Mid-Missouri Mom Gives Breast Milk to Orphans
New mother Jill Youse is taking a few extra bags as she packs for a 2-day road trip.
"This is all me!" she exclaimed.
That's at least 100 bags, each bag carrying 6-12 ounces of breast milk, from a woman who thought she would never breastfeed.
"My mom didn't breastfeed me and I thought it might kind of hurt and I wasn't too sold on it," Youse explained.
But, after she gave birth to her daughter, Youse's husband, Jeremy, a 4th-year University of Missouri medical student, helped his wife change her mind.
"One of the things I noticed on my rotations was that the mothers that breastfed their children had an extra special bond," he recalled.
Youse soon found she had more milk than her infant daughter needed.
"I started researching giving breastmilk," Youse added. "And I found out there was no way to give it to the kids that need it the most."
So, after learning South African children who don't breastfeed are six times more likely to die, Youse started a website to donate her milk.
"These HIV orphans need the breastmilk more than anybody," she explained.
On Tuesday night, the Youses drove Jill's breast milk to Chicago, where they plan to give it to a volunteer to fly the milk to New York. From there, the precious cargo boards a 15-hour flight to South Africa. After landing in Johannesburg, a final flight takes the milk to a Durban orphanage.
"It feels like an extension of myself," added Youse, who hopes to continue the long-distance milk runs. "It feels like I'm really doing something meaningful, and I really feel fulfilled."