A grieving mum whose newborn daughter passed away has donated 700oz of breast milk to a stranger in need – and saved another baby’s life.
Hair stylist Jenny Rogers, 34, gave birth to Everly Jade via C-section at 31 weeks after doctors discovered the tot was suffering from intrauterine growth restriction.
As Everly fought in intensive care, Jenny lovingly pumped milk every three hours and stored the supplies in the hospital fridge.
But tragically Everly, who weighed just 1lb 40z, passed away aged six days old.
Instead of letting her precious stash go to waste, Jenny decided to donate her milk to another mum, Dianne Burnett, 33, after a mutual friend put them in touch.
Dianne’s baby girl Merrytt was battling a respiratory virus and had suffered a reaction to formula, but PCOS sufferer Dianne was unable to produce enough milk to feed her.
So far, first-time mum Jenny has donated more than 700oz of her breast milk to Merrytt, now two months, to grow to a healthy weight and fight off the illness.
One month on from Everly’s death on January 9, Jenny continues to pump milk and the families refer to Everly as Merrytt’s “guardian angel”.
Jenny, who lives with her husband Hal, 33, in Lubbock, Texas, said: “When we got Everly’s diagnosis we were broken-hearted and scared.
“The doctors prepared us for the worst and the words they used were that she might ‘expire’ in the womb.
“We tried to celebrate every day and moment. Every night I prayed and thanked God for what I had going to sleep with what I had when I woke up – a kicking baby.
“By the grace of God, we made it into the third trimester and delivered at 31 weeks 3 days on January 3.
“Everly was amazing. She was the most precious 1lb princess I have ever laid eyes on.
“She was only alive for six days but those days were so big for her and very precious for us.
“When she passed away I didn’t want my hard-earned milk to be thrown in the trash.
“My baby isn’t able to take it but I am so grateful that Merrytt can benefit from it.
“When you are a grieving mother, your body doesn’t know you are grieving so you keep producing milk.
“It seems like the most normal thing for me to keep pumping. It just feels like this is what I am supposed to do.”
Dianne, a marketing director who lives with her husband Keagan, 26, in Paris, Texas, said Everly is her daughter Merrytt’s “guardian angel”.
The mum-of-two said: “When Merrytt was born 3.5 weeks early I was trying my best to breastfeed and she would nurse for hours at the time but it wasn’t normal.
“The poor thing looked so bad we could tell she had lost weight and wasn’t healthy.
“We tried her on formula but she would get a rash and throw up. She wasn’t tolerating it and I didn’t have enough supply to give her.
“At four weeks she was diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus which was really scary.
“I knew especially with the flu season that I just wanted her to have breast milk to help ward off the illness.
“Around that time, I got a phone call from one of my friends, a photographer who took my birth photos and took photos of Everly.
“She said, ‘Jenny Rogers wants to give you her milk,’ and she filled me in.
“When I heard about Everly my heart broke.
“I couldn’t help but feel a little selfish because I thought I was going through such a hard time but she had lost her baby.
“Jenny feels like family. We talk every day and I send her pictures of Merrytt. She is like her second mum.
“Having the breast milk has done wonders for Merrytt. She is healthy and all her problems have gotten a whole lot better.
“She is a completely different baby. I am extremely grateful to Jenny and we call Everly Merrytt’s guardian angel.”