Buffalo, NY - Gideon is a happy active baby. You wouldn't think he was born with a heart condition and relies on a feeding tube.
"He had heart surgery when he was 18 days old and they actually didn't think he was going to make it through the surgery," Rebecca Deboard said.
But Gideon came through. Following the surgery he developed a condition that makes it hard for his body to process fat. To help him recover, Gideon's mom had to go through a process of separating the fat from her breast milk.
"It was a lot of stress on my body and essentially I would've had to set myself up to a pump 24/7 just to keep my supply up because it just wasn't working," DeBoard said.
That's when she turned to other moms like Cortnee.
"I had a huge supply and I was pumping 80 to 90 ounces a day," mother Cortnee Stampone said.
Courtney has an oversupply of breast milk.
"It quickly filled up my freezer and I had to donate it so that it wouldn't go to waste," Stampone said. "So I turned to facebook and social media in search of finding someone."
She turned to a page called Human Milk for Human Babies New York. It's a way thousands of mom's can connect and share human milk.
Niagara Falls mother April Chandler has donated to four families.
"A couple people picked my interest so I ended up private messaging them," Chandler said."I talked back in forth with them in messenger."
Through messenger information is exchanged like how much milk the mom is looking for, and a meeting place. Information about the donors health and diet is also exchanged.
"So interesting to see in my own state - how many people were looking for breast milk," Chandler said. "Especially when you read some of the stories," Rebecca Deboard said.
... Like Gideon's...
"At this point I would probably advise against it," Pediatrician Danielle Conley said. "Some of those viruses that are in mom will stay in the milk right away like cmv, we know hiv is one that can pass through," Conley said.
Pediatrician Dr. Danielle Conley explains there are risks involved with milk sharing over the internet.
The food and drug administration advises against it stating:
"The donor is unlikely to have been adequately screened for infectious disease or contamination risk. In addition, it is not likely that the human milk has been collected, processed, tested or stored in a way that reduces possible safety risks to the baby."
In general, breastfeeding is being encouraged as soon as babies are born in the hospital.
"About 70 percent of mom's are breastfeeding from day one," Conley said.
Pediatrician Danielle Conley says babies that are breast feed have lower rates of infections and SIDS.
"Long term rates, show lower rates of obesity, lower rates of hyper tension.. and really having a healthier body."
"It's really up to the mom's who are making the connection whether they feel comfortable or not, we let it be well known that mom's can ask for their recipients blood work."
Despite risks, Moms like Rebecca Feel milk sharing is the right - healthiest choice.
"I guess it was just mom's intuition that you just know when you found somebody that is trustworthy or is a good person and wouldn't give you milk they wouldn't feed their own child," Rebecca Deboard said.