Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas Unveils Carmen’s Tree, a Memorial Wall Honoring the Tiniest Lives Who Helped Others

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Ft. Worth-based Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, a nonprofit organization that dispenses pasteurized donor human milk to neonatal intensive care units, honors families whose babies passed away and their mothers' who donated breastmilk so that other babies may live.

“A few days after Carmen was gone, I went home and stared at a freezer full of frozen breastmilk...In a moment of despair, it was helpful to make a decision that counted for something." - Angela, mom who donated breastmilk in honor of her daughter

A community of thirty families, health care professionals and other supporters of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas will gather on Sat., May 4 at 10 a.m. at the Milk Bank’s offices to unveil a unique memorial to the smallest lives that helped this nonprofit organization.

Known as Carmen’s Tree, this memorial is named for the baby of the Milk Bank’s first milk donor, Angela Mendoza, who chose to donate her breast milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas after the death of her own infant girl, Carmen, in July 2004. Mendoza set an example that many grieving women have followed. Since then, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas counts 155 women who chose to donate their breastmilk after the loss of their own babies. More than 30 families from the greater Fort Worth area, Dallas, North Texas including Wichita Falls, and from as far away as Mississippi will participate in the dedication ceremony and balloon release.

Carmen’s Tree is located on the entrance wall inside the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas at 600 W. Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth. Each leaf on the tree will be dedicated to a donor’s baby, including his or her first name and birthdate. The Rev. Pam Foster, a chaplain at Cook Children’s Hospital, will read each baby’s name.

“Giving breastmilk is always a generous act, and every donor earns our deepest gratitude,” says Amy Vickers, RN, BSN, IBCLC, executive director and clinical coordinator at the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. “For mothers who choose to pump and donate their milk in their time of grief, we are awed and inspired. They hold a special place in our hearts. With Carmen’s Tree, we can honor families and the tiniest lives who have touched others’ lives.”

Angela Mendoza was working in the labor and delivery department at Harris Methodist Hospital when she gave birth to her daughter, Carmen, born prematurely at 27 weeks gestation. Mendoza made a commitment to pumping breastmilk for her daughter with support of nurses and her neonatologist, Dr. Susan Sward-Comunelli. When Carmen passed away three weeks after her birth, Mendoza remembered that Dr. Sward was working to start a new milk bank in Ft. Worth.

“A few days after Carmen was gone, I went home and stared at a freezer full of frozen breastmilk,” Mendoza says. “I remembered Dr. Sward talking about a milk bank, and I made the call to learn how I could donate it.”

“In a moment of despair, it was helpful to make a decision that counted for something,” she says. “It helped with my grief, knowing that I did something that continues on.”

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas provides donor human milk by prescription to hospitals in 10 states. Women who are currently breastfeeding infants under one year old are eligible to be screened at no charge to become human milk (aka breastmilk) donors.

About the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas
The Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 to provide premature and critically ill infants with donor human milk when their own mother's milk is not available. To donate breastmilk, please email moms(at)texasmilkbank(dot)org or call 817.810.0071 or toll-free 1.866.810.0071. Learn more about milk banking at http://www.texasmilkbank.org.

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Note to editors: Doors open 10 a.m. Photo opps begin at 10:30 a.m. with reading of babies’ names, followed by dedication and unveiling.

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Anne Tiedt
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