Saturday, February 24, 2024

Nursing moms in Victoria can now donate their milk to help babies in need


Nursing mothers in the Greater Victoria area will now be able to donate their milk to benefit other babies in need, here and across British Columbia.

Last week, Victoria General Hospital (VGH) became an official Donor Milk Collection Depot for the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank, located at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver.

It is now the 18th drop-off location in BC: all the others are on the mainland.

“Nursing moms in Greater Victoria will be helping babies around the province by donating their extra milk to the provincial milk bank,” Health Minister Terry Lake said. “The milk bank makes a significant difference for families whose fragile babies need the nutrients from breast milk.”

“Breast milk is the optimal choice for infant nutrition,” Gillian Kozinka, Manager of VGH Perinatal and Neonatal Services said. “This new program benefits the tiniest, sickest babies in need, and we are grateful to the moms who have extra to give.”

Women who have been screened as “donors” will be able to drop off their raw, frozen donor breast milk between 1 and 3 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Mother Babe Unit on VGH’s third floor.

A typical donor is a healthy woman who is producing more milk than she needs to feed her own baby. Bereaved mothers who have lost their infants also may choose to donate their extra milk.

Donors are unpaid volunteers and must go through the Provincial Milk Bank’s pre-screening process before being allowed to give milk. Screening consists of a brief telephone interview to confirm potential donors are in good health, not taking select medications and/or supplements, and willing to undergo blood testing.

Any donations to the VGH will be sent to the Provincial Milk Bank at the BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver. The milk is then pasteurized and distributed to Neonatal Intensive Care Units across the province.

According to Island Health, since the BC Women’s Hospital launched the provincial milk bank in 1974, it has helped thousands of babies and children, screened more than 4,000 donors and processed 43,000 litres (1.5 million ounces) of milk.

The program received a funding boost in late 2012 to assist in expanding the program across the province, to increase the number of donations, and the volume of available pasteurized human milk.

Island Health says it is working on promoting the new service to local physicians, midwives, staff and allied health and community services. VGH staff members have already been trained to collect and store donor human milk.

Interested women who would like to become approved breast milk donors should contact the BC Women’s Hospital Provincial Milk Bank at 604.875.3743 or by email.

Victoria Buzz Staff
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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