Few would argue Jenny Kan doesn’t deserve a statue in a park somewhere for sharing her “liquid gold” on such a monumental scale.
Since giving birth to her 19-month old daughter Olivia, the North Delta mommy has donated roughly 25 four-litre jugs of her breast milk to other babies in need. That’s almost enough to fill a large barrel.
“My daughter, she couldn’t latch and I wanted to give her the breast milk,” Kan, 37, explained. She started pumping, built up her supply, and helped a friend out with the surplus.
That’s where it started. Since then, she’s provided breast milk for babies as far away as Regina.
“I have that soft spot, you know, for babies, not that I didn’t have before but it’s just sensitive nowadays. I feel obligated to, right, to help.”
Kan is a legal assistant with the federal government and is on extended maternity leave. She donated her first quantity of milk to BC Women’s Hospital, when she lived in Mount Pleasant, in Vancouver.
In February she donated 34.392 litres to the North Delta Public Health Unit, the greatest single donation of breast milk the unit has ever seen.
Dr. Ingrid Tyler, medical health officer with Fraser Health, said there’s always a need for donors.
“Contributions like Jenny’s help a lot of babies,” Tyler noted. “Most of the pasteurized milk is used to feed premature and sick babies who are at risk for illness and infection. Pasteurized donor human milk is also a great option for babies when the mother’s milk is not available. The more milk received at Fraser Health donor human milk collection depots, the greater the opportunity for moms and babies across Fraser Health to benefit. We can’t thank moms like Jenny enough for all their time and support.”
Kan has also donated her breast milk through an online Facebook group called “Human Milk 4 Human Babies — British Columbia.”
“I had made various donations through there at times when I didn’t have a car to drop off my milk at Women’s Hospital,” Kan told the Now-Leader. “There was a grandmother who I had met through that donation website. She told me one of her grand twin babies had a second-degree burn on his stomach and leg — she even sent me a picture which I couldn’t even bare to look at especially now that I am a mom. Her daughter in-law couldn’t produce enough breast milk and fast enough for the twins.”
Through that group she also donated her milk to an autistic boy in Regina. “A same-sex couple also contacted me stating they were in need of breast milk for their baby twin daughters.
“It was through my donations at the Women’s hospital and this Facebook website that made be realize how important breast milk is — I now call it ‘the liquid gold’ — and how many babies are in desperate need of it and yet some can’t get any due to various reasons,” she said. “Therefore, that motivated me in making my ongoing donations even further.
“I may not be the most educated nor most successful but I am glad I was able to contribute something to the society the only way I know how,” Kan said. “To me the value of giving outweighs far more than receiving. This is an important belief I wish to instill in my daughter when she grows up.”
Meantime, some of the beneficiaries of Kan’s largesse have kept in touch with her.
“The grandmother later updated me saying her grandson was healing so fast especially with the help of my breast milk,” Kan said. “The mom with the autistic kid said my breast milk helped him sleep better due to better digestion.”