Mom relies on breast milk donations to feed ailing baby
Camara Cassin relied on a network of women she found online to help feed her daughter Anaya Cassin-Potts, who is very sick with a terminal condition and cannot tolerate anything but breast milk.
The 15-month-old suffers from infantile Krabbe leukodystrophy -- usually a fatal degenerative disorder that attacks the nervous system.
But her life has improved thanks to the milk donations Camara has received from the women she met on the Internet.
"We try to give her a good life. We don't know how long she has," said the B.C. mother, adding Anaya has lost her eyesight and ability to hold up her head. "She's comfortable now. She wasn't comfortable before."
Camara said she could not produce enough milk to feed her child. And because there is only one breast milk bank in Canada, Camara turned to the Internet for help.
Camara said the support from other women has been invaluable and she now has enough milk in the freezer to last for several months.
In fact, she is now giving some of the milk to another mother who is battling breast cancer.
There is currently only one human milk bank in Canada in Vancouver, but a grassroots organization online called Eats on Feets now helps women donate.
However, sharing breast milk has its risks, said Health Canada, which issued a warning about donated milk from the Internet because no one can guarantee its safety.
But Camara said the benefits outweigh the risks in her case and she is confident the milk she received is safe.
The Canadian Pediatric Society wants to see a milk bank in every province, but the milk must be pasteurized and mothers would be screened, like donors at a blood bank.