Donor Spotlight: Atheana’s Story

April 29, 2024

For Atheana, food is so much more than fuel; it’s a bridge that connects people and communities – a source of nourishment, love, and connection. As a registered dietician, this belief was already ingrained in her, nurtured by her journey into motherhood.

The path that led Atheana to milk donation began with the birth of her first child. As a first-time mom, she navigated challenges with breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding was difficult for me at first, but eventually we found a rhythm,” says Atheana. “After that, I was grateful to have an excess milk supply, and I had a bit of an ethical dilemma about throwing it away.”

Staying true to her core beliefs, she viewed the excess milk as a precious commodity that she couldn’t let go to waste.

Atheana also had a personal connection with Mount Sinai – the hospital where her husband received care during an illness – and, the location of the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank.

Her gratitude for the hospital, intertwined with her desire to give back to her community, propelled her journey to become a Milk Bank donor.

“To me, donor milk is so much more than a gift,” says Atheana. “It can be emotional if you struggle with nursing. But if you have an oversupply, it could help families on the other end of the spectrum, such as those who are unable to provide breastmilk to their baby in the neonatal intensive care unit.”

With each donation, Atheana found solace in knowing that her oversupply of breastmilk was going to a good cause.

Pasteurized human donor milk can be a lifeline for critically ill preterm infants in the NICU, and a beacon of hope for their families during times of uncertainty.

“My second baby was born during the pandemic. Those were really uncertain and scary times, but one thing that was certain for me was pumping. And I thought, it must also be so hard for families who have babies in the neonatal intensive care unit during the pandemic.”

As she concludes her third donation, Atheana reflects on her experience thus far. Each experience, from the challenges of a pandemic to the newfound confidence that came with breastfeeding each of her children, shaped Atheana’s unique perspective as a Milk Bank donor.

Offering words of encouragement to prospective donors, Atheana shares: “If you’re are able donate, you have nothing to lose. The donation process is seamless, and it is a small way to make a huge impact.”

For her, the act of giving extends beyond the physical donation; it illustrates the power of food to heal and connect, and embodies the emotional connection forged through nourishment and care.

Thank you to Atheana and all of our incredible Milk Bank donors! These acts of kindness ripple outwards and touch the lives of the families receiving pasteurized human donor milk for their little ones, in NICUs across Ontario and Eastern Canada.

Learn more about how to become a Milk Bank donor.