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Sarasota Memorial Hospital opens breast milk bank in Venice

Donated breast milk is screened and pasteurized before deep freezing and distributing it to...
Donated breast milk is screened and pasteurized before deep freezing and distributing it to hospitalized babies who are in need.(Sarasota Memorial Hospital)
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 11:50 AM EDT
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VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - Sarasota Memorial Hospital has opened a second Milk Depot at its new Venice campus to allow moms to donate their breast milk to help struggling premature babies.

Sarasota Memorial established its first Milk Depot at the Sarasota Campus in 2015 to improve maternity care. So far this year, local women have donated more than 6,000 ounces of breast milk through Sarasota Memorial, bringing the total donated since 2015 to more than 62,157 ounces.

In a news release, the hospital says Milk Depots were established in association with the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida, which screens mothers using a voluntary process similar to blood donations, and is the only one of its kind in the state.

The nonprofit Milk Bank analyzes the milk of approved donors for calorie and protein content and then pasteurizes it to kill any viruses or bacteria. It then tests the milk to ensure it’s free of contaminates before deep freezing and distributing it to hospitalized babies who are in need.

“A mother’s own breast milk is always the best food choice for her newborn, but when a mother’s milk isn’t available, breast milk donated by thoroughly screened donors is the next best option for critically ill newborns or premature babies,” said Judy Cavallaro, director for Women’s and Perioperative Services at the Venice hospital.

Typically, only babies weighing less than 3 pounds will meet the criteria for donated breast milk. They may need that milk for most of their stay in a hospital’s intensive care nursery, which could be months, or just a few days until their mothers begin producing their own milk. Every 3 ounces can make up to nine meals or more for a premature baby.

There is no cost or compensation to moms to donate their milk. Local moms interested in donating their breast milk can start the screening process by calling the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida at 407-248-5050 or visiting milkbankofflorida.org.

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