Emerson Hospital, in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, today announced the grand opening of its human milk depot. Emerson’s depot is in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast of Newton, Massachusetts and is in keeping with patient requests.
The milk depot is where screened milk donors can drop off human milk for shipment to the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE). The milk bank then screens, pasteurizes, and tests the milk and dispenses it primarily to premature and ill babies whose mothers do not have enough milk for them. Mothers from all over Emerson’s service area are now be able to drop off their milk conveniently at the depot for safe donation to babies who need it.
“Our maternity team is focused on providing the highest-quality and safest care for new moms and their babies,” said Joanna Vallie, Director of Maternity at Emerson Hospital. “Two years ago we partnered with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast to offer pre-screened donated human milk to newborns who need it. We are very pleased to extend our partnership with MMBNE and become a milk depot to make it easier for donors to help babies who need breast milk to thrive.”
Human milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which affects one in ten of the smallest preterm infants. Human breast milk is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79%. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.
Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes having a donor provide a health history, a blood test and obtain their physician’s approval. These are just some of the measures taken to ensure the safety of donated milk for premature and sick babies served by MMBNE and hospitals that use milk from MMBNE. The donated breast milk is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure its safety before it is dispensed by MMBNE to families and hospitals.
“Donor mothers find the experience of donating their breast milk very meaningful. The new depot at Emerson Hospital makes it more convenient for mothers to donate their milk and provide an opportunity for them to share information about this unique, lifesaving gift,” commented Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. “We are very proud of our relationship with Emerson Hospital, a leader in maternity and pediatric care.”
Kate Peltz, a milk donor mom from Concord, said, “After I gave birth to my son at Emerson, I donated my extra milk as a beneficial and easy act that could be life-sustaining for a newborn and soothing for parents who are worried about their baby’s health. I am excited that Emerson Hospital is now a milk donor depot, making it much more convenient and easy for moms to donate their milk and help others in need.”
Donor milk is rapidly becoming the standard supplement to mothers' milk for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). In addition, an increasing number of community hospitals with regular and special care nurseries, including Emerson Hospital, use donor milk when babies need a supplement to their mothers’ own milk. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a milk donor, please call MMBNE at 617-527-6263 or visit www.milkbankne.org.
Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton and Westford and urgent care centers in Hudson and Littleton. The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns. To learn more, visit www.emersonhospital.org.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast is a nonprofit community milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). MMBNE has been screening donors, pasteurizing milk, and dispensing to over 80 hospitals and to families throughout the Northeastern United States since 2011. To learn more, visit www.milkbankne.org.