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Twitter Saves Baby

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When two moms bonded together at a writing conference last year, they had no idea how significant their friendship would become.

woman holding a baby and using computer

Rachel Sarah: It all started when Brandy Brow of Vermont was pregnant with her seventh child. Doctors were concerned about some test results, so Brandy called her friend Angela England in Oklahoma, who's also a childbirth educator.

When Brandy gave birth to Jaeli (JAY-lee) four months ago, they diagnosed her daughter with a chromosome disorder -- it's so rare that only four other people are known to have it. Jaeli wasn't gaining any weight (at four months today, she weighs just eight and a half pounds). Angela tried to offer her new friend some long-distance support.

Brandy is nursing Jaeli on a regular basis, and trying to pump extra milk. Moreover, because of this disorder, among other health problems, Jaeli has had violent reactions to any supplement other than breast milk.

Although breast milk is available through local milk banks, the Brows' Vermont Medicaid will not cover the cost. In order to get breast milk independently, the family must pay upfront with cash. It costs about $5,000 for one month of milk ($4.25 per ounce).

When she heard what her friend was going through, Angela turned to Twitter for help. "Within 24 hours of the first tweet going out, nearly 75 mothers, fathers, and concerned citizens had donated money to buy the milk."

When TypeAMom published Angela's post about getting high-calorie breast milk via Twitter, moms spoke up even louder. An Ohio milk bank soon donated a box of high-calorie milk from the Ohio milk bank -- a donation which has been matched by two other milk banks from around the country.

"We've all seen the blogosphere discussed in negative ways -- people turning on each other and attacking one another," Angela says. "But here is a situation where the online community centered around a little eight-pound baby and rallied on her behalf."

By mid-October, more than 75 individual donations came in from eight different countries, including India, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, England, and more. By the 48-hour mark, every milk bank in the HMBANA network was aware of Jaeli's unique condition and working on her behalf.

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35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie October 20, 2009, 4:56 AM

That’s awesome!!!! It’s amazing how mothers can pull together to get things done!

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Angela England October 20, 2009, 3:40 PM

Thank you so much for posting Jaeli’s story. I have an update - she was released from the hospital today. Which is a really good thing considering how Dartmuth Medical mis-managed her care in so many ways. I am sure Brandy is happy to be heading home as well - and I KNOW that the support and encouragement from everyone meant SO much to her during the last, very rough, few weeks.

Angela >

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Last Wednesday I received a letter from Nestle’ I can say after reading it that they will never see another dime of my income…I have choices and will use them when I shop - even if my shopping is of little impact, it is mine. The letter from their staff doctor, Jose Saavedra, was unbelievable lame…undermining the parents wisdom and what they might believe and concluding the doctors have Jaeli’s best interest at heart in a way that implies the parents do not and are not closest to the situation. It is one very foolish letter that will forever have me a label reader, and never purchase a Nestle or Gerber product again.

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