Jana Sharpe-Sanders has known about the milk bank since she was a young girl. Her father, one of the milk bank’s founders, was a beloved visionary and outstanding neonatologist in Austin. His early death, and that of his wife Diana, was a huge loss to the milk bank and the medical community. Read Jana’s tribute to her father, the milk bank, and to paying it forward!
The Mothers' Milk Bank of Austin has been a part of my family since day one of its existence. My father, Dr. George Sharpe, Neonatologist and Director of the NICU, was the co-founder of the MMBA with Dr. Sonny Rivera back in 1998.
Dr. George Sharpe
He knew when it first started that it was going to be one of his crowning achievements in life. He believed in breastfeeding so much that when I had my first daughter, Kira, in 2004 and was having problems getting her to latch on, he sent over Lactation Specialist Barbara Wilson-Clay to my apartment as a welcome home gift! Well, she worked miracles and latching was finally a success!
I breastfeed my daughter for 18 wonderful months, but unfortunately was unable to donate to the MMBA due to a lack of excess milk. When my daughter was only 4 months old, my own mother passed away after a long battle with cancer and a short time after that, my milk dried out on one side of my body despite my desperate attempts to keep it going. I only had one side to feed my child from and there was no way that I was going to be able to donate to the MMBA. It was definitely my goal to be able to donate and I definitely felt it was my duty to donate, too. Being the daughter of Dr. George Sharpe, definitely had it's pressures in the breastfeeding world, but he always told me not to worry and if it didn't happen with this child, things could be different future pregnancies. Well, my dad passed away from cancer just 18 months after my mom and he never got to meet my second born daughter, Keelin. It was through my second pregnancy that I became even more determined to be a breastfeeding queen and donor mom on my own. My wish came true and my dad was correct, I had no issues breastfeeding and I had extra milk to spare for the MMBA! I was officially a donor mom! Yeah!!! I knew my dad would have been proud of my efforts regardless of being able to donate, but it definitely felt great to drop off that big pot of “Liquid Gold”, as my dad used to call it, to the MMBA for the first time! Now that my youngest has just entered Kindergarten, I know it is time for me to donate more of my time, money and efforts to helping my father's passion for the milk bank thrive onwards!
Jana and her husband, Brett Sanders