The milk depot at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital is celebrating its second year of linking central Georgia mothers with extra breast milk with babies in need.
Since opening on Feb. 11, 2021, the milk depot has collected 30,216 ounces of donor breast milk, enough to provide nutrition for as many as 120,800 premature babies. One ounce of breast milk can provide nutrition for as many as four premature babies. The milk depot is the only one of its kind in central Georgia.
“Atrium Health Navicent is proud to support breastfeeding mothers and to help provide critical nutrition for babies in need,” said Dr. Mitch Rodriguez, a neonatologist and medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit and business development officer for Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. “The support of breastfeeding mothers donating excess expressed breast milk is essential in maintaining a supply of donor milk, and this has been an incredible program for our hospital, and our community.”
Through a partnership with The King’s Daughters Milk Bank in Norfolk, Va., potential donors undergo a medical screening process including a phone interview, an online form and a blood test. Once cleared, mothers can schedule a milk drop-off at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. The milk is then sent to The King’s Daughters Milk Bank where it undergoes additional processing and pasteurization. The processed milk is then dispensed by hospitals, including Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, through a prescription or physician’s order.
There’s no fee to donate and Atrium Health Navicent provides donor breast milk to premature babies at no cost to their families.
Studies show that breast milk is tied to a number of health benefits for babies. For premature babies in particular, the neonatal intensive care unit at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital has seen cases of a devastating intestinal condition reduced dramatically for those that received breast milk.
Babies born prematurely, before 34 weeks, need time to be able to grow and mature before being able to breastfeed directly from their mothers. Breast milk is the preferred and recommended form of nutrition for preterm infants. In some cases, a mother may be unable to provide breast milk or may choose not to. For those instances, donor milk is used to help babies get the nutrition they need to thrive.
Mothers interested in donating can call (478) 633-0319 for additional information about screening requirements and drop-off procedures.