Kynnedi Doyel has been in the hospital for two months.
She'll remain in the hospital, hopefully only until May 25, the day she was expected to be born.
While pregnant with Kynnedi, her mother, Kylie Doyel, of Vienna, developed preeclampsia, a blood pressure condition that caused doctors at the Women and Children's Hospital in Columbia to deliver Kynnedi by Cesarean section after six months.
Kynnedi weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces when doctors delivered her. She was 11 inches long.
A child that small is not entirely developed, so it's important to feed her essential nutrients. Human milk would be best, but her 20-year-old mother wasn't producing any yet.
Fortunately, the hospital has access to donated human milk from other mothers.
Doyel told her story to about 40 people gathered in the Cole County Health Department's Cosmopolitan Club Kitchen, 3400 W. Truman Blvd. in Jefferson City, early Thursday morning as part of the grand opening of the Central Missouri Mother's Milk Depot.
The depot is intended to provide central Missouri mothers a convenient location for donating their extra expressed breast milk, which can be lifesaving for fragile, sick or premature babies.
Premature or sick babies often are the children whose mothers are incapable of supplying the milk they need. Pasteurized human milk is far superior to formula for them.
According to the Cole County Health Department, babies receiving donor milk are less likely to suffer fatal conditions, have much lower rates of infection, spend less time in the hospital, and are more likely to grow and thrive.
The milk depot in Cole County is the third affiliated with the Heart of American Mothers' Milk Bank at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, said Melinda Ridenhour, Cole County director of nutrition services. Ridenhour is also the local milk depot coordinator.
Women who are expressing more milk than they need may contact St. Luke's directly at 816-932-4888. Local health care workers also provide the milk bank's contact information to mothers.
Once mothers are referred to the milk bank, they will receive a 15-minute screening call.
After a mother passes the screening, the milk bank sends them a questionnaire, which has to be signed by the mother's doctor and the baby's.
"Obviously, the mother and baby need to be healthy and the mother needs to be providing for her baby first," Ridenhour said. "They also are required to have lab work done, and that's done here at the Health Department."
Staff will ship the lab work to St. Luke's Hospital to be processed.
Once mothers are approved, the donors are put in contact with the Central Missouri Mother's Milk Depot, to set up a time and day that works well for bringing in the donation.
"The whole purpose of this is to make it convenient for that donating mother," Ridenhour said. "We have a door right over here, where they can pull up — and if they have their baby with them, we'll come out and get the milk. They don't even have to get out of their vehicle."
The milk is stored frozen and shipped to Kansas City, where it will be pasteurized (heated to eliminate pathogens) and homogenized (mixed with other milks to make it uniform).
The first-ever donors to the new milk depot were Jenna Laubert, a dietitian at the Health Department, who brought in 600 ounces of milk. The other donor Thursday morning was Jennifer Prenger, another Cole County employee.
"We provide breast pumps to our employees in the county, so when they get back to work, they have a high-quality electric pump to be able to express milk every day and keep their supply up and be able to provide for their babies," Ridenhour said. "Jennifer realized she had extra milk there and didn't know what to do. She contacted St. Luke's directly."
Prenger has already donated to the milk depot in Columbia.
She donated about 1,400 ounces in Jefferson City on Thursday.
Between the two women, they donated 2,000 ounces (15.6 gallons) of human milk.
"One ounce of donor milk will feed three premature infants — that's about 6,000 babies," Ridenhour said.
Kynnedi was so small when she was born she could only receive about an ounce of milk for each feeding. Because she remains on ventilators, feedings are done through tubes into her stomach.
Kylie Doyel has begun producing milk but can only express about an ounce each time she uses a pump.
But Kynnedi has grown — she's now 3 pounds, 3 ounces. So, she continues to rely on donor milk.