A Blackpool mum who lost her young daughter at the age of just six weeks today told how she hopes her pain can help save the lives of other babies.
Louise Threlfall, from South Shore, has donated almost four litres of frozen breast milk she had saved for her baby girl when she recovered from open heart surgery.
But little Isla Elizabeth Leaf, who was born with a rare congenital heart defect, suffered a cardiac arrest and two bleeds on the brain before she died on January 22.
Mum Louise, a college lecturer, said she had kept the milk “out of love” for her daughter and did not want it to go to waste.
The 31-year-old added: “I am inconsolable some days because of what has happened but I do know, on the back of it, something good has happened.
“There is a positive even if it is not the outcome I wanted.
“It’s giving other babies a chance – there is hope for other people through what I have done.”
The donations have been screened and tested by experts at the North West Human Milk Bank and are now set to help young babies at hospitals across the North West, including Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Most of them will be premature and the milk will ensure they get a decent chance at life.
Louise said she never knew about the service when she had her son Jack, three, but was told about it by staff at Alder Hey Hospital when they were caring for Isla.
She added: “The reason why it is really important is because premature babies can’t digest formula.
“I donated 3.7 litres of the stuff – nearly two Coke bottles full.
“When I was on the ward, the only thing I could do for her was express milk and they were freezing it for her.
“I was making so much it was going to go to waste – I said please, whatever you do, don’t throw it away.”
Now, after having had her milk screened and tested to make sure it is safe for other babies, Louise has been sent a certificate, thanking her for her donation.
She said: “I was so chuffed with it, I really was.”
Annie Atkinson, operations manager at the North West Human Milk Bank, thanked the “amazing” mother for her support.
She said: “The main purpose for the milk bank is for premature and poorly babies.
“These babies have an extra need because they are still developing and growing. They need human milk to do that.
“It’s really important to give these babies a good chance at life.”
The milk bank has a team of volunteers drivers that help transport donations to and from its depots – in Preston, Hull and Wythenshaw – as well as the hospitals that use the milk.
For more information about the work of the milk bank, visit www.northwesthmb.org.uk