Ariel Matthews’s son Ronan only lived for 11 days, but because of his life, Matthews was able to help three other families: The 25-year-old California woman donated a staggering 2,370 ounces, or 18.5 gallons, of breast milk. The milk went to two women whose milk didn’t come in and another who’d adopted a foster baby.
Ronan was born on October 3 with a heart defect and underwent surgery to repair it, but died days later. During his life, Matthews pumped 398 ounces, and she continued to pump after his death, setting a goal of 1,000 ounces, which she achieved on October 24. She told People, “I just decided to keep going with it once I hit it.”
Her new goal: donating her body weight in breast milk. On November 28, she posted on Instagram that she’d surpassed that mark, pumping 2,370 ounces in total, or 148 pounds — more than her weight. This is not the first time Matthews has done this. After she had a stillborn birth a year ago, she managed to donate 510 ounces. She has a 3-year-old son, Noah.
Matthews is grateful for the support from the moms who received her milk, and from total strangers who’ve commented on her posts. “It felt really good to donate it all, especially because I would get hugs from the moms when they came to pick it up and thank yous,” she told People, adding that good things can come from a loss. “I like to know that there’s actually people being encouraged by this. I’ve even gotten messages on Facebook saying ‘this has really helped me, that I hope I can be like this.’”