Small, sick babies in Fraser Health Neonatal Intensive Care Units [NICUs] are benefitting from generous donations of human milk from across the region, but the need is increasing, and the supply is not.
In Abbotsford, donations have fallen dramatically, from 304,629 millilitres (10,201 ounces) last year to only 43,577 millilitres (1,453 ounces) this year.
Much like donating blood, donating human milk can be life-saving for premature babies who are prone to infections and illness.
Women who are currently breastfeeding can visit bcwomensmilkbank.ca and do a quick screening to see if they are eligible to donate any extra breast milk they may have. Once they have been fully screened by the Provincial Milk Bank they get blood work at their local lab. Their doctor is contacted to confirm that both the donating mother and baby are healthy and thriving.
Mothers pump their milk and store it in the freezer in milk storage bags. A minimum donation of 150 ounces is usually required. Now, every health unit in Fraser Health is now also a milk collection depot and mothers can drop off their screened donor milk to the health unit in their own community.
Fraser Health will ship the frozen breast milk from the depots to the Provincial Milk Bank in Vancouver where it will be processed and pasteurized. The pasteurized milk is sent back to the NICUs at Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial Hospitals to nourish and protect the tiniest and most fragile patients.
For more information visit www.bcwomensmilkbank.ca.