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CHI Health St. Elizabeth Celebrates Second Anniversary of Mother’s Milk Depot

August 04 2015

CHI Health St. Elizabeth Celebrates Second Anniversary of Mother’s Milk Depot

Two years ago, CHI Health St. Elizabeth opened the first milk depot in Lincoln - collecting breast milk from mothers who wish to donate to help premature babies in need.

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends pasteurized donor human milk for premature infants when a mother’s own milk is not available. Donor breast milk helps preterm or medically fragile babies build strong immune systems and it is easier on the digestive system.

“We are excited to be able to offer this service to the community and the generosity of nursing mothers in our area has far exceeded our expectations,” says Connie Miles, director of women’s and children’s services at CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

In the first year, St. Elizabeth collected more than 8,000 ounces of breast milk. In the second year, they almost doubled that number, collecting over 14,200 ounces, which equates to 174 gallons of breast milk.

In the United States, there is a shortage of human donor breast milk. The Mother’s Milk Depot helps increase the supply of donor milk. “Donor human breast milk is a valuable and rare commodity that has been shown to improve outcomes in at-risk infants,” said BJ Wilson, MD, neonatologist and medical director of the CHI Health St. Elizabeth NICU.

All donors are pre-screened and tested through an intensive screening process to ensure that they are healthy. Once the mom brings her donation to the milk depot, it is stored in a deep freeze until it is delivered to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa for processing. The donor milk is pasteurized and tested prior to bottling to ensure that it is safe for the baby and is also nutritionally sound. Frozen donor milk is transported from the milk bank to hospitals and given to babies in need.

Learn how to become a milk donor.

About the CHI Health St. Elizabeth NICU

St. Elizabeth NICU is a high-risk perinatal center that admits over 350 infants annually. Over the last 10 years, they have cared for nearly 600 infants with very low birth weight (as low as 320 grams or just over 1 pound). They have been awarded two Gold Seals of Approval™ for Pre-Term Labor and Prematurity by The Joint Commission. They are one of only five hospitals in the nation to receive this award for Pre-Term Labor and one of eight hospitals to receive the award for Prematurity.