MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WPDE) - Breastfeeding is important for babies, especially when it comes to preemies. For mothers who can't breastfeed, Tidelands Health has a breast milk depot with milk donated by other moms.
Health officials say it's the only depot of its kind in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties.
Jillian Williams has been on an emotional roller coaster since her daughter, Charlotte, was born nine weeks early in April.
"Sometimes I'm OK and other times I'm not," she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
For 93 days, Charlotte's family held her close during all of her complications. Then, she got her wings.
"She wasn't attached to anything, so it was finally like she was free," said Williams, holding a picture of Charlotte.
Williams' angel was no longer physically here, but Charlotte's story would continue long after her death, as Williams made a difficult decision that would change the lives of other families around the state.
"I told the lactation consultant, I said, 'You know, I have all of this milk,' and she said, 'Well, would you think about donating it?' I didn't even know you could do that! I wasn't aware of it!"
She also wasn't aware of how big of a help she'd be to other mothers in need.
Beth Marion, director of Women and Children's Services at Tidelands Health, says Williams' donation and future donations to the depot are vital to sick babies.
"It only takes 8 ounces of breast milk a day to feed a baby that's in the NICU, and with Jillian's amount of breast milk that she provided, like she said, she was able to feed 15 to 16 babies."
The average mother donates between 300 and 600 ounces of breast milk, but Williams is not the average mother.
"Oh gosh, about 450 bags, it was about 3,000 ounces," said Williams.
She was able to let go of her last tangible connection to Charlotte, but she picked up much more.
"Helped me in my grieving process and helped other babies survive -- it's just good to know that Charlotte's legacy is still living on," Williams said.
Since Tidelands Health opened its milk depot in 2015, it has been able to supply babies in the NICUs of South Carolina with almost 8,000 ounces of breast milk.
If you'd like to donate your breast milk or know someone who'd be willing, all the information you need is right here.