Grieving mum's milk bonds two families for life

Jennifer Tiner with Detra Chappell and her son Dekevyon.
Jennifer Tiner with Detra Chappell and her son Dekevyon.  Photo: WFA8

When Detra Chappell gave birth three months before her due date, she knew her tiny baby would need all the help he could get to pull through.

Little did she realise a gift from another mother grieving the loss of her own baby would provide the nourishment her son needed to survive.

When baby Dekevyon was born at 28 weeks, weighing just 900 grams, in August last year, nurses told Chappell how vital breast milk would be for his health.

'She lives on, she's not forgotten': Isabella passed away at 13 months.
'She lives on, she's not forgotten': Isabella passed away at 13 months.  Photo: Supplied

"They stressed that to the fullest," Chappell, from Texas, told local television station WFA8. "Like, whatever you can get, put it in the little bottle and bring it."

But the new mum was unable to produce enough milk herself, and donated milk was fed to tiny Dekevyon.

The mother donating that milk was Jennifer Tiner, whose own baby had just passed away.

Tiner's daughter Isabella had suffered seizures since birth and was 13 months old when she died.

Following her little girl's death, the 124 litres of breastmilk Tiner had pumped and stored for her daughter was donated to Methodist Richardson Medical Center - the hospital where baby Dekevyon was being cared for. 

Every last drop of the milk went to the premature boy who is now a healthy, happy one-year-old.

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Chappell was so thankful for the "liquid gold" her son received that she asked Tiner to be Dekevyon's godmother.

The two women have now formed a close friendship that will now never be broken.

"I'm glad I finally got to meet you, because I was always wondering, 'Now, who is it coming from?'," Chappell told Tiner during the television interview.

Dekevyon was born weighing 900 grams at 28 weeks.
Dekevyon was born weighing 900 grams at 28 weeks.  Photo: Supplied

Tiner was honoured to be chosen as Dekevyon's godmother, and takes comfort in the fact that Isabella's milk helped save the life of another baby. 

"She lives on, she's not forgotten," Tiner said. "She saved him through her milk. It's liquid gold, is what it is."

The families have now shared lots of celebrations, including Dekevyon's christening and first birthday. 

Those moments bring much joy to Tiner, but they are also a reminder of things she is missing out on doing with Isabella.

"I have that sad feeling, because I loved her and I miss her, but I know God's plan was bigger than mine," Tiner said.