Interior Health has introduced human milk depots in Kamloops and Kelowna, bringing to 28 the number of such depots in the province.
The depots accept raw, frozen milk, which is transported to the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank in Vancouver. Donors are pre-screened and the donated milk is pasteurized at the provincial milk bank and distributed to hospitals throughout B.C.
While many breastfeeding mothers in Interior Health have donated milk through periodic milk bank drives in the community, the introduction of collection depots at the Kamloops Health Unit and the Community Health Centre in Kelowna will help more people become donors and will allow them to donate on a continuous basis.
“Two new milk depots for Kelowna and Kamloops will help infants in the very first, fragile stages of their lives and are incredibly important for those first few days,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.
According to Interior Health, human milk has many health-promoting properties for babies, including antibodies to fight infection and disease, and is especially important for sick and very tiny babies.
“Screened and pasteurized donor human milk is often in high demand at hospitals across the province for premature or sick infants. While a mother’s own milk is always the first choice, pasteurized donor human milk is extremely beneficial for at-risk newborns, such as those born prematurely,” said Rob Finch, Interior Health’s maternal, newborn, child and youth network director.
Pasteurized human milk is used at Interior Health neonatal intensive care units in Kamloops and Kelowna.
Joanne Juras of Breastfeeding Matters Kamloops, which recently held a breastfeeding awareness event at the Kamloops Regional Farmers’ Market, said the Kamloops organization and OK Breastfeeding in Kelowna have shipped hundreds of litres of breastmilk over the years.
The BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank has been in operation for 45 years. It has helped tens of thousands of babies and children, screened more than 6,500 donors and processed 60,000 litres of milk.
New donors are welcome and must complete the Provincial Milk Bank’s pre-screening process before they can donate their milk. Screening consists of a telephone interview to confirm potential donors are in good health, not taking select medications and/or supplements and willing to undergo blood testing.
For information contact call 604-875-3743 or go online to bcwomens.ca and search “milk bank.”