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Making an impact in Indianapolis and beyond

Making an impact in Indianapolis and beyond

This blog post was originally published in 2017, when the Sweigart family received media attention for #JosiesImpact. Watch the segments from WISH-TV in Indianapolis and WJAC in Johnstown, PA, and view their Facebook page for recent pay-it-forward activity.

Patricia and Mark Sweigart faced the one thing parents never hope to face: losing their child. Their infant daughter died 18 days after her birth.

While the grief was overwhelming for the first- time parents, Patricia said they wanted to turn their tragedy into a mission of kindness. The couple created Josie’s Impact cards and did nice things for the people that helped them during Josie’s 18 days of life.

“Eighteen days doesn’t sound like a lot. She just wasn’t this dying baby that was lying in an incubator. It was 18 days of our lives that we stayed praying with her.”

Patricia said they heard about another couple that lost a child doing good deeds for others on the anniversary of the child’s death and decided to do something similar.

The cards have a picture of Josie on one side and the other side tells a bit of the Sweigart’s story and instructions to do a good deed. When people did a good deed, they would leave a Josie’s Impact card behind to remind others to pay it forward. They did this for 18 days to represent the number of days Josie impacted their lives.

Josie's Impact cards

Josie's Impact cards

For the 18-day mission, the Sweigarts did something nice for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit staff where Josie was born, took food the NICU parent’s lounge and they even dropped off cupcakes to our staff at The Milk Bank. 

“Throughout the year, I didn’t understand why it was 18 days. I was able to feel what a parent’s love was. She was our only child. She was meant to help hundreds of people. It was a bigger picture than just my family. It wasn’t just to teach me a lesson to trust in God more, it was to help other people open their eyes. It makes you think that you never know what’s going on.” 

The couple started their mission on March 18, Josie’s birthday and since then, they have seen the cards go to 15 states, the United Kingdom and it is still going!

Patricia said they wanted to include The Milk Bank in their 18 days because Josie received donor milk and Patricia became a bereavement donor.

When mom’s own milk is not available, research shows that donor milk is the next best thing, especially for premature infants like Josie.

Josie was born at 28 weeks and Patricia said they knew she might have challenges being born prematurely, but things took a turn for the worst a lot faster than they expected.

“I got diagnosed with preeclampsia at 25 weeks. I was admitted (to the hospital) at 27 weeks and at 28 weeks they (doctors) had to do an emergency C-section,” Patricia said. “Her survival rate was 90 percent. We knew there would be bumps in the road, but we didn’t think she wouldn’t survive.”

By the two-week mark of Josie’s life, things started to look bleak as she was showing signs of infection, but there were some signs of hope.

 “…They told us she had a 50 percent chance of making it through the night. She made it through the night and all her numbers started to look better. When I left the hospital Monday night, the doctor said she was fine.”

However, that hope was fleeting and things quickly worsened.

“We got a phone call at 5:21 the next day that she had coded. We rushed to the hospital, we saw them doing the chest compressions and counting. Her time of death ended up being 6:30. They are pretty sure it was probably pneumonia.”

While the loss of their daughter will forever linger in their hearts, the Sweigerts are thrilled to be welcoming a baby boy soon.  At the time we spoke with her, Patricia was 29 weeks and doing fine. 

“We’re definitely going to do something next year,” she said of doing another mission of kindness. 

*Update* Patricia and Mark are the proud parents of a healthy baby boy. Mom is doing great.*

Bereavement mom finds healing in donating milk

Bereavement mom finds healing in donating milk

Anticipating a new baby is a joy for any parent. It brings the thrill of choosing a name, decorating a nursey and of course, picking out clothes. However, what do you do when all of that suddenly comes to a halt because doctors tell you your baby has zero chance of survival

Donor story: Pushing herself toward the goal

Donor story: Pushing herself toward the goal

Support and determination are two words Lindsey Seitz can relate to. The first-time mom to 10-month-old son, Houston, said she didn’t know much about breastfeeding, let alone being a milk donor, but she was determined to do both.   “After ten month of extreme dedication,…

Bereavement Donation, Healing through Milk Donation

Bereavement Donation

 Healing through Milk Donation

Sarah Long, IBCLC, Clinical Coordinator, The Milk Bank


Far too often, the mom calling us for information about breastmilk donation has just gone through an unimaginable experience; the loss of a child. A child their body had planned to care for, to nurture. A baby, who might have spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a mom who likely had worked very hard to ensure her baby has the best; breast milk.


When that baby is gone, it can be difficult for a mom to know what to do with what milk she might have left over. Her body will likely take some time to adjust to her baby being gone. Breast milk donation can help a grieving mother to have a reason to pump. Donation can help a family feel as though something good can come from their heartbreak.


“Donating filled my heart with such excitement and joy because I knew I was helping these fragile little preemies in honor of my sweet son.”


– Sheri Rukavina on donating after the loss of her son. 




Bereavement donation Ameda Collage



We strive to make becoming a Milk Donor after the loss of a child as easy as possible. We do not require a minimum donation for a bereavement donor but do ask that they submit to our screening process and communicable disease testing if they would like for their donation to be used for inpatients. If the screening and testing are too much for a bereavement donor, we will accept their donation for research. Either way, their milk donations are important and potentially life changing.

In an effort to support a grieving family, we are lucky to have a partner in Amēda, who has given us three hospital grade pumps that we are able to lend to a mom who does not have access to a pump and needs one. These pumps have allowed us to provide even more convenience to a family.

If you know a family who had recently experienced a loss and would like more information about becoming a milk donor, we are happy to speak to them. We can be reached at 877.829.7470 or there is more information here.

We want to hear from you. Has becoming a Milk Donor helped you through the loss of a child?


Donor Story: Kara Fisher

Hi!  Thank you for letting me share my story! A few weeks after my husband and I were married in the summer of 2010, we found out we were expecting.  After a quick calculation, we learned we had a honeymoon baby on the way.  As fall gave way to winter and my stomach was protruding, we learned our baby had a cystic hygroma and most likely would not survive to full term.  It was the most devastating news we could have imagined.  Within a couple weeks of the diagnosis, we lost our honeymoon baby.

Within 2 months, we were blessed a second time to learn I was pregnant again.  We proceeded cautiously yet positively as our hearts were still broken.  At my 20-week appointment, I was diagnosed with Vasa Previa, which is fatal to the baby and possibly the mother is not caught before labor begins.  We felt so lucky that we caught it in time, but now lived in constant fear of me going into early labor...which is exactly what happened at 24 weeks.  I was immediately hospitalized to stop labor and put on bed rest until my scheduled c-section at 36 weeks.  At 36 weeks, I delivered a perfectly healthy baby boy.

I felt as though my body had continually failed me on this journey.  It couldn't carry a baby and then it threatened the life of our second baby.  I wanted to try breastfeeding, but if I had so many complications during pregnancy, would I really be able to sustain a life with milk produced from my faulty body?  I was bound and determined to try.

Donor Story: Kara Fisher |www.themilkbank.orgLike most new mothers, my milk was slow to come in.  With our son being a bit premature, he would get tired quickly from attempting to nurse.  The lactation department at the hospital was excellent at getting me familiar with the pump and giving me positive feedback as I attempted to feed our little boy.  Their advice, let him attempt to feed, then pump after every attempted feeding.  I took their advice and even after going home, I continued to pump after each feeding.  For those first 5 weeks, if our son wasn't nursing, I was pumping.  It was time consuming, it was exhausting, it may have even been a little bit overkill, but I had one heck of a supply in our freezer and for the next year and a few months, I never had a single issue nursing our son.  FINALLY, I felt like my body was doing what it was meant to do!

After our son grew tired of nursing, we had roughly 6 months worth of frozen milk in the deep freeze.  I began thawing it and mixing it in with his food and giving it to him in a sippy cup, as I wasn't about to let my milk go to waste.  At this time, the thought of donation never crossed my mind.

As time passed we entertained the idea of having another baby and thought surely a third pregnancy would have to be easier than the first two.  I am happy to say it was free of any complications and in August of 2013, I delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl.  Within 10 minutes of her being born, she was latched on and my milk was ready to go.  It was like my body remembered exactly what it needed to do.

My husband and I had recently heard about milk donation through the hospital and knew this was something I was meant to do.  My body had fed our son, was feeding and our daughter, and I had enough of a supply to share it with others.  I was able to let go of the feeling that my body had failed me, as it could now not only help our children, but other babies as well.

I had such wonderful support from so many people as I first started down the breastfeeding/pumping road. Once we got home, my husband was there to bring me food, drinks, chapstick, eye drops, everything I needed while I was hooked up to my pump for weeks after our son was born.  The ironic part, my husband works for a formula company (free formula) but he was so supportive of me breastfeeding, even though it was more work for both of us.  After I went back to work, my office had a lactation room set up and I was never made to feel as though I needed to hurry or that I was an inconvenience to them by needing to pump 3x a day.

We won't chance fate by attempting to have any more children, but I would donate without hesitation if the chance came again.

Thank you for letting me share my story!!



Milk Banking: More Than Breast Milk

A couple months ago, I received a call from a nurse at a local hospital. One of her patients had a delivered preterm and the baby did not survive. The thing is, even though her baby did not survive, her body was already making milk and this mom was adamant about wanting to become a milk donor to honor her baby. Without hesitation, I knew what I had to do. I packed up my things and headed to the hospital. When I walked into that dark and quiet hospital room, the air was just different. In that room was a newly-bereaved mom holding her baby. A baby that looked so sweet and perfect and peaceful. A baby who was no longer living. My heart was instantly broken for this woman, for I have experienced a similar loss myself.

For the next two hours, I had the privilege to sit with her, cry with her and even laugh a little with her. I witnessed things that brought back some very painful and vivid memories of the night my son, Michael, passed away and of our last moments together. Was it hard? Absolutely. But I am so very grateful that I was able to use my experience as a tool to help this mom through her difficult time and bring a little light to her darkness.

Someone asked me why I went there that day. My answer was simply, “Because I knew that’s where I needed to be.” I did not plan to go there, but that “interruption” to my daily schedule was life-changing.

I often talk about how much I love my job, but after a day like that, I know even more that I am in the perfect place. Working for The Milk Bank has given me the opportunity to turn my heartbreak into something good and to be a beacon of hope for hurting moms.

I’ve said it once and I will say it again, milk banking is about so much more than the milk.



The Milk Bank hosts classes on milk donation for bereaved mothers

The Milk Bank hosts classes on milk donation for bereaved mothersPerinatal psychology expert presents classes funded by March of Dimes

INDIANAPOLIS – The Milk Bank is offering classes on the value of milk donation for a bereaved mother November 6 at Community North Hospital.


The featured speaker is Jessica Welborn, Co-Director of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana. Welborn is the author of “Lactation Support for the Bereaved Mother, a Toolkit.” She also received her PhD in perinatal psychology from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, with a focus on the psychological impact of donating breast milk following perinatal loss. Welborn also worked for two years as the Donor Coordinator at the Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose, CA. Jessica also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE), a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women's health.


Following Welborn’s presentation, the sessions will include a panel discussion of real mothers and their experiences donating milk after losing a baby.


There will be two separate sessions for this class, and each will include the same content. Attendees can choose to attend from 8:30 to 11:30 AM or 12:30 to 3:30 PM in the Community North Maternity Unit conference room.


The Milk Bank is the only nonprofit milk bank in central Indiana that accepts donor milk from bereaved mothers. They honor these mothers and their children through a remembrance tree in their office, which shares the names of babies whose mothers have donated to serve other infants in need.


The classes are funded by grant money from the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes Indiana has awarded a grant to The Milk Bank to support these classes that are aimed at underserved maternal and child health needs here in Indianapolis. This program will provide bereaved mothers with information about milk donation. This grant is one of many that the March of Dimes awards in pursuit of its mission to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.


To register for class, please contact The Milk Bank at 317.536.1670 or About The Milk Bank Since 2005, The Milk Bank has been committed to providing pasteurized human milk donations to infants in hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) throughout the Midwest. The Milk Bank is a non-profit organization that accepts and pasteurizes human milk donations from fully screened and approved donor mothers, ensuring the highest quality donations. The Milk Bank has milk depot locations in five states for donor convenience. In 2014, The Milk Bank started a partnership with Indiana Blood Center, making each of their locations function as a milk depot has well. For more information, visit



Meet Lauren, Our New Donor Mother Coordinator

By Carissa Hawkins, Communications Coordinator

It was October of 2011 when I received a call from Kathy Mason the Lactation Consultant at Riley Hospital for Children, telling me about about a mom who wanted to donate after the passing of her son.

It was Lauren.

Lauren Duncan Collage WM
Lauren Duncan Collage WM

Michael Duncan was born in September, 2011 at 23 weeks, 6 days. He lived for a month.

Lauren pumped the entire time and was able provide Michael with breastmilk his entire life. The extra came to us.

Now, Lauren serves as our Donor Mother Coordinator, helping us ensure the generous moms who contact us have a quick, pleasant experience.

Please help us welcome her!

Donor Profile: Amy Peters

Donor Profile: Amy Peters 

Dear Carissa,

My story is one of loss but I would like to share it.

My 2nd daughter Genevieve Helene Peters was born on October 8th, 2013. She was 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 19 inches long. She was full term and presumably healthy and we were all so excited, especially her big sister Alivia who is 3. Genevieve was with us for 26 days, a perfect little angel till November 3rd, when she was taken from us so suddenly. We are told that she got an infection in her small bowel that was caused by NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) . This infection turned septic in her bloodstream and she went into septic shock. Doctors and nurses in the ER tried for hours to help her but they were unsuccessful. At this time I was unaware that I could donate the breast-milk that was meant for her to help another baby. It wasn't until I talked to my OBGYN the following day. I had contacted her because I was in so much pain not being able to nurse and wanted to know if there was anything I could do to alleviate the pain.

As soon as she told me that donating was an option, I broke out the pump and was set up before I got off the phone with her. I thought for a moment that this was what I was meant to do. To help another little baby in need. However after my initial pumping which yielded 6 oz. the following session only provided 1 oz. I was devastated.


On top of loosing Genevieve, a hope that I had for her gift to others, was lost. I didn't give up though, I kept pumping every couple hours and ate and drank even though grieving makes you not really care or want to. Finally I started to get more milk during my pumping sessions. However, then one of my flanges broke, I have an older pump so I had to order online. While waiting for the part to be sent, my milk supply started to drop due to only pumping one side at a time. Even after getting the part my milk supply never really went up again and having to go back to work I was unable to pump as often as I would have liked. Even though they were very accommodating whenever I needed to use the office to pump I could I just couldn't pump enough. My husband was also very supportive and knew that pumping was very important to me. My one wish in my journey is that I would have like to have known that my breast-milk could be donated sooner. If I would have kept pumping following Genevieve's passing I would have been able to donate a lot more milk. Waiting for so long to pump reduced my supply dramatically. I really wish that a nurse or doctor had told me sooner. I really think that hospitals should make mom's aware that they can share their wonderful gift at the time of any baby's birth. Just make all mother's aware that there is this option out there whether they plan on nursing or not. All pediatric doctors and nurses should also be aware. Then when a tragedy or loss happens mothers would be able to share as soon as possible.

The thought of being able to help a little baby in need is what kept me going. It gave me hope for the future and donating this precious gift helped me through the grieving process. Genevieve was here, she lived, and she will be remembered, and she hopefully helped save another little angel. My hope is that this gift was enough to bring a baby home in their mother's arms.

Thanks for listening, I hope this was info you were looking for. I would definitely donate again, God willing it would be because I have excess and another newborn that would be willing to share.

I think you are all doing a wonderful thing, and I will do all that I can to help spread the word, so that little infants in need get this amazing gift.


Thank you!

Amy Peters

Note: We recently asked on Facebook if previous milk donors or recipients would be willing to share their story. Below is the letter I received from a Bereaved Donor. If you have a story you would like to share with out readers, please email

Donating Breastmilk HELPS Bereaved Mothers HEAL

Donating breast milk helps bereaved mothers deal with loss

By Katherine Carroll, University of Technology, Sydney


The death of an infant is terrible for both parents, but for many mothers, physical reminders such as lactation, can seem incongruent when motherhood has been cut short. These women can find solace in donating their milk to those in need.

Unlike the majority of breast-milk donors I visited during my research, there were no baby toys scattered across the floor, or a baby, in Liz’s house. Her baby, born 15 weeks premature, had lived for four hours and died in her arms.

Liz is one of 25 women who participated in my research into breast-milk donation to human milk banks. She and one other donor, Beth, donated breast milk after their prematurely-born infants died.

Both Liz and Beth found donating their breast milk beneficial; not only were they helping other hospitalised premature infants, it also helped them work with their personal grief.

Healing through giving

Research from the United States shows that donating breast milk to a human milk bank has helped some bereaved women identify as a mother while grieving the loss of that motherhood.

During my interviews with Liz, she explained that her breasts started producing milk within days of her baby dying. She felt some discomfort and used a breast pump to express her milk to relieve the pressure.

Rather than throwing away her milk, she stored it in the freezer and donated it to the human milk bank. She continued this practice for a period of ten days, slowly allowing her breasts to stop producing milk.

She emphasised how expressing milk from her breasts allowed her time to grieve and cry in private and helped her to begin to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually:

People kept saying, ‘Oh, you’re so generous to donate,’ and honestly I just feel like I am the one who benefited, because it just helped me on all of these different levels.

Beth’s story was different. She continued to pump her breasts to actively produce milk for more than a month after the death of her baby.

For her, providing her breast milk to other premature babies allowed her to feel that something “good” was able to come out of her own personal tragedy:

It gave me something positive because I was helping other little babies in the same situation.

Clearly, donating breast milk to other preterm infants also helps some women find some positive meaning in the death of their own infant.

Lactation after infant death

Mothers of very premature infants in neonatal intensive care need to express breast milk because their babies are too premature to breastfeed. Many of these women build up a store of frozen breast milk and, if their baby dies, some don’t want to throw it away.

Allowing these bereaved mothers to donate their breast milk is potentially healing for them as well as other premature infants.

After her baby dies, a mother’s body will continue to lactate, if she was breastfeeding or expressing milk while her baby was alive. The process of stopping lactation may take a couple of weeks of careful management.

So it’s extremely important for health professionals to discuss lactation with bereaved mothers to prevent complications, such as mastitis. The idea of donating their breast milk could also be raised at this time.

Women with living infants may be more likely to have conversations about lactation issues because they regularly visit health providers with their baby, such as their family doctor, early childhood centre, or community breast-feeding support group.

Lack of national policy

Right now, there’s no national health policy on breast-milk donation in Australia. Nor is there a policy on breast-milk donation after infant death. But more and more research is suggesting that some women may welcome it.

Friends, family and the community at large often find it difficult to talk to mothers about the death of their infant. And lactation after infant death is rarely discussed. It is perhaps for this reason that policies on bereaved milk donation to human milk banks have also been left off the map.

It’s time for Australia to develop national protocols that make it easy for bereaved mothers to donate their milk. Such protocols would need to ensure that federal and state governments, neonatal intensive care units, and human milk banks all recognise the potential benefit of milk donation.

We can be sure that every bereaved mother’s experience of breast-milk production, suppression and donation is different. Any protocols Australia develops for donating breast milk must include the diversity of women’s experiences.

Liz and Beth are just two women who benefited from donating their breast milk. It is time for other bereaved mothers to be given the chance to donate their breast milk to a human milk bank.

The Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank welcomes donation of any size from any family who has experienced the loss of a baby. For more information about our Bereavement Program please click: Here 

Katherine Carroll receives funding from the Australian Research Council 2011-2014 (DP110103025 “Liquid Gold”: establishing the place of donated human milk in the tissue economy”) and from the University of Technology Sydney Early Career Research Grant 2013 "Milk Donation After Neonatal Death".

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

From the Executive Director: Mission Moments

When I reflect back on my six years with the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank, what sticks out the most are the “mission moments,” those times when the generosity of our donors and supports makes what we do here worthwhile. And while the administration of our growing milk bank doesn’t leave me much time to spend on direct service any longer, I always hear about mission moments from my staff.

The most memorable of these acts of love bring smiles or tears, or smiles through the tears:

After his wife became a bereavement donor following the death of their newborn son, a donor’s husband made an unplanned stop at the milk bank while the family was traveling through Indiana to visit friends. The entire family came in to view our giving tree, a display that memorializes babies whose families have donated in their honor. The children found the leaf with their brother’s name, and we took pictures of all of the family members in front of the leaf.  Everyone in the office cried that day, and the family was able to understand our deep appreciation for the lifesaving nourishment they provided to other fragile infants and their families through the milk bank.

We value every donation that we receive, but it was a gift that resulted from another unexpected visit to our building that sticks with me. The parent of a newborn baby that received lifesaving milk through our services stopped at our office after seeing the sign on our door. Right on the spot, he cut a check to benefit our Milk Money & More fund. This parent said he committed to a donation to the milk bank in the neonatal intensive care unit of their local hospital after his fragile newborn received our donor milk before mom was able to produce her own. What a great feeling for us to know that our service is valued in the community.

A mom in our office building uses our break room to pump for her baby. Without fail, she donates what she pumps one day each week. Her consistent commitment helps us meet the critical shortage of donor milk and save more newborns in need.

This story is a little more personal, but shows that anyone can play an important role in delivering the gift of lifesaving breast milk. The day that our pasteurizer broke down, we had milk that needed to be pasteurized, and we had to get it to another milk bank to make that happen. My son dropped what he was doing, drove the milk up to another milk bank where the director stayed late to pasteurize it for us.

I often think of these moments and others when things get stressful or may not be going right. They are what I’ll remember when I’m retired and taking stock of what I’ve done during my lifetime. And, I’m proud to share this unshakeable bond with such amazing mothers, their families and all of our supporters.

Healing the Grief: Kim's Story

Every now and then we receive emails like the one below. These are Kim’s words. We are thankful that she has reached out to us to share her story. Often when we receive these kinds of emails and we are left in tears. Mostly though, we are thankful that moms like Kim have the chance to find healing through donating their breast milk and providing another families’ Aaren with a chance for survival.

Kim’s Story: Aaren’s Milk

On 1/12/13, I delivered my son Aaren @ 38 weeks and he was stillborn. It came as a complete shock as I had a healthy pregnancy and 3 other healthy children. I went in for a routine check up and there was no heartbeat. I refused an autopsy and don’t know why it happened.

I’m a very strong advocate of breastfeeding and decided to still go ahead and pump my milk and donate it. I’m able to pump 30 ounces a day. **I donated 3 weeks worth to a local baby that has a rare skin disease and only takes breast milk.  I’m also donating some to a friend who is back to work and worried about keeping her supply up. Finally, I’m donating the rest to the Indiana  Mothers' Milk Bank because I want to be able to help preemies too. My other son is 17 months and I’ve been giving him 5 oz a day as well.

Pumping my milk is more healing than I thought it would be. I do it 4 times a day for 10 minutes. Those 40 minutes have become very precious to me. It allows me to reflect upon everything that has happened, cry, and pray. It’s very therapeutic to have something positive come from such a traumatic event. When I first started I gave myself the goal of 6-8 weeks. I think I have no problems making it to 8 weeks, but I just hope I can stop when I’m ready and at peace with it. Since this is my last physical connection to my baby, I don’t want it to become an obsession and turn into a ”weird” thing.

I hope you or someone you know never has to experience this kind of loss, but if you do, please keep my story of breast milk donation in mind. From people I’ve talked to and the stories and books I’ve read, it’s not really talked about or even suggested and I hope that can change.

I have 2 more weeks to reach my goal of 8 weeks and then I’ll start to wean myself off from the pump. In total, I will have donated over 1500 ounces of breast milk, which is equivalent to 12 gallons! I wish more than anything in this world that I would have been able to give my milk to my precious baby, Aaren, but I feel blessed to be able to do the next best thing by giving it to babies in need.

If you or someone you know has experienced a loss, there are resources available. The Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank accepts any amount of breast milk from bereaved families and memorializes these gifts with a leaf on a tree that hangs in our office. We also have a private Facebook chat groups where bereaved moms can connect. For more information about how to become a human milk donor, please click here. Kim, Thank you for your brave words! Our hearts are with you and your family!

**The Federal Drug and Food Administration and the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank do not recommend the sharing or consuming of breast milk shared between individuals.

Jen and Dylan: A Love Story

From the moment Jen found out she was pregnant she was in love. It was this love that helped sustain her though what could easily be called the most challenging time in her life.


Jen and her husband Patrick found out early on in the pregnancy that their son Dylan would have many challenges. Jen’s response was, “even if I only had minutes or days, I would be carrying my baby as long as he’d let me. He deserved that much.”

That attitude of persistence continued through her pregnancy until at 36 weeks she was taken in for an emergency c-section. On August 14th, 2011 Dylan was born.  He let out two cries to let his parents know of his arrival and was rushed to the NICU at Wisconsin Children’s Hospital.

Dylan was born with a clift lip and palette, an omphalocele and eyes that were not fully formed and did not function.  There is no diagnosis for Dylan's condition, so doctors have labeled it only as 'Dylan Syndrome'. With all of these challenges, Jen says, “Dylan knew love, and that's all he knew. And it poured out of him to you.”

All throughout Dylan’s short life, Jen did her best to provide the best for him. The best attitude, never was there any sorrow or anger in Dylan’s NICU room and of course Jen provided him the best nutrition; her breast milk.

After Dylan’s passing a nurse at Wisconsin Children’s Hospital reach out to the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank about the possibility of donating Jen and Dylan’s excess milk. IMMB has received 2,444 ounces from Jen and Dylan.

“Donating my milk was just the right thing to do.  If I can help one baby, I feel like I did something special.  And in all honesty, it's really Dylan helping those other babies. He was a very special baby and I am reminded of that daily“, Jen said of her reasons for donating.

Jen and Patrick started a team for March of Dimes named Devoted to Dylan. Currently they are the number one team in Wisconsin and one of the top 10 in the United States. They have raised $20,000 for the March of Dimes. Their goal was $750. “If that doesn't tell you how special Dylan was and is, I don't know what will.”

We here at IMMB are so touched by stories like these. If you have a story you would like to share with us, please email us at