Born 14 weeks early • 2 lb and 2 ounces
Mason was born on February 25, 2016 – 14 weeks prematurely – at the exact same time I was born, 4:17 p.m. He weighed 2 lbs 2 oz and was 14 inches long. You always think that when you have a baby, you’ll be able to hold your baby, but I didn’t get to hold him right away. They immediately took him to the little station with a million NICU nurses around him, and we didn’t hear him cry! I stared at them for what felt like a long time until they said, “He’s okay.”
Mason was too premature to breastfeed, so I started pumping my milk for him immediately, knowing how important it is for preemies to get all that nutrition. I pumped every few hours and he only needed a tiny amount. After the first two weeks, we moved him to another hospital and they began fortifying my milk with a Prolact+ H2MF human milk-based, human milk fortifier for the extra nutrition he needed.
Read his complete story >>
Born 23.5 weeks gestation • 1 lb and 8 ounces
Click here to view a timeline of her 131 days in the NICU >>
Baby Rosalee’s Story
I delivered my daughter Rosalee at 23 weeks 6 days gestation due to chorioamnionitis, a serious infection of the amniotic fluid that sent me into premature labor. It was 4 days after Christmas, and Rosalee’s fate was anything but certain. She weighed only 1 pound 6 ounces, was 35 cm long; her tiny body was gelatinous and severely underdeveloped. We spent 99 days in the NICU, coincidently I delivered unexpectedly at the same hospital I worked as a high risk obstetrical nurse.
During Rosalee’s hospital stay, I remember feeling like everything was beyond my control. Watching her fight for her life, I had never felt more devastated or helpless as a mom. We had no idea what her quality of life would be; her prognosis was poor. She was on a ventilator and very sick, her tiny body was able to fit in the palm of my hand, yet she had so many lines and machines hooked up to her frail body, and was facing such a long and uncertain road. I couldn’t touch her for the longest time, because her skin was paper thin and my touch produced too much stimulation that sent her oxygen levels plummeting. I was not able to hold her until she was a month old, I couldn’t feed her or bathe her. The only thing I could do was pray and talk to her. And that’s exactly what I did. I read to her every single day, and talked to her inside of her incubator as we watched her grow and fight. During her fight for her life, Rosalee had a grade 3 brain bleed, her eyes were still fused at birth and she was later diagnosed with an all too common but advanced stage 3 Retinopathy of Prematurity. She survived 2 rounds of sepsis, was on a jet ventilator for a month, had countless blood transfusions, severe gastric reflux, along with terrible circulation issues turning her fingers black, and so much more.
I had been pumping breastmilk for Rosalee since the day she was born. She had been receiving nutrients through her IV and what the nurses called ECI, early colostrum introduction, where they would swab her mouth with a Q-tip filled with my breastmilk to prepare her tiny, fragile and underdeveloped stomach to handle feedings. They would let me swab her mouth, and she would open it like a little bird and look so content in those moments. As time went on, they would increase the breastmilk a little more as feeds progressed. I came in her room one morning to do a feed with Rosie. It was so comforting to me, and one of the few things I was able to help with during that time. She would hear my voice, and instantly her oxygen levels would increase and she would begin to wiggle and respond to my voice. I set my things down and looked up to see a nurse with a formula product in her hands. Confused, I asked what was going on. I had more than enough breastmilk supply for Rosie, the freezer was full of it -- I had literally produced so much they had started using a second box in an additional storage bin. The nurse told me it was protocol for the hospital to supplement my breastmilk with a fortifier to ensure Rosie got all the nutrients she needed. I didn’t like that answer.
It wasn’t that I was against fortifier , but because I knew Rosie was so underdeveloped and formula company fortifier is cow milk-based. If a term baby could not tolerate cows’ milk at times without getting sick, how in the world could my Rosie, who wasn’t even supposed to be born yet, whose gut was not even fully developed? I already knew necrotizing enterocolitis was a real possibility in Rosie, and preemies in general. Her doctors had spoken to me about the possibility of it when we had started feeding. I looked at Rosie’s nurse and said, “We’re not going to do that.” I remember her looking pretty bewildered and not sure how to respond to me. “Emily, this is protocol. She needs the extra nutrients.” I responded, “Yes but we aren’t going to do that for her. I want to talk to her doctor.” The nurse, very obviously shocked, walked out of the room.
Rosie’s doctor came in to talk to me, and explained to me the hospital protocol of these supplemental feeds and that they were intended to fortify my milk with added nutrients that were needed for micro preemies like Rosalee to ensure adequate nutrition for her to grow and develop properly. I had no problem with fortification or added nutrients, but all I could think about was the possibility of Rosie developing NEC. We had come so far. I addressed my concerns with her neonatologist with her nurse standing in the corner. I felt so uneasy. Was I wrong in addressing this? Was I being irrational? Rosie’s neonatologist listened attentively to my concerns. I refused the protocol and insisted she have my breastmilk alone, unsure of what the next step was. I told them I wanted to do some research on my own and asked if we could revisit the conversation after that. Her doctor agreed. Her healthcare team left the room when we finished talking and I remember being very afraid and uncertain of what to do, hoping I was doing the right thing for my little girl.
When Rosie’s neonatologist made his rounds, I presented him with my highlighted mound of research. We spoke at length. I asked about liquid vitamins by mouth, as well as a chromatocrit machine. I asked how much longer we could do hyperalimentation or TPN, the IV nutrients that Rosie had been receiving. These were hard on her liver to metabolize long-term, and vitamins were hard for her little body to break down too. The hospital didn’t have a chromatacrit machine to measure the value of my milk. After exhausting every other option, I asked about Prolacta products.
Her doctor told me approval would have to be obtained from administration, and that would take some time. It did. I emailed Prolacta personally and shared Rosie’s story with a company representative putting -- her directly in touch with Rosalee’s Neonatologist. Over the course of the next couple of weeks while we waited for answers and spoke with administration, Rosie continued to receive my breastmilk solely per our wishes. But an x-ray revealed she had started to develop rickets in her hand. Her bones were softening. I was devastated and terrified of it progressing and knew at that point she needed fortification quickly. We spoke to case managers, neonatologists, nurse managers, and made our wishes known. I spoke to our insurance company and pleaded with them to help us cover the cost and explained why she needed it. They sent a letter agreeing to cover the cost of Prolacta products. But the hospital would have to absorb a portion of the cost, and it was pricey. We reached the very top of administration and demanded the absolute best for our daughter and would not accept anything less. Resistance was met, but I pressed harder. I knew Prolacta’s product was safe, and in my mind, bovine-based fortifier was not an option for my daughter. We had spoken to the head of administration that morning, had exhausted every avenue and had spoken to all of the powers that be in that time.
I was at home when I received the phone call from the hospital. Prolacta fortifier was being flown in for Rosalee. I melted in the floor of my kitchen floor sobbing in relief. Within a short time frame, Rosalee was receiving the Prolacta fortifier. The rest is history. Rickets, brain bleeds, hospitals, and ventilators are all in Rosie’s past. We never had one scare with NEC. And, as a result of her amazing outcome, the hospital changed its policy to incorporate Prolacta products as the new standard of care protocol for all premature babies in the NICU. The hospital even developed a human milk bank subsequently and was the first in the area to do so, and now provides pasteurized human donor milk to all babies term or preterm in need.
Today Rosalee is an absolute miracle. She is a healthy, thriving, strong, talking and walking 20 month old little girl with absolutely no delays or deficits. Sometimes I look at her and am completely overwhelmed at all she has come through and amazed at what I see. She is the strongest person I know. I cannot say enough about what I witnessed from watching her receive the gift of Prolacta. Every single health issue we have faced has resolved in time. Today, meeting her you would never know that at one point she was a tiny amazing human being as long as an ink pen lying in an incubator on a ventilator fighting for her life. You would never suspect there was a time that she could not see and had eyes fused shut, microscopic fingernails with hands as small as my fingertips, skin you could see through with a severe brain bleed and black fingers that weren’t getting oxygen and trying to necrose or that for months I did not know if each hour would be her last. Looking at her today, you’d also never think that by some hospital standards, she was not even considered viable and resuscitation would not have been an option.
Rosalee has inspired a host of lasting change in everyone and continues to help countless other babies after her. She reminded everyone that watched her fight that God still performs miracles every single day. I couldn’t be more proud to be her mother or more grateful for what God, her healthcare team and Prolacta did for her. Thank you all for letting me share my story.
Emily Lamb, RN
Baby Kennedy's Story (featured on www.king5.com)
Arrived 11 weeks early, weighing under three pounds
Read more on www.king5.com
Baby Vivian’s Story
Born October 2012 at 26.5 gestation • 1 lb and 4 ounces
Dear Prolacta Bioscience,
My family felt like we won the lottery when we found out the NICU in Hoffman Estates, IL would be offering Prolact+ H2MF for the first time ever to my beautiful baby Vivian, who was born at 26.5 weeks gestation weighing only 1 lb. and 4 ounces. My baby was born early because her umbilical cord and placenta were failing due to numerous blood clots and placenta previa.
After she was stabilized, the doctors delivered to me and my husband the best news we got since we endured several setbacks for about three weeks after she was born. The doctors had obtained clearance from the hospital to start sourcing Prolact+ H2MF and our Vivian would be the first baby to receive it! I remember crying with joy because of the hope that Prolacta provided to me personally.
When a mom delivers a baby that early, it is truly hard work to get milk production to come in since the milk ducts are not fully matured at 7 months of pregnancy. With the help of the NICU nurses and doctors who continually reiterated that breast milk was the only option to get my baby to grow and survive and fight for her life, I was under the gun to provide. And my milk did come miraculously! Albeit it was just enough to feed her every day through her feeding tube in her mouth. However, I was warned that my breast milk would likely not have enough calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus and that a fortifier was the protocol the NICU implemented to fill in the extra vitamin gaps. After testing my breast milk, it was only averaging about 19 calories. She obviously needed more to catch up. A fortifier was necessary and would be added to my breast milk. After hearing and reading about the bovine-based fortifiers my daughter would be on, I was mortified that she would likely get NEC, a horrific gastrointestinal infection that I saw a few preemies in the NICU sadly fight. The baby’s incubator next to our daughter in the NICU got NEC not once, but twice, and died after two months from complications. I witnessed that baby and her family, endure the worst nightmare as my baby lived in her incubator a few feet away.
I thought for sure my daughter was next. Especially when we received a horrific phone call from the hospital staff early one morning after a few days on the standard cow milk-based fortifier, that my daughter may have come down with NEC since a nurse discovered blood in her stool overnight. I threw the phone down and screamed with sadness. I cried because I was devastated my daughter not only would fight for her life, but she would go through the suffering I saw a few preemies around us go through. However, later that morning as I was driving to the hospital to be with my daughter, the nurse called to tell me that her x-rays showed that she did not in fact have NEC as initially believed, but she was probably intolerant to the fortifier. My heart lifted with joy! However, as I continued my drive to the hospital after receiving the confirmation she didn’t have NEC, I worried about what the hospital would do to help her grow if my breast milk wasn’t enough and she couldn’t take the fortifier they had.
The next day, the NICU doctors gave us the news that Prolact+ H2MF would be coming for my daughter. I cried, but again felt worried about what Prolact+ H2MF was. It was something new-never used in the NICU before at the hospital. I felt again fear that maybe my daughter would experience a negative side effect from the product or still get NEC from it or another infection. Where was the human milk coming from? Did it have anything in it that could possibly cause her harm? Why are women donating milk? I had so many questions so I went home with my husband and found all the answers on the Prolacta video clearly detailing how serious the company took their product, including the extensive DNA testing they did, the numerous safety nets their scientists put in place to prevent bacteria from growing in the product and the wide research they conducted reiterating their findings that the product may reduce the chances of NEC. My husband and I were sold! We cried when we saw the video and were so happy to have that available to educate us. We were certainly impressed and grateful that people saw the need for Prolacta and made such a beautiful product that would give our baby a better outcome. We found the video so helpful, we alerted the NICU dietician and the NICU doctors to watch the video themselves! They too were impressed.
My baby used Prolact+ H2MF from the end of October 2012 all the way through January 2013 and grew, and grew and grew! She never once contracted an infection during her four month stay in the hospital. She was so sick when she was born, on a ventilator for 21 days total, had a PDA ligation 23 days after birth and became intolerant to the cow milk-based fortifier. But all those issues were solved. She overcame it all, clearly with the help of Prolacta on her side.
We came home from the hospital after four months. My baby weighed 5 lbs. 8 ounces. It was quite a change from the mere 1 lb. 4 ounces she entered the world as. My daughter would never have made it to that homecoming weight without Prolact+ H2MF. God Bless the company and people who work to help NICU moms and babies, and to all the moms who donate breast milk to support such a necessary option. Prolacta will definitively become a staple, a normal protocol for micro preemies in the NICU in years to come in hospitals around the world. We certainly believe that.
Thank You So Much For Making A Product That Means So Much To Families & Babies Who Fight With Everything They Have To Live!
Frank, Linda, Big Brother Torey & Baby Vivian Prestia
Baby Akuu’s Story
I am a mother that has faced tragedy that many women have not had to endure. A brief history on what has taken place in my life. I am a mother that has faced difficult pregnancies that resulted in 7 miscarriages, 1 still birth son at 38 ½ weeks and most recently found myself pregnant with twins.
Although, I was ecstatic about being a mother again, the fear due to my past pregnancies was overwhelming. What was worse for me to face then to find myself facing premature labor. On October 16, 2009, I had an emergency cesarean performed due to a placenta eruption. I delivered Twin ‘A’, Miiche, was born 2lbs 7oz, and Twin ‘B’, Akuutechem was born 1lb 7oz. My Miiche, was born with very immature lungs that collapsed repeatedly. Sadly, I had to face the loss of again another child, Twin A, Miiche, passed on October 17, 2009.
Her twin Akuu, has also had to fight for her life since taking her first breath. She came into this world with many challenges but is continuing to struggle daily as she fights to beat the odds. Her challenges are many. She had 4 holes in her tiny heart and one large PDA, 3 VSD’s lung disease, thyroid not producing the hormones, and the inability to produce red blood cells. With all these ailments she has also had to face the risk of numerous transfusions. She underwent surgery in December to close the PDA. Akuu has had to be intubated several times and she had times where her gut was not moving because she had an infection and the doctors feared for a devastating disease called necrotizing enterocolitis. As you can see every day has been a challenge.
I am certain that this is a lot to take in at this moment but let me express some positive outcomes that I have encountered. First and foremost, I feel very fortunate to be at University Hospital in Texas, where as a mother I was able to choose an entirely human nutrition for my baby girl, Akuu, and them providing Prolacta the 100% maternal milk fortifier. I was fearful with them being premature that my milk would not produce at a rate necessary for their growth. I was told that although my body would produce breast milk, it did not have a sufficient amount of calories and that they would need to use a fortifier. My initial fear was that she would have to be given formula instead of breast milk, which I was not happy about. Being a mother that knows all the benefits of breast milk, I expressed concern and they shared with me that she could be given Prolacta, the human milk fortifier.
Having the human milk fortifier has given me some peace of mind, since I was already informed that my child had a very high risk of necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC, and that Prolacta had additional protection. I hope and pray that all premature infants are afforded the same opportunity for life as my daughter had. The little I know of NEC has terrified me and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing another child. Thank you for your time.
Chance and Sienna
In January of 2009, at a little over 27 weeks of gestation, Chance and Sienna had surprising New Year’s plans. With three months left before their due date, they decided to make their grand entrance into the world while mom and dad were vacationing just outside of Sarasota, FL. Chance made his entry weighing two pounds, three ounces, and Sienna arrived weighing one pound, 15 ounces.
Although they arrived so early, the twins still had a good first week in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Sienna was weaned from a ventilator a few hours after birth, and Chance was extubated on day five. Approximately seven days after their birth, however, Chance began having gastrointestinal problems that required surgical intervention and had to be moved to a NICU in St. Petersburg, FL. Almost two weeks later, Sienna also began exhibiting similar issues and joined her brother in the NICU in St. Petersburg for further evaluation but thankfully didn’t require surgery.
While Chance and Sienna experienced excellent care by all the NICU caregivers who helped them, they also had someone very special in their life who was their most fierce advocate – their mother. Mom was a pediatric occupational therapist, and a certified lactation counselor who worked in a Level III NICU at another hospital. She had no doubt as to what was best for her twins, especially when it came to their diet.
“I knew how important it was to keep my babies on an exclusive human milk diet. When it was recommended that a human milk fortifier be added to my breast milk because of their nutritional needs, I was well aware that the standard of care in most NICUs was a powdered cow milk-based fortifier. The twins were already experiencing feeding intolerance and I was not willing to take the risk of adding a non-human product to their diet. Fortunately I was aware of Prolacta Bioscience and the fact that they were the only company that provided a fortifier made exclusively from human milk.”
The NICU in which the twins were staying had not used Prolacta’s human milk-based human milk fortifier, H2MF™ in the past, yet they agreed to use it for the first time with Chance and Sienna. The twins thrived. Over the next few months, the twin’s condition improved, and they continued to grow and gain weight.
Nearly four months after making their early New Year’s entrance, Chance and Sienna had grown healthy and strong enough to ride home in their new minivan across the state to Hollywood, FL with mom and dad. Chance weighed seven pounds, nine and a half ounces, and Sienna weighed six pounds, ten and a half ounces.
“We will forever be grateful to the NICUs, doctors, nurses, and staff who fought along with us to save our babies. We will also always be grateful to the breast milk donors who made it possible for a human milk fortifier to be made using exclusively human breast milk.”
2015 Update on Chance and Sienna
On Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 2:46 p.m. my wife Kimberly Sciulli gave birth to my daughter Isabella Cecilia Sciulli. It was unexpected, as she was born three months early. Isabella was born weighing in at only one pound and four and a half ounces. That’s it. Her back was the size of my three fingers. My wedding ring could fit up her entire arm or leg. Her head was the size of a racket ball. We were informed Isabella was going to have to “fight for her life”.
Every day the doctors reminded us of everything that was going to go wrong and of all the obstacles and challenges our beautiful daughter would face. Kimberly and I were helpless with the situation but we did what we could. We would sit by her incubator and pray…and Kim would pump breast milk.
The doctor told Kimberly and me that breast milk would greatly increase Isabella’s chance for survival. At that point, Kimberly made it her goal to pump as much breast milk as possible. She created a schedule, and she would pump, and pump, and pump. She would wake up in the middle of the night to pump breast milk, it was Kim’s mission. It was what she could do to help Isabella survive. She pumped everyday and she made sure she got every drop; it was her “liquid gold”. None was wasted. Soon, our freezer at home was completely full and we began bringing small coolers full of breast milk to the hospital on what seemed like a daily basis. Kim stayed so dedicated and passionate and had collected so much, but still continued to pump.
One day our best friends from Charlotte visited. I remember Kimberly and her friend Michelle talking for two hours about how important breast milk was for Isabella. Two hours, just about the importance of breast milk. Michelle’s husband Chris and I could hear the passion in Kim’s voice.
Unfortunately, 40 days after Isabella was born, tragedy struck; one thing the doctors didn’t warn us about. Kimberly, my love, passed away on February 19, 2008. She passed away due to postpartum cardiomyopathy.
Days after the funeral, Chris and Michelle called to talk to me about companies that offered safe, pasteurized donated breast milk. They knew it was Kimberly’s priority for Isabella to continue on a human milk diet for her health and growth, and that Kimberly’s milk would go quickly. After working with them and doing my own research, I chose to use Prolacta’s pasteurized breast milk due to the testing and processing of their milk. With the help of our friends, we got the hospital to agree to bring in Prolacta’s human milk fortifier for Isabella.
Isabella is truly a miracle. She is two and a half years old and is completely healthy. She has her mother’s personality and is so loving and pleasant, always smiling. All of the concerns the doctors warned Kim and I of never happened. I attribute her health to a few things: God, Kimberly looking over us, the fabulous care from the doctors and nurses in the NICU, and last, but definitely not least, donated breast milk.
Isabella is nearly seven years old today! See the before and after picture.
On February 4, 2007, our son Tyler was born at 2 lbs. 1 ounce. The three days prior to that, Tyler’s mother Julie had to be admitted to the hospital for complications known as Preeclampsia.
A condition which is rapidly progressive characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. On the fourth day, Julie was retaining so much fluid that her lungs began accumulating fluid as well and the doctors decided to do an emergency C-section. Julie was only 27 weeks pregnant.
When Tyler was delivered, he wasn’t able to breathe on his own and he was the smallest human I’d had ever seen. Julie had to stay in bed 24 hours after the C-section and didn’t first see Tyler until the next day. While sitting in the NICU, next to Tyler’s little incubator, we were told he wouldn’t be able to feed right away. We were told it would be a couple of days until he got any breast milk at all, and he would only get a drop at first. The nurses and specialists explained how important that first drop is and that it would increase in volume over time.
Julie would be released 6 days after Tyler was born and she was put on a slew of medications as well as self injected shots. We feared this would interfere with breast feeding which we knew was so important for Tyler, and we were relieved when we were told that it wouldn’t. Julie was already prepared not to take the medication for the sake of being able to breastfeed Tyler.
Julie would pump breast milk on the scheduled times she was supposed to. The NICU gave us the containers, labels, different colored stickers, the works; all of this so her breast milk could be frozen and given at a later time. We knew how important Julie’s precious milk was to Tyler’s health and development so we continually carried the sacred cargo to the hospital. Tyler clearly benefited from the breast milk which also helped to strengthen his immune system.
Once continuously eating breast milk, the lactation specialist advised us that a human milk fortifier needed to be introduced. She informed us of Prolact+ H2MF®, the only 100% human milk derived fortifier so Tyler could remain on an all human milk diet, and she gave us information about it. We took the information home, fully researched it, and it made perfect sense to us to use it. “It’s made from donated human milk, the liquid gold we were being told was so important for our premature son’s well being”. We gave the NICU our consent to use the Prolact+ H2MF® and the nurses and specialists were ecstatic. They told us they were happy we chose it because they had seen so many positive results and were sure it would help Tyler. Tyler left the NICU 108 days later at 8.5 pounds.
Tyler is over 3 years old now and goes 100mph all day. It’s amazing when we look back at his pictures from the beginning and to witness his progression over this period of time. He truly is a blessing and a miracle, and without his human milk fortifier, love and care from everyone, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Sarah Elaine’s Story
My little girl, Sarah Elaine, was born at 30 weeks, weighing only 2.574 lbs. Because of her early delivery and medical conditions associated with her prematurity, she was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Sarah Elaine remained in the NICU for six weeks under the care of an amazing team of doctors, nurses, and other staff members. This amazing team of specialists and caregivers helped me to understand the risks we may face regarding the complications and long-term problems associated with my tiny angel’s premature birth. They also explained what we needed to do to get Sarah Elaine to the ultimate goal—achieve good health, proper weight gain and growth so that she could come home. I was informed that a sure way to get her to that ultimate goal was a diet that consisted only of human milk. Sarah Elaine had the opportunity to receive donated breast milk during her six-week stay in the hospital and I am glad she did.
The advantages of human milk are many and there is not a more beautiful, generous, or perfect gift that a breast milk donor mom could provide for a newborn infant in need. For children that are born premature, human milk gives them the fighting chance they need for healthy brain, bone and muscle development. Human milk also provides babies with natural immune boosters needed to protect them from a variety of illnesses, and intestinal or pulmonary complications.
Sarah Elaine was released from the hospital at six weeks. Every day when I look at her now I am thankful that we were given the opportunity to keep her on an exclusive human milk diet. No cow’s milk products were ever introduced. Her weight went from 2.574 pounds to 4.673 pounds. My tiny angel has developed into a beautiful, very healthy 14 month old child who is bright, happy, inquisitive, nosey, and quite energetic.