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Within weeks of giving birth, first-time mother Kyra Davis realized she was producing more milk than her baby needed.
So she began storing it in her fridge and freezer at her San Francisco home.
Davis had heard about the well-documented shortages at donor banks across the country. The problem is particularly acute for parents of sick or premature infants, who may not be able to digest formula as well as human milk.
So to find parents who wanted it, Davis joined several private groups on Facebook that are dedicated to human breast milk exchange.
Some of these Facebook groups are closed, meaning that outsiders can view them but cannot join without approval, such as Human Milk For Babies, a group that has more than two thousand members and promotes donation rather than sales of milk, and Buy, Sell, and Donate Breast Milk, with more than 5,000 members. Others are open pages, like the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network, which has more than 80,000 likes.
Kyra Davis and her son Jude
Davis is now donating her milk to about 7 or 8 families, most of whom she met on Facebook. They’ll pick up 50 ounces or more from her — enough to feed very young babies for at least two days, in most cases — and will often bring small tokens of their appreciation, like a home-cooked meal. Davis does not accept payment for her milk and has donated it in the Bay Area and in Hawaii, where she was recently on vacation.
In an interview, Davis said she was driven by a desire to give back. When her infant, Jude, was in the neo-natal intensive care unit at the University of California San Francisco, she was given a “high suction” hospital grade pump to stimulate her supply. She put her energies into that, and her milk came in strongly and quickly. So she thought about donating it to the bank there, but felt overwhelmed by all the logistical hurdles when her son was still in recovery.
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