(Springfield, Ore.)- The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend will officially begin accepting donations as a collection partner for the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank of Portland today. The Sacred Heart RiverBend milk drop site is the first of its kind in Lane County and will serve as a crucial link between the milk bank and approved donors.
“Breast milk contains a unique mix of vitamins, proteins, sugar and fat that provides ideal nutrition for an infant,” said Deborah Jensen, a lactation specialist at the NICU. “It also contains antibodies, immune factors, enzymes and white blood cells that are crucial to immune system function and development. In the case of premature, ill or vulnerable infants, this immune system boost is vital to survival and recovery.”
Under the new agreement, Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend will serve as a collection site for milk donations from approved donors. Sacred Heart will not charge Northwest Mothers Milk Bank any fees and will continue to purchase milk at cost like any other facility.
“One in eight infants is born prematurely in the United States and many of these babies spend time in Neonatal Intensive Care Units like the one at Sacred Heart RiverBend,” said Juanita Stram, Clinical Manager for the NICU. “Breast milk is the best food an infant can get, period.”
Potential donors must first contact Northwest Mothers Milk Bank at (800) 204-4444 to schedule a preliminary screening interview. If approved, potential donors will then undergo a prepaid blood screening. Once approved and given a donor ID number, milk donors may call 541-222-6455 for information on the Milk Drop site’s hours.
Northwest Mothers Milk Bank was started in Portland on July 11, 2013, and is the first donor human milk bank in the Pacific Northwest. There are approximately 16 milk banks in the United States – all of which are members of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America (HMBANA).
“In much the same way that blood donors are saving lives, getting more milk into the HMBANA system will benefit many infants throughout the state,” said Jensen. “All screening expenses, including lab work, will be free to donors with all collection expenses being covered by Northwest Mothers Milk Bank.”