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Northern babies receiving donor milk from provincial milk bank

Human milk is best for all babies but it’s especially crucial for infants who are very sick or born prematurely.

Some northern mothers receive pasteurized donor human milk from the provincial milk bank at the BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, which is then shipped to neonatal intensive care units including UHNBC.

Jen Boon is the Clinical Practice Lead at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Prince George who told Vista Radio it’s a well-used resource.

“We use this milk almost every single day. Every baby that is born very sick or pre-term is offered this milk and the parents have a choice on whether to use it or not but most of them choose to use this milk so it gets used very often.”

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“This is the most natural way of feeding a baby. We give this milk as a bit of a supplement until the mother’s milk can come in. Donor milk has active beneficial properties that are similar to the mother’s own milk and it provides babies with antibodies to help fight disease and infection.”

In addition, Boon also outlined the process of how parents in the north can be prospective donors.

“For parents who want to donate the milk that they have pumped or are looking to be prospective donors, they can go to the BC Children’s Milk Bank website and get all of that information – usually it means a doctor’s visit and blood work along with the signing off of a lactation consultant.”

“Once they have been approved in Northern Health, they can drop their milk off directly at the hospital to me, or you can send it on the Northern Health Bus, and then it will bring it to the hospital here, and then at that point, we collect, weigh it and send it back out to Vancouver for processing.”

The provincial milk bank has been in operation since 1974 and has processed over 43-thousand litres of milk while screening over 4,000 donors.

To learn more about the milk bank, click here.

If you are interested in donating milk, click here.

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