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Giving is good for the soul. In fact, there is scientific evidence that altruistic people receive pleasure from being generous.

This is certainly the case with Sarah Dugger, PhD, a wife, mother of two and clinical genomic scientist. Her life’s work is dedicated to giving help and hope to people with medical conditions to improve their outcomes and the health of their biological children.

A Career That Gives Hope

As a scientist, Sarah works for a genetic testing laboratory where she interprets the genetic testing of many different diseases, mainly affecting the heart and brain.

Sarah says, “My job is to figure out which variants cause disease and which are harmless. I am a detective of sorts who pieces together the puzzle of a genetic mutation to determine if it is likely causing disease for a patient. Previous to this role, I worked as a genetic counselor in a maternal fetal medicine practice, helping patients understand their chances of having a baby with a genetic condition or congenital abnormality.”

Finding ways to make a difference in the lives of others through generosity is clearly her life mantra. Yet, not only does Sarah have a career dedicated to helping others, she also gives of herself.

A Body That Provides Nourishment

Sarah gave birth to her first child in 2019. After her daughter was born, her baby had a difficult time latching, but she still continued to provide breast milk for her daughter.

Sarah says, “I began exclusively pumping and produced a lot of milk. At my peak, I was producing up to 80 ounces a day — literally triple what my daughter needed. It was a problem for me since I felt engorged much of the time, but I also felt guilty having such an oversupply with no idea how I could provide for another child who might need milk.”

In 2020, Sarah moved with her husband and daughter to North Carolina. Once she relocated, she discovered the WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank, and she eagerly signed up to be a donor, providing a huge donation of about 200 ounces immediately after she was approved.

In June 2022 at WakeMed Cary Hospital, she gave birth to her second child, a little boy they named Callen.

Sarah says, “When Callen came along, the over production issue came back, so I signed up to be a milk bank donor again. My son can nurse, so now I do a hybrid of pumping and nursing.”

Why Give Mothers’ Milk?

Breast milk is important for babies because it has the perfect balance of infant nutrition and produces antibodies that can help prevent infections. This is so important for vulnerable, premature babies.

In light of the satisfaction Sarah has received from giving and her understanding of the importance of breast milk, she has also worked to raise awareness of the WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank and the importance of donating.

Sarah says, “I find that collecting the milk, washing all the pumping parts and filling the bags for donation can be quite a bit of work, but it is absolutely worth it to know that all the extra milk is useful for these babies. I learned that one ounce can provide up to four feeds for a premature baby, so what I give goes far.”

In Sarah’s most recent donation, she gave 408 ounces. Imagine the far-reaching, life-saving impact.

About the WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank

Each year, more than 10,000 babies are born prematurely in North Carolina. These fragile newborns need the best possible nutrition to grow and develop into healthy infants. Breast milk has life-saving antibodies that protect preemies, as well as full-term infants, against disease, illness and intestinal infections.

Mother’s milk is best. However, ill, premature babies sometimes cannot breastfeed, and frequently their mothers are unable to pump enough milk for them. For a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), milk donations can be essential to life.

This is where you come in. WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank is a non-profit milk bank that provides safe, pasteurized donor milk to babies in hospital NICUs in North Carolina and all along the east coast — breast milk donated by parents.

Non-profit milk banks like WakeMed’s rely on the generosity of parents who take the time and effort it requires to donate their milk, helping infants during their most vulnerable phase of life.

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WakeMed Health & Hospitals