Strangers Donate Breast Milk After Mom of 6 — with a Newborn Baby — Dies of COVID
When Megan Richards died of COVID-19 in November, she left behind a heartbroken husband and their six kids. One of those six included their 5-month-old son Myles, whom she planned to breastfeed through his first birthday.
"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 Good Morning America. "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."
Michael shared their story with their local Fox 4 station in Missouri, and after hearing about Megan's death and plans to breastfeed Myles, strangers from all over have donated breast milk to help the family.
"The first donation that we received came from a woman named Megan," said Megan's sister, Brittany Eppenauer. "It's overwhelming to know that other moms care that much, to make sure that we can fulfill my sister's wishes."
In the weeks since her death on Nov. 15, the family has received nearly 300 emails from women looking to donate and around 400 oz. of breast milk, plus a donated freezer to store it all.
Megan "was a perfect mother," Michael said. "Everything she did was for the kids."
The blended family had all caught COVID-19 around Nov. 9, with the kids getting sick first and then passing it on to Megan and Michael. Most of the kids and Michael all recovered quickly, but Megan, who was unvaccinated, and baby Myles had a tougher time.
"She was still breastfeeding. So [I was] trying to get her to stay in bed. And rest was difficult because she just wanted to do everything," Michael told Fox 4. "But I think it was three or four days from her positive test, she started to get really sick."
First, Myles' condition worsened and they took him to the hospital, where he was treated for dehydration and recovered well enough to come home. But the next day, Nov. 14, Megan's health declined. She told Michael she needed to go to the hospital, but he found her passed out on the living room floor as he called 911.
"It was scary. I couldn't get her to wake up and she wouldn't answer me, and I didn't know what to do," he said.
They expected her to improve at the hospital, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and dehydration, but the next day doctors called Michael and said that she was declining. When he got to the hospital, they were performing CPR on Megan as her heart struggled to keep up, and she died later that day at age 32.
Michael and his family are encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I regret that I didn't push her to get it," he said.
Along with looking for breast milk donations, the family is raising money for Michael and the kids on GoFundMe. He said that he wishes he could tell Megan "that I loved her more than anything."
"They had the best mother ever," he said. "She did everything for them, and she lived with no regrets and she put them before anyone else."
This story originally appeared on people.com