Oregon’s first milk bank has opened. The bank will offer donated breast milk to maternity wards serving premature and other fragile babies in metro-area hospitals.
The Milk Bank’s director, Lesley Mondeaux says in years past, some Oregon mothers were donating to regional milk banks out of state.
That means frozen milk was sent to Denver or San Jose, then sometimes sent back when Oregon hospitals asked for it.
“There are 11 other banks in the United States. And so about five years ago a group of interested people, physicians, lactation consultants, advocates kind of sat down and said ‘Why do we not have a milk bank in our region?’ ” Mondeaux says.
Breast milk is one of the best protections against infection for at-risk infants. The bank is accepting donations from healthy, non-smoking women, pasteurizing the milk, and sending it to hospitals.
For now, Mondeaux says there’s only enough for hospitals and neonatal intensive care units, but she hopes the bank can expand to helping out-patient babies eventually.
Mondeaux says the need far outstrips the supply at the moment.