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Breastfeeding moms can help critically ill children by donating excess milk

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital opens Beaverton’s first breast milk drop-off site

Breastfeeding moms who produce more breast milk than their child requires for optimal health now can donate the precious resource to infants, babies and toddlers with life-threatening diseases or conditions at a new breast milk drop-off site at the OHSU Doernbecher Specialty Pediatrics - Westside practice in Beaverton’s Bethany neighborhood.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this service and already have a number of moms who are ready to donate today,” said Ruby Jason, M.S.N., R.N., N.E.A.-B.C., division director, Women and Children’s, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

The site is named in honor of Ashleigh Mackay Aldersea, a premature infant who died in February 2001 at the age of 13 months. Despite a thriving start, Ashleigh died from complications associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an intestinal disease common in premature infants. Research has shown that feeding medically fragile infants breast milk helps prevent NEC. The nutrient-rich milk also eases digestion, promotes growth and development, and helps to prevent infection.

Healthy breastfeeding moms who would like to donate their excess milk will be screened through the San Jose Mother’s Milk Bank. Applicants will be asked to provide a brief medical history and get consent from their and their baby’s physicians, ensuring both mom and baby are getting enough nutrients. They also will need to get a blood test, paid for by San Jose mother’s Milk Bank. Approved donors will receive an ID number, which they will use when making arrangements to drop off their milk.

“When my own daughter was born six weeks early, I was grateful that I was able to provide breast milk for her. I feel it is one of the reasons she has done so well. It is a privilege for me to be in a position to help other babies in our community,” said Neysa Larson, 35, the first breastfeeding mom registered to donate at the new Beaverton site.

Donations from approved donors will be accepted at the Ashleigh MacKay Aldersea Memorial Donor Drop-Off Site on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, beginning Thursday, July 14.

Collected milk will be packaged and shipped to the San Jose Mother’s Milk Bank, where it will be processed and pasteurized for distribution to critically ill infants in Oregon and across the country.

Portland currently does not have a milk bank. The group Northwest Mothers Milk Bank is raising funds to establish one.

Breastfeeding moms interested in becoming a breast milk donor can call OHSU Lactation Services, 503-494-2768, or visit the San Jose Mother’s Milk Bank website for more information. The OHSU Doernbecher Pediatrics – Westside practice is located in Beaverton’s Bethany neighborhood, 15220 N.W. Laidlaw, Suite 102, Portland, OR 97229.

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