With support from Children’s Lactation team and Mothers’ Milk Bank, Kelly’s donation has impacted families nationwide.
Some people are able to make a profound impact in a short period of time on Earth – and that was certainly the case for baby George.
Born in September 2022 after a seemingly healthy pregnancy, George perplexed his team of doctors right off the bat by not crying or eating for hours. But it’s when his oxygen levels dropped and a nurse witnessed him having a seizure that everything took a turn. Follow-up testing and an MRI revealed a rare condition: polymicrogyria, a condition characterized by abnormal development of the brain before birth.
George was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Nebraska one month after this diagnosis, where his recurrent seizures continued—lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours. His condition was severe, resulting in seizures that couldn’t be controlled by medication, muscle weakness, problems with swallowing and feeding and more.
Although George’s mom, Kelly, had her heart set on breastfeeding—just like she’d done with her other two children, William and Molly—she pivoted, doing what was best for George. During his NICU stay, Kelly began to pump, and milk was provided through George’s g-tube.
“I was crushed but clung to any part of the plan that I could,” Kelly said. “From the minute he was admitted to the NICU, I kept pumping. I just wanted that for him and wanted to give him the best start I could.”
Kelly soon realized her supply was significant and began freezing milk. With enough for George and other babies, her milk donation journey began. A journey that would continue even after George passed away at eight months old.
Small but mighty, George exceeded doctors’ expectations, spending six months at home with his family. Six months filled with family walks and trips to the zoo, museum and park. “We were told he likely wouldn’t walk, talk or even smile, but he just exceeded everyone’s expectations and thrived in his own way at home,” Kelly said. “And he did smile quite a bit—at least once a day—beating the odds there, too.”
While facing an unimaginable loss, Kelly turned her grief into continued action. With ongoing support from her family and Children’s Lactation team, she donated more than 8,600 ounces to Mothers’ Milk Bank Colorado leading up to George’s 1st birthday. Kelly’s tremendous gift was distributed to 29 facilities in 11 states, impacting nearly 50 families across the country.
Children’s partners with Mother’s Milk Bank Colorado to help collect and transport donated milk from qualified donors in our area. Our Milk Depot accepts donated milk and safely transports it to Mother’s Milk Bank for screening, pasteurization, processing and distribution across the country.
“My donation was because of him. It was hard, but George kept me going to donate for other babies,” Kelly said. “Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Even after he passed, I continued to donate for him and I just kept thinking of how he’s making a difference for his friends in the NICU or anyone struggling with breastfeeding. That meant the world to me.”
“It became a family thing for us too,” she added. “My other two children would see me pumping and ask if I was going to give the milk to other little babies. I got to teach them about what I was doing.”
Kelly’s generosity, perseverance and resilience are inspiring. She has gifted other babies and families not only with nourishment but with strength and love—all in honor and memory of George.
“Pumping is hard work but there’s so much support from Children’s Lactation team and Mothers’ Milk Bank that you don’t have to worry about the other stuff,” Kelly said. “Mothers’ Milk Bank provides free bags if you’re donating and Children’s took care of all the logistics. I just did drop-offs and they made the experience so positive. It was easy to see the love and consideration they put into their work.”
If you’re interested in donating or want to learn more about the resources and support available through Children’s Lactation team and Milk Depot, contact our team today by calling 402-955-6152 or emailing [email protected].