Mom feeding baby

Pennsylvania’s first breast milk bank accepting donations.

Pittsburgh Courier (October 8, 2015) – Pennsylvania’s first breast milk bank is now accepting donations from nursing mothers in anticipation of its November opening in Pittsburgh.

Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank will service sick babies throughout both Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The nonprofit’s 5,000-square-foot building will include a pasteurization and bottling laboratory, freezers and a classroom.

Officials said the milk is mostly intended for infants in neonatal intensive care units, but approximately 15 to 20 percent of donations will be distributed to outpatient babies.

Dr. Debra Bogen, the milk bank’s volunteer medical director, said breast milk helps protect preterm infants against disease. In 2012, the American Academy for Pediatrics recommended all babies weighing 3.3 pounds or less receive human milk.

Executive Director Denise O’Connor said interested donors must submit to a telephone interview, health questionnaires and a blood draw before approval.

Nursing mothers who are not approved for the milk bank are still encouraged to donate. Their milk will be used to further research at the facility.

O’Connor said the milk will cost approximately $4.50 per ounce. Donors are asked to commit to providing a minimum of 150 ounces because the bank covers the costs of screenings as well as storing and shipping.

Donations are accepted both in person and by mail.

O’Connor said Three Rivers has raised more than $700,000 for initial start-up costs and will be financially solvent in three years.

“Every foundation that we went to totally embraced this project,” O’Connor said. “It’s a simple solution that helps better the lives for the families in need. We’re beyond excited.”

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is also in the process of developing its own milk bank, but the hospital plans to keep the milk in-house.

Read the full story here.