(ABC NEWS) – When Mikah Duncan’s son was born three months premature, he was taken to the NICU at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and she was told there was nothing she could do to help — except pump breast milk.
“I couldn’t touch him, I couldn’t hold him,” Duncan told ABC News. “So I decided I was going to pump my heart out. It was all I could do.”
She named her son “Cash.” His early arrival was a complication resulting from Duncan’s shortened cervix. Surgery mid-pregnancy enabled Cash to continue to grow, but at 24 weeks, Duncan started to leak fluid. Cash was born one week later.
When she began pumping, Duncan said she was only able to get a syringe’s worth. But the hospital nurses were so encouraging, she said, that she kept at it, every two hours around the clock.
“My husband would wheel me down to the NICU to deliver this tiny bit of milk and I felt so defeated,” she said. “But I had to keep trying.”
Soon, Duncan said, the tiny bit went to 2 ounces, then 4, then 6. A NICU nurse told her she had plenty stored for Cash, and Duncan should start storing up at home.
“I realized that he probably wasn’t going to be able to eat everything I had stored at both the hospital and home,” she said. “So I decided to donate it.”
JoAnn King, a spokesperson for the hospital, said that when Cash was first-born, Duncan had signed a consent form allowing him to receive donor milk if needed. That form, she said, came to mind when the subject of donation of the milk in the freezer came up.
“I was just hoping I’d have 100 ounces,” Duncan said. The hospital requires 100 ounces as the minimum amount to make a donation.
The amount Duncan actually donated was 15.5 gallons.
King said that once the breast milk was taken out and added up, she snapped a photo to capture the moment before the breast milk had any chance to thaw. She posted that photo to the hospital’s Facebook page, where King said it received very positive feedback. It was the largest single donation the hospital has ever collected.
As for Cash, he was released from the hospital on Tuesday. He is home with is parents and thriving. Duncan said she is so happy to donate to another child who may be in a similar situation as her son was.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “Just to help in some small way.”