‘Her purpose was to help others:’ Mom donates breast milk after losing newborn daughter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Most health experts agree, when it comes to feeding babies, breast milk is best. That's why many hospitals have their own banks for donations of breast milk, providing milk for thousands of babies across the United States. Roughly 5 percent of those donations come from mothers who lost their newborns, including one who found a way to keep her newborn's legacy alive.

Stephanie Surrey's fourth child, Marion Ohana Surrey was born with a full head of hair, but severe complications.

"They told us...we didn't know how long she would be with us. Whether minutes, or days, I was unsure," said Surrey.

Marion died three days after she was born. Initially, her family considered donating her organs.

"I have always felt like Marion -- that her purpose here was to help others," said Surrey.

She was too tiny for organ donation. Instead, ounce by ounce, her family found another way.

"Every ounce that we could collect was going to help someone else," said Surrey.

And it did. She donated thousands of ounces -- hundreds of gallons -- of breast milk.

"When I turned the pump in this summer, because I had dried up, I cried. I just cried and cried. It was like giving her up all over again," said Surrey.

The milk she pumped because of baby Marion helped hundreds of other babies.

"We recognize that this is really life-saving and life-giving," said Barbara Carr, milk bank director at St. Luke's Hospital of Kansas City.

WDAF was there when Carr met the Surreys for the first time.

"It's bittersweet, because we do know that it's going to help another baby, but we know it's a terribly sad time for a woman to be in that position," said Carr.

The Surreys remember their daughter and sister Marion with leis.

"Her middle name is Ohana, so her name is Marion Ohana Surrey, and Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten," said Surrey.