A flight attendant from the Philippines is making headlines around the world after helping a mother who was flying with a hungry baby.
In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Patrisha Organo (a mother who describes herself as a breastfeeding activist) explains what she did when a passenger ran out of formula for their hungry baby:
“I breastfed a stranger’s baby inflight,” she writes.
According to Organo’s Facebook post, she went into work at the airline that day knowing it was going to be a special day. She writes how she was “scheduled for a check flight to be qualified as a Cabin Crew Evaluator. I thought that this flight’s gonna be so special as this is a big step on my flying career.”
Organo’s big flight was going smoothly, she recalls, until she heard a baby crying. “I approached the mother and asked if everything’s okay, I tried to tell her to feed her hungry child. Teary-eyed, she told me that she ran out of formula milk. Passengers started looking and staring at the tiny, fragile crying infant,” she recalls.
“I felt a pinch in my heart. There’s no formula milk onboard. I thought to myself, there’s only one thing I could offer and that’s my own milk. And so I offered.”
In a phone interview with the Filipino website Smart Parenting, Organo explained the baby’s mother had been at the airport since 9 p.m. Monday, while the flight did not depart until 5:10 a.m. Tuesday. Clearly, her travel plans had gone awry, and her formula supply didn’t last as long as she needed it to.
Knowing this, and knowing how hungry the baby was, Organo’s supervisor, Sheryl Villaflor (the flight’s line administrator) assisted her in taking the mom and baby to the galley. At first, Organo planned to pump for the baby, but when the baby started crying even more, Sheryl suggested Organo skip the pump and just nurse, Smart Parenting reports.
With the mother’s permission, Organo put the baby to her breast. “The baby started rooting, she was so hungry,” Organo writes. “I saw the relief on her mother’s eyes. I continued to feed the baby until she fell asleep . I escorted her back to her seat and just before I left, the mother sincerely thanked me.”
Organo shared a photo of the moment (with the baby’s face obscured to protect the family’s privacy) and her story has been blowing up, appearing on news outlets around the world.
While some people are weirded out by the idea of a stranger breastfeeding another’s baby, the Centers for Disease Control notes that “few illnesses are transmitted via breast milk”.
That being said, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that any time a baby is to be given breastmilk from someone other than the mother that the donor be screened first.
But in cases like the one Organo experienced, that’s not possible. Someone needed to feed that baby immediately, and the flight attendant knew that she could. She knew that she wouldn’t want her own baby daughter, 9-month-old Jade, to go hungry.
This is a story of one mother helping another, and it is beautiful. The truth is it takes a village—but that village can take many different forms. By looking around and being there for others when they need you, you are also opening yourself up to love in return.