weeks. She gave out five small cries. She was beautiful. She was perfect. As we had begged in our prayers, she miraculously survived the first few seconds, first few hours, until she reached her first full day. Her lungs and heart started to fail shortly after her operation, and after several attempts, the doctors asked if they should stop resuscitation. Our family was with us as we said our last goodbye in the privacy of Makati Medical Center’s breastfeeding room. It’s very rare for parents to know in advance that their baby might not live -- in our case, we had three to four months to prepare ourselves -- and while it cushioned us from the shock, it did not lessen the pain.

    My milk came on the night she died. Thus, even before we left the hospital, we were able to donate colostrum-rich breastmilk to the NICU.

    When we got home, I decided that I could share my breastmilk to others who need it. I wasn’t so sure if I would have the willpower while I was still pregnant, but I seem to have found my conviction to do it. After a week or so, I purchased more items to make the experience easier (the Wish Bra, the Babymama bag with insulated cooler, and more milk bags). Until now, I bring the bag with me to events and pump in the car. I actually feel irritable if I can’t pump, since I know my milk supply is so important to other babies!


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