Program connects donated breast milk with hospitalized newborns in need

Posted at 7:19 PM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 16:21:15-04

A program at St. Luke’s locations across the Gem State is connecting donated human breast milk with premature babies struggling to survive.

The St. Luke’s downtown Boise location serves as a milk depot, acting as a donation drop-off location for Idaho moms willing to share their excess breast milk.

“It's a very special program,” lactation consultant Joan Hecker said. “Many times it's an opportunity to give back or just the spirit of generosity and kindness that they're willing to help another mom.”

Before donating for the first time, each mom undergoes a routine screening process to be sure they're healthy enough to share their milk. Lab work is only done the first time, and is free of charge at St. Luke’s.

“We make it as simple as possible we have them bring the frozen milk with them, they get their blood drawn, and just drop it and go,”Hecker said. “We take it from there and ship it to the Denver milk bank.”

Once it reaches Denver, the milk is pasteurized, re-packaged into individual servings, and shipped to NICUs across the country.

“We use it every day,” St. Luke’s Boise NICU nursing director Kim Froehlich said.. “We go through a lot of breast milk, but we couldn't do it without our donating mothers.”

“Boise's a community that gives, as we all know, but breast milk is no exception,” Froelich said. “It's something not everybody has the ability to donate, so it's an amazing thing our moms are willing to do and able to do.”

Breast milk has many health benefits for developing newborns, becoming the first choice for feed among many mothers.

“Breast milk reduces infection, it improves their growth and development, it can prevent ear infections, it can help with digestion and it can actually reduce their length of stay when they're a NICU infant,” Froelich said.

To learn more about the donation process you can call (208)381-7644 or click here.