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SMH Milk Depot to Collect Donated Breast Milk for Fragile, Premature Babies

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NICU BabySARASOTA (July 22, 2015) – SMH has opened a Milk Depot to make it easier for local moms to donate their breast milk to struggling preemies.

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 fragile, sick and premature babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units across the nation.

“Donating breast milk is like donating blood – it saves lives,” said Mary O’Connor, manager of Childbirth Education & Lactation Services at Sarasota Memorial. “For premature babies, especially the ones less than 3 pounds, breast milk is not only easier to digest, it builds their immune system, lowers their risk of life-threatening infections and improves their developmental outcomes.”

SMH’s Milk Depot was established in association with the Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida in Orlando, which screens mothers using a voluntary process similar to blood donations. The not-for-profit 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

Typically only babies under 3 pounds will meet the criteria for donated breast milk. They may need that milk for most of their stay, which could be months, or just a few days until their own mothers start producing. 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 the milk. The milk bank sells the milk to hospitals to cover basic costs. 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 Once approved, they can bring their frozen milk to SMH’s Milk Depot, which accepts donations daily (7am-6pm Mon-Fri; 10am- 4pm weekends).

Sarasota Memorial’s Milk Depot is one of several initiatives the hospital has undertaken recently to enhance maternity care and work toward achieving national Baby Friendly USA© designation. Last month, SMH was among the first hospitals in the nation selected to be part of the EMPower Initiative, a public health initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and promoting optimal breastfeeding practices.


About Sarasota Memorial
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800,000 patient visits a year. It delivers about 3,000 babies annually. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s largest, safest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care clinics and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers, to home health and skilled nursing & rehabilitation.

Media Contact: Kim Savage, (941) 917-6271

To see a news coverage of the first milk donation, visit ABC7 - SARASOTA

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