'Overwhelming' support: Strangers donate breast milk after mom of newborn dies of COVID-19

·2 min read

Strangers have been donating breast milk after a mother of a newborn died of complications from COVID-19.

Megan Richards, a mother of six from Oak Grove, Missouri, had been providing breast milk for her youngest child, 5-month-old Myles, through her illness. She had planned to breastfeed until Myles' birthday next July. Since her death last month, her family has been fulfilling Megan's dying wish by collecting donations of breast milk for Myles.

"It was one of the things that she wanted the most for the baby, and it was important to her, so it was important to me," her husband, Michael Richards, told ABC News. "Even when she got sick and I was trying to keep her in bed, and just try to get her to rest, I talked to her about it maybe being time to stop pumping – she'd been pumping to be able to feed him with a bottle – and she refused."

The Richards family has received 400 ounces of donated breast milk, including a donated freezer to store it. The family would need about 10,000 ounces to reach Myles's first birthday.

Brittany Eppenauer, Megan Richards's sister, is spearheading the drive for breast milk and noted nearly 300 emails have flooded in from women who want to donate.

"The first donation that we received came from a woman named Megan," Eppenauer said. "It's overwhelming to know that other moms care that much, to make sure that we can fulfill my sister's wishes."

The entire family came down with COVID-19 in November, starting with the kids, according to FOX 4 in Missouri. Doctors told Michael Richards that Megan was having heart complications before she died at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs. A direct cause of death was unknown.

Richards wasn’t vaccinated before she contracted COVID-19. Michael Richards said the family is urging others to get vaccinated now.

“I regret that I didn’t push her to get it,” Richards told FOX 4.

Lisa Tracy, Richards' mother-in-law, started a fundraiser to help pay for expenses. The goal of $15,000 was nearly eclipsed by Monday morning.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Strangers donate breast milk after mother of newborn dies of COVID-19