In the six months since Overlake Hospital opened its Milk Donation Center, Eastside mothers have given more than 95 gallons of life-saving, nutritious donated human milk to the hospital.
The donations assure that Overlake Medical Center has priority access to the milk to support fragile, premature infants in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“We have been amazed at the generosity demonstrated by the caring donor moms of our community,” said Sandy Salmon, RN, who manages Overlake Medical Center’s Mom & Baby Care Center.
Salmon’s message to all the mothers who donated: “We recognize the time and energy taken to collect and donate this milk for babies in need. Your actions are inspirational and deeply appreciated both by the babies and families who receive your gift and by the staff at Overlake who are lucky enough to assist you in this process.”
Overlake is one of just a few hospitals in Western Washington to offer a local donation location to mothers in the greater Seattle area. After taking care of Overlake’s needs, any additional breast milk collected will help support 120 hospitals in 24 different states.
The milk is shared with other hospitals through Overlake’s partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank in Colorado, which provides the screening and blood testing needed to become a donating mom at no cost.
“We are always in need of donors and milk,” said Laraine Lockhart Borman, outreach director at Mothers’ Milk Bank in Colorado. “We frequently have more need for milk from hospitals than there is supply.”
Borman and Salmon are hoping Eastside moms continue to give the gift of human milk. The 95 gallons – roughly 12,248 ounces – were donated by 36 moms.
“One special donor gave 3,698 ounces so far,” Borman said. “Some gave the minimum of 150 ounces. To us it doesn’t matter because every drop is precious. An ounce will feed a micro preemie for a day. A little goes a long way toward protecting their health and ensuring their survival.”
Mothers who have been screened and accepted as prospective donors can come to Overlake’s Mom & Baby Care Center to drop off their frozen donated human milk and have blood work done at the medical center’s outpatient lab. The milk is temporarily stored in a deep freezer before being shipped for processing along with the blood samples.
The mailed blood samples are tested to assure donors meet the proper criteria (much like testing for blood donation). Milk that is safe for use is then pasteurized and cultured to assure there is no contamination from the processing. The milk is then frozen in 2 to 4 ounce bottles for shipment to hospital neonatal intensive care units.
A milk donation center is a controlled collection point where healthy, lactating women can donate their surplus milk for premature babies. The milk collection, shipping, processing and distribution are overseen by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), an organization consisting of multiple banks and collection depots throughout the United States and Canada.
Studies showing strong clinical benefits combined with recommendations from many health organizations have prompted a growing number of hospitals to provide donated, pasteurized human milk to premature infants when their mother’s own milk is not available.
Donated human milk provides life-saving nutrition and immune support to fragile, premature babies. In the United States, there is a critical shortage of donated human milk. According to the HMBANA, there are 60,000 low birth weight infants (weighing 3.5 pounds or less) born every year who need donated human milk.
Milk banks depend on “drop off” milk depots to meet the growing demand for donated human milk. Only milk from a HMBANA milk bank can safely be given to preterm infants in the hospital.
For more information about Overlake Medical Center’s new mother’s milk depot and to learn about how to donate, call 425-635-6150.