Medical Center Opens Donor Milk Depot
Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is excited to announce the opening of a donor milk depot in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. The new depot, the first in the Bangor area, will be open to receive milk donations beginning June 6, 2022, thanks to funding for a freezer to store the breast milk by Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Children's Miracle Network Hospitals’ program.
A donor human milk depot is a community location where donors who have completed the screening process can drop off milk for shipment to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. Currently, there are six milk depots in Maine, from Portland to Belfast. The newly added seventh depot, located in the Northern Light Family Medicine and Residency practice at 895 Union Street, suite 12, is an important step in increasing access and awareness of milk donation in northern Maine and in the Bangor region.
“The presence of a milk depot signifies a deep commitment to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of the community—the fragile babies whose lives depend on safe, pasteurized donor milk,” explains Duska Thurston, MD, Northern Light Family Medicine Residency. “We are delighted to partner with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast to serve the community in this way.”
A milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more milk than their babies need. Their staff screens donors, then pasteurizes and tests the milk. After those steps, they dispense it to babies who need additional milk. This comes at an important time as the country is dealing with a baby formula shortage. Milk banks across the country are experiencing steep increases in demand due to the crisis. Likewise, Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast saw an increase in demand of 20% from 2020 to 2021.
“We exist to help babies thrive and are dedicated to stewarding safe, compassionate connections between families who have an abundance of milk and those with need,” said Deborah Youngblood, Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. “We are working hard to grow as demand increases and this partnership with Northern Light is a wonderful way for us to continue to serve the Maine community,” she adds. Donor milk depots increase the supply of milk by raising awareness about the need for milk donors within the local community.
Human milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening condition that 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.
Donor milk has become the standard supplement to mothers' milk for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). In addition, an increasing number of hospitals will use donor milk in special care nurseries and well-baby units when babies need a supplement to their mothers’ own milk. Outpatients can also receive donor milk by prescription.
Families and healthcare providers seeking more information on receiving or donating milk can check the milk bank’s website at milkbankne.org/donate or call 617.527.6263.