The mother's milk depot at the Sharp Mary Birch Hospital collects breast milk donated by women who produce more than their babies need. The milk is screened, cultured, pasteurised, frozen and fed to premature babies as an alternative to formula milk.
Bridget Fisher: The Mother's Milk Depot is a service where we collect and restore donated breast milk for mothers who are unable to feed their infants, breast milk for one reason or another. Michele Kothvade: We keep all of our pasteurized donor milk in the freezer and they will make you step-down area, when the physician request and rights in order for donor milk, the nurse notifies me, I go and take out approximately a weeks worth, put the baby's label on it with their name and information, and thaw out whatever the baby can eat within a few days. Laurie Watkins: At the moment, I am producing more milk than Keegan needs right now, but in the future when I bring him home, if I have extra that is definitely something that I would like to do is to donate my milk to the bank here at the hospital for use by other preemies that don't have any breast milk available to them. Dr. Nancy Wright: The mothers are screened very, very carefully with all sorts of blood test just as if you were going to give blood, then the milk is cultured, then it is heat, pasteurized, just like you pasteurized cow's milk. It kills if there is anything in there, it kills all of the viruses and all of the bacteria. Human milk normal healthy baby's mothers, human milk is not sterile, it has a good bacteria in it, that's how we learn -- our immune system learns to respond, but pasteurized donor milk is completely sterile. So after it's pasteurized, it's cultured again, if there is any bacteria growing it is tossed out, if it's sterile as it should be, it is frozen again and then shift to us frozen for us to use for our premature babies. Laurie Watkins: I think it's a wonderful idea. I am very fortunate that I am able to provide my milk for him, but I know as a mom, if I weren't able to do that, I would utilize that service and would really appreciate being able to have that at my disposal for him. Dr. Nancy Wright: Breast milk is very important for all babies, but for premature babies that can be literally life saving. It has been shown to have a decreased rate of infections specifically Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Sepsis which is a blood infection. The baby is tend to have less problems with their eyes, with retinopathy of prematurity and there is a small, but statically significant increase in IQ when you get your own mother's milk. With pasteurized donor milk, we have the benefit of mother's milk with very little change from heat treatment expect the milk is completely sterile, there is no risk of cross infection and we can use it until mother has enough milk of her own, or as a substitute, until the baby is ready to tolerate premature formula.