BC’s Tiniest Babies To Benefit From New Program

BC’s tiniest babies to benefit from collaboration between BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank and Fraser Health

Submitted. Today the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank sent the first regular shipment of human donor milk to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Royal Columbian Hospital.

These shipments mark the completion of the first phase of a provincial initiative to expand the capacity of the Provincial Milk Bank to support BC’s tiniest, most vulnerable babies with safe, regulated donor human milk.

For sick and premature babies, the early days of life can be tough as they are at high risk for infection and complications. Milk from a baby’s mother is always the first choice, but new mothers may face challenges that prevent them from providing their own milk or breastfeeding.

When mother’s own milk is not available, pasteurized donor human milk is the next best option. Similar to mother’s own milk, pasteurized donor human milk has active beneficial properties, and provides babies with antibodies to fight disease and infection.The importance of having safe, pasteurized milk available to these mothers and babies is critical to the healthy development of children.

The demand for pasteurized donor human milk continuously exceeds supply, and the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank and Fraser Health are always looking for healthy mothers who have more breast milk than they need for their own baby.

Mothers who want to give milk to babies in need can collect and freeze their milk, complete screening and drop it off at a milk collection depot. Over the past year, Fraser Health has established milk collection depots at all of its public health units and has been transporting donated breast milk to the Milk Bank from the communities of Abbotsford, Agassiz, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Cloverdale, Delta North, Delta South, Guildford, Hope, Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, Newport, Newton, New Westminster, North Surrey and White Rock.

Milk donated to these depots is stored and transported to the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank where it is pasteurized. Pasteurized milk is then shipped to the NICUs at Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial Hospitals.

This collaboration between the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank and Fraser Health began in 2013, when the BC Ministry of Health announced a government grant of $650,000 to the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation to support the expansion of the Milk Bank as a provincial service. This funding has enabled renovations and the purchase of new equipment and technology in the Milk Bank to support a significant increase in capacity. The next phase will be for the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank to form similar partnerships with other health authorities, with the long-term goal of supplying milk to all the NICUs across BC.

More information about becoming a milk donor and the screening process please click here.

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