Sunday 11 December 2016

Bereaved father's thanks for milk of human kindness

Chrissie Russell

Published 06/08/2016 | 02:30

Soren Buchtrup and his family during happier times. Wife Yvonne, from Limerick, and their daughter Ella (left) died in a car crash. Baby Noah survived.
Soren Buchtrup and his family during happier times. Wife Yvonne, from Limerick, and their daughter Ella (left) died in a car crash. Baby Noah survived.

A grieving father has paid tribute to a group of Irish women who helped breastfeed his son after his wife and daughter had been killed in a tragic car accident.

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Limerick woman Yvonne Buchtrup (30), husband Soren and their two children Ella (2) and Noah (six months) were returning to their home in Norway after attending a friend's wedding in Slovakia last year when a van ploughed into their rental car.

Yvonne and Ella, who would have celebrated her fourth birthday on Thursday, were killed instantly.

A 71-year-old man - who had fallen asleep at the wheel when his vehicle collided with the family's car as it sat parked near the town of Nowy Targ - was convicted and banned from driving for 10 years.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Danish helicopter pilot Soren described his loved ones as "my purpose in life".

"They were my girls, my family, my love and foundation," he said.

Referring to the convicted driver, he said: "If he does something else within the next five years, he will go to jail but he is not in jail now.

"This is okay with me. Him being in prison will not bring Yvonne and Ella back and it would not make me feel any better if he was jailed.

"He is an old man and I'm sure he already suffers from what he has done."

It is the first time Soren has spoken to the media since the tragic accident in May 2015. Both he and Yvonne's parents wanted to use this week - World Breastfeeding Week - to extend their gratitude to a group of Irish women who helped provide a ray of hope in the months after Yvonne's and Ella's deaths.

Baby Noah had been exclusively breastfed and his mother was a dedicated member of an Irish breastfeeding support group on Facebook.

After Yvonne died, the Facebook group rallied to deliver upon her wish that Noah would be breastfed until his first birthday.

For six months, the women from across Ireland sent over 70 litres of donated milk to the Buchtrups' home in Norway. On one occasion, there was even a drop-off of frozen breastmilk made in Wales by a group of husbands on their way to a rugby match while Soren was visiting his sister there.

"I was quite amazed about the efficiency and teamwork that happened once everyone worked towards the same goal," Soren said.

"It was genuine human kindness and I'll be forever grateful to the wonderful women in Ireland who I call 'Noah's breastmilk mammies'."

Yvonne, daughter of well-known horse breeder John Long, was a passionate advocate of breastfeeding and had been planning to become a milk donor herself to the milk bank near the couple's home in Norway.

"My wife would always have done a lot of research before having a strong opinion on something, so she presented the idea of donated milk herself," Soren revealed.

"It was the main reason I accepted help from the group when they approached me after the accident. I knew Yvonne was a member and had wanted to breastfeed until at least one year."

Noah is now a thriving toddler, something Soren believes is thanks in part to his year of breastmilk.

"It wasn't until the week after I stopped giving Noah the breastmilk that he had his first runny nose. Noah will turn two in October and until now he has only had a runny nose twice and a fever once. I believe his immune system has been boosted with defence matter from all those beautiful souls who spent many hours pumping."

Irish Independent

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