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B.C. breast milk bank in need of donors to boost supplies for vulnerable newborns


A breast milk bank at B.C. Women’s Hospital which provides donated milk to neonatal intensive care units around the province is running low on supplies and is putting out a plea for more donors.

The provincial milk bank’s program coordinator Frances Jones said they currently have just under a month’s supply.

“We like to have two to three months in our freezer for our raw milk, so that we can always be ahead and not be concerned that we’ll run out,” she said. “The population that is most in need is premature infants, and often for the mothers of those babies, getting their milk supply started is a challenge.”

Jones said they’ve had a number of donors “retire,” and are hoping more will step forward to help.

“We supply all 14 of the neonatal intensive care units in the province and of course, those are the most fragile patients in the province,” Jones said. “We never quite know week to week how much milk will be ordered.”


Cindy Li’s baby Ethan was helped by donor milk after being born early at the end of May.

“That I was able to access the donor's milk for my baby is a huge peace of mind, and it’s a huge help at that stage as a new parent. With an unexpected early delivery, with a premature baby, you know there is a lot to process at that point,” she said. “I feel very, very thankful for the program.”

Li said at about 32 weeks pregnant, she woke up one morning to discover she was bleeding. She ended up delivering her son just before about a week later.

“I was totally not expecting that, because throughout my entire pregnancy everything was very smooth,” she said. “He is fine, which I’m so, so glad about.”

Li said her little boy spent a month in the neonatal intensive care unit before going home. He is now almost five months old, and Li said he is sleeping and eating well.

“He is very adorable. He smiles at everybody. Anyone can hold him and he’s happy,” she said. “We’re just really happy to experience life again with the little one through his eyes and placing ourselves in his shoes, and to just kind of explore the world again.”

Li has also become a milk bank donor herself.

“I thought my baby once benefitted from donors milk, I would love to become one of the donors,” she said. “I am very happy to do that…donating it is very easy, so I think this is great.”


Anyone who is interested in donating breast milk to the bank can find out more on the hospital’s website.

Donors first go through a screening process. Frozen milk donations from approved donors can be dropped off at local depots, which are found in various health regions around the province. The milk is then screened, bottled and pasteurized, and then frozen again before distribution. The milk is shipped out to NICU’s and sometimes maternity units throughout British Columbia. Top Stories

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