Demi Frandsen gave birth to beautiful baby Leo two months sooner than expected.
Leo was quickly diagnosed with gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal wall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the muscles that make up the body’s abdominal wall “don’t form correctly”:
A hole occurs which allows the intestines and other organs to extend outside of the body, usually to the right side of belly button. Because the intestines are not covered in a protective sac and are exposed to the amniotic fluid, the bowel can become irritated, causing it to shorten, twist, or swell.
For 10 months, Leo lived at the NICU at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. While 95 percent of babies diagnosed with gastroschisis are expected to survive and live a pretty normal life, little Leo is sadly not part of that statistic.
As WOWT reports, Leo passed away in October 2015, leaving his parents’ hearts completely shattered.
Throughout his stay in the NICU, Frandsen says she tried to breastfeed her son—an attempt to help during the most helpless time in her life:
“With a q-tip we’d put it in my milk and we’d swab his mouth.”
After his death, the grieving mother felt compelled to do something to help other babies, donating 131 gallons of her own breast milk to the very hospital where her son passed away.
The record-breaking donation was no easy feat, either. But Frandsen told Babble she did it all for her late son:
“I pumped every single ounce for him. He is the reason for all of this. But if he couldn’t have it, I am so grateful that other babies like him could benefit from it. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my Leo, and I know other moms feel that desperate love as well. I am glad I can help those moms provide for their little fighter. Other babies surviving from Leo’s milk is just another way his life has affected and bettered the lives of so many others.”
The incredibly generous act is something sorely needed, says Tammi Martin, a lactation consultant:
“For our babies that are very small, for our sickest, tiniest babies whose mothers can’t provide the milk they need. We talk about all the good, positive qualities of breast milk that formula doesn’t have and our smallest babies need those antibodies, those protective factors and growth factors.”
Martin was absolutely floored by Frandsen’s donation, which is 17,503 ounces of their 81,000 total ounces donated to date:
“With all that was going on in her life she found it in her heart to give to other babies.”
Despite everything she’s done to help ease her heartache after Leo’s death, Frandsen says there’s not a day that goes by she doesn’t think of her beloved son:
“He was worth it. He was worth all of this. His life in 10 months was the best 10 months of mine.”
Although Leo might not be with us in the physical sense, his spirit lives on in countless Omaha babies through his mother’s selfless donation.