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SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center has officially joined forces with the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank (IMMB) to collect donor human milk at the first donation drop-off location in St. Louis beginning Aug. 7. Carefully screened donors will deliver their human breast milk to SSM Cardinal Glennon’s Milk Depot, where it will be frozen and stored until it is transported to IMMB, which provides pasteurized donor human milk to fragile NICU babies throughout the Midwest.

“We are very excited to partner with Cardinal Glennon to launch our first Milk Depot in St. Louis.  IMMB has been operating 10 Milk Depots in Indiana, Kentucky and Chicago for over 3 years and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Janice O’Rourke, executive director for the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank.  “We have seen steady increases in human milk donations from the St. Louis area and are proud to partner with such a great organization to provide this service for moms and families in the community.”

Denise Broeker, nurse and lactation consultant for SSM Cardinal Glennon, has worked to make the milk depot a reality for the St. Louis community. Broeker is a breast-feeding advocate who spends much of her time promoting breast-feeding in the neonatal intensive care unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon. 

“We see every day the incredible impact breast milk has on babies, particularly the sick and vulnerable babies that we care for in the NICU,” Broeker said. “Breast milk can provide critical nutrients, vitamins and antibodies that are difficult to replicate through formulas and supplements.”

Some of the donor breast milk comes from mothers who continue to produce breast milk even after the tragic loss of an infant. For these mothers, having the option to donate their breast milk is very important.

“Mothers who have experienced this sad situation want something good to come out of it,” Broeker said. “They had all these hopes and dreams for their baby. They often feel this is the one positive thing they can do in such a tragic situation.”

SSM Cardinal Glennon will join staff at Indiana and Illinois hospitals, as well as the Indiana State Department of Health WIC offices throughout Indiana, with depots currently operating in Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Michigan City, and Muncie, and South Bend.  “IMMB hopes to continue forging partnerships with organizations throughout the Midwest in order to make the process of human milk donation easier for donor moms and families, while also helping to support breastfeeding in local communities,” O’Rourke said. “This Milk Depot opening during World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated in more than 170 countries worldwide, marks an exciting period of growth and will support breastfeeding initiatives in place in the St. Louis community.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), breast milk is easy for infants to digest and contains nutrition and antibodies that can protect them from disease and infection.  Much of IMMB’s community outreach strives to support breastfeeding and the use of human milk.  The opening of a Milk Depot in the St. Louis community only strengthens the support of local breastfeeding initiatives.

Click here for more information about how to give donor milk.

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