Kati Kim proves that breastfeeding can save lives

December 7th, 2006 by | Permalink

Kati Kim, wife of the deceased James Kim, who died of hypothermia after venturing out of a  desolate road covered in snow and ice, saved her children via breastfeeding. Her daughters, ages 7 months and 4 years, survived because their mother nursed them.

Unbeknownst to the Kims, a wrong turn would prove to be a fatal one for the father who put his life on the line to save his family.

From sfgate.com:

James Kim set out for help Saturday morning after the family had already spent a week stranded 15 miles down a logging road off Bear Camp Road. Kim left because he and his wife, Kati, had been studying a map that they thought indicated Galice was only four miles away, Hastings said.

“In reality, it was 15 miles away,” he said. “He thought if he could get to the road (with other vehicles on it), he could figure out help.”

His is survived by his wife and two young daughters, and was only able to survive as long as they did becaue their mother kept them hydrated with the highly nutritious food source from her own body.

Even though I am a huge advocate in infant feeding choice, I do think this is a tangible instance where breastfeeding advocates have the right to be proud. When you think of Hurricane Katrina and how many babies suffered as a direct result of inaccessible baby formula, it reminds us of what a powerful tool lactation can be.

From abcnews.com:

Remarkably, Kim’s daughters, 4-year-old Penelope and 7-month-old Sabine, were reported to be in good condition after the ordeal.

The key to this fortunate ending may have been the fact that Kim breast-fed both of them to keep them alive amid the harsh conditions once no other food was available.

Experts say the episode suggests how mother’s milk, in a disastrous pinch, can make the difference in whether a child survives.

“The fact that Kati Kim was able to breast-feed both of her children for the amount of time that they were stranded most likely was lifesaving for them,” says Dr. Sheela Geraghty, assistant professor of pediatrics and medical director at the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.

“Breast milk not only provides the calories needed to sustain life, it also helps prevents dehydration,” Geraghty says.

A picture of Kati Kim and infant daughter Sabine after rescue (AP

Lest a formula feeding mom feel guilty, I think that although breastfeeding can be a powerful tool of survival in a disasterous situation, a formula feeding mom can be prepared. If you are going on a road trip, it would be wise to bring bottled water and cans, or better yet, a case of formula with you — ready made formula is even better.

Also, a woman can induce lactation, especially if she has recently breastfed in the past or in the last several months, but being prepared is a much safer bet that inducing lactation undire dire circumstanes. Lactation induction can take a day, even weeks to establish, but can be done in women who have never even breastfed before, proving yet again, how miraculous the human body is.

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