After The Unexpected Loss of Her Newborn, Mom Donates 17 Gallons of Breast Milk

Her efforts have helped three families so far.

Ariel Matthews' son Ronan was born October 3, 2016 with a heart defect that required the newborn to undergo surgery. Tragically, he passed away a few days later, leaving behind a grief-struck family. Refusing to let her son's death be for nothing, the 25-year-old mother decided to donate her breast milk to babies in need.

She started by setting a goal to pump 1,000 ounces for donation, but by October 24, she had already surpassed it. "I just decided to keep going with it once I hit," she told PEOPLE in an interview. Her new goal was even more impressive, and she decided to try and donate her body weight in breast milk.

At the end of November, Matthews posted on her Instagram that she surpassed that mark as well, pumping 2,370 ounces in total. To put that into perspective, that's 148 pounds––more than her whole body weight.

"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. "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.'"

So far, the milk has helped three families: two new mothers who weren't able to produce milk on their own and another who adopted a baby from foster care.

Shockingly, this isn't the first time Matthews has performed this act of kindness. A year ago, she had a stillborn birth and managed to donate 510 ounces of breast milk. She also has a 3-year-old son, Noah.

One thing is for certain, Matthews has given many families an unforgettable gift in their time of need, helping turn tragedy into an incredible act of kindness.

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