Premature lifeline: The baby saved by milk from another mother
By Natasha Courtenay-Smith
After the Kate Garraway breast-milk storm, another mother tells of the gratitude she will always feel for the donor of her baby’s breast milk
At just three, Faith Potter has already endured more than most – born at just 24 weeks, she’s already had a blood transfusion, an operation to close a valve in her heart and another to remove part of her bowel.
She also has chronic lung disease that’s left her susceptible to infection and has only recently started walking and talking.
However, Faith is thriving. Tests have revealed that the little girl, who weighed just over 1lb at birth, has no permanent brain damage and, in time, is expected to catch up with her peers.
Her mother, Fiona, 42, believes one of the reasons she is doing so well today is because in the hours and days following her birth she received donated human breast milk from one of the UK’s 17 milk banks.
‘When Faith was born, her hand was the size of an adult thumbnail and her fingers were like grains of rice,’ says Fiona, who lives in Farnborough with her partner Anthony, 28.
‘Her eyes were fused shut and her entire body was about the length of my hand. She stopped breathing shortly after her birth and, at that moment, I feared the worst.
‘Anthony and I had already lost our son Hayden, who was born at 19 weeks, the year before. We couldn’t believe we were in the same situation again. We were terrified.’
Faith was resuscitated and put on a ventilator. After being transferred to the neonatal unit at the Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in West London, Fiona was told that her daughter could either be tube fed using formula or donor human milk. She had never heard of the latter, but instinctively thought it was better.
‘I’d been planning to breast-feed Faith but, at that point, I wasn’t producing milk properly,’ says Fiona, a human resources director.
‘It was hard at first to let Faith have milk from another woman, but her life was hanging in the balance. I’ll never know who donated the milk that helped Faith, but I will for ever be grateful to her.’
In the month that GMTV presenter Kate Garraway caused controversy by posing as if she is breast feeding a calf – to promote a documentary about women who breast feed other people’s babies – Fiona’s experience makes fascinating reading.