RATON, Fla. — A hospital here has joined a movement in
Florida and elsewhere to become a breast milk depot that has
teamed up with Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida to help provide
premature and critically ill babies the nutrition they need.
Raton Regional Hospital now serves as a depot for interested
donors who qualify. The milk dropped off at the hospital will
be sent to Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida in Orlando to be
distributed across the state.
really a gift to these babies who are born at-risk," said
Karen Kesler, founder of Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida.
"You want to give them the best care possible. and that’s
depot in Boca is one of nine in the state and one of three in
South Florida, Kesler said.
Beach resident Kacy Sallusto was a driving force behind the
opening of the milk depot at Boca Regional Hospital, said
Karen Edlington, director of Women’s and Children’s
Services at the hospital.
Sallusto, 29, gave birth last November to twin girls nearly 10
weeks early, she insisted they receive only human milk during
their six-week stay in the hospital’s neonatal intensive
the case with many moms who give birth prematurely, Sallusto
was not immediately able to produce milk for her babies.
said if you have to feed them before my milk comes in, then we’ll
order donor milk," she said.
time, the hospital did not have a policy to provide donor
milk, so doctors made special arrangements to have human milk
delivered from a milk bank in Texas at Sallusto’s expense,
never seemed right that we couldn’t offer that to all of our
babies, and there were going to be some parents who maybe
couldn’t afford to do that," she said.
August — roughly nine months after Sallusto gave birth —
the hospital opened as a milk depot, collecting donated breast
milk for babies in need.
babies deserve to get the very best start, and we can be a
part of doing that," Edlington said.
looking to drop off milk at the depot must be registered
through Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida, Edlington said. Milk
collected at the hospital is delivered to the milk bank in
Orlando, where it’s tested and pasteurized before being
distributed to neonatal intensive care units.
American Academy of Pediatrics says, "if a mother’s
milk is not available, then human donor milk is the next best
thing," Edlington said. "There’s a lot of evidence
milk improves health outcomes overall of premature infants and
decreases the rate of necrotizing enterocolitis, a
gastrointestinal disease that causes destruction of the bowel,
can decrease infection, it can decrease length of stay (at the
hospital)," she said. "It’s tolerated better by a
preemie (than commercial formula)."
milk also helps babies with feeding intolerance, intestinal
injuries and other life-threatening conditions.
medicine, parents must provide consent before a baby can
receive donated milk, Edlington said.
had nobody really that hasn’t wanted to do this for their
baby," Edlington said. "At first people think, ‘Would
somebody really want to use somebody else’s breast milk?’
But overwhelmingly, we’ve had such a positive response that
we’re doing that."
bank in Orlando follows guidelines set by the Human Milk
Banking Association of North America.
lactating moms with a baby younger than 12 months can become a
donor, Kesler said. The best candidates are new moms who
produce more milk than their babies can drink.
donors are screened for health issues at the milk bank’s
expense. Once approved, a donor expresses and stores her milk,
and drops it off at the nearest depot within six months.
week of the depot opening in Boca, at least three moms reached
out to the milk bank to become donors. Julie Haggerty was one
just lucky enough to produce a lot of milk at a time,"
she said. "I think it’s a gift I can give to