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Aspirus Breast Milk Program Helps Feed Babies

The start of 2018 marked a milestone for the Aspirus Breast Milk donation program. The program collected 7,000 pounds of donated breast milk in the program’s five years. That’s nearly 814 gallons of milk.

Aspirus is a milk depot center for The Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, a certified breast milk bank located near Chicago. “Women who are breastfeeding may have an overabundance of milk and for a variety of reasons might not use all of their milk,” said Chris Hanke, RN, Aspirus Women’s Health Nurse Navigator. “Programs such as ours are a way to capture excess breast milk for sick and premature babies who could benefit from the immunological properties of breast milk.”

Erin Heersma and her husband welcomed a daughter last spring. Erin noticed she was starting to accumulate an abundance of breast milk in her freezer after a couple of successful months of breastfeeding. “I was starting to run out of freezer space and wanted to donate my excess breast milk to a good cause,” said Erin. “I remembered the Lactation Consultant at Aspirus telling me about there being a breast milk donation program for mothers, infants, and caretakers in need and I decided I wanted to take the steps to become a donor.”

Mothers who are interested in becoming donors are screened for eligibility using a variety of health history questions and lifestyle questions. Donors are given lab tests to screen for any potential infections. The mother can begin donating milk once she clears the screening process.

Erin said the process was worth every minute. “I started with a phone interview, filled out a paper application, my daughter’s pediatrician and my family physician filled out paperwork stating that we are healthy, went through a no-cost blood draw, and then received a donor number. So far I’ve donated a little over 900 ounces, becoming a donor was more than worth every minute I spent during this process.”

Erin has found the experience very worthwhile.  “What I find most rewarding about donating breast milk is being able to help infants in need, to help them grow and thrive. Breastfeeding is challenging and doesn’t always go as planned, so being able to help out other mothers and caretakers is very rewarding.”

Mothers who are interested in becoming breast milk donors can call Aspirus Women’s Health at 715-847-0454,toll free at 888-236-2483, or by emailing milkdonation@aspirus.org

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