Milk Donation Bank Opens

Local News
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Eau Claire is now home to a potentially lifesaving operation for vulnerable infants in neonatal intensive care units. A new breast milk donation depot located in the Oakwood Mall allows women to donate their excess milk locally.
It’s an operation that’s been in the works for more than a year, and the first of its kind according to those spearheading the depot with help from the Northwestern Wisconsin Breastfeeding Network.
When mothers are unable to feed their newborns Lisa Stary, a lactation specialist at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital says human breast milk is the top choice as a supplement.
“Human breast milk is lifesaving to many neonates and many sick babies,”
As a mother of four who previously donated breast milk to a depot in Wausau, which she says is one of the closest to Eau Claire, she says it’s time to have one locally.
“Otherwise we have to travel, or ship the milk and package it up with dry ice,” Stary explained. ”It can be kind of a cumbersome process so it could deter some mothers who want to donate their breast milk from donating.”
Now a new breast milk depot is open at the Family Resource Center in the Oakwood Mall as a result of a yearlong effort by Denyse Schroeder and members of the NWBN.
“We looked at it as a need in the area, there were no other depots,”
Since the operation is only a week old, the freezer at the center is empty but once donations start coming in they’ll be sent to a regional milk bank based in Chicago.
“We will mail milk out whenever our freezer is full or every six months, whichever comes first.”
Once sent to the milk bank donations will be pasteurized, pooled and sent out to high-level ICU’s for newborns.
“The need is so great for the breast milk, for NICU’s and for even hospitals like our own,”
Sacred Heart is a level two neonatal care unit and can’t receive donations but Stary says with the continued addition of depots more hospitals may someday be able to receive the breast milk.
“We’d like to be able to offer human milk as a supplement if mothers aren’t able to provide milk of their own but right now we’re not able to do that because there’s not enough supply,”
Mothers wanting to donate must go through a screening process including a free blood test and once they’re approved will be given a donor number to use at depot locations.
Drop-off times are during open hours at the center. Those hours are from 9a.m-3p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9a.m to 1p.m. on Friday.
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