NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter’s, or CHKD, is in desperate need of milk donors. The breast milk bank, which provides milk for premature and sick babies at hospitals all along the East Coast, is experiencing a surge in demand.
“Can’t tell you why there’s more babies,” said Ashlynn Baker, CHKD Milk Bank Manager. “But we know when we talk to the hospitals and they are ordering double — triple their normal volumes of donor milk, and they’re ordering more frequently. It’s always because they have a census spike.”
The milk bank in Norfolk provides breast milk to dozens of hospitals from New Jersey to Florida. The spike in demand has caused a dip in their freezer supply.
Donor milk, Baker said, is not just food for NICU babies, it’s prescribed medicine. It contains human growth hormones, antibodies and proteins. It can prevent necrotizing enterocolitis, the number one killer of preemies, she added, and prevents the risk of NICU babies going blind or getting lung disease.
“So these babies are getting a teaspoon every three hours, some of them might get a tablespoon of milk, but these babies are so small they can fit in the palm of your hand,” Baker said.
One small bottle can feed 20 babies.
That’s just one extra pumping session a day for a breast feeding family who makes more than their healthy baby needs. Many have also donated milk, or white tears, after the loss of a newborn. It’s way for them to heal after and to help another baby grow up healthy.
They currently have about 350 donors, and are looking for another 100 to hit that “sweet spot” Baker said.
If you are interested in donating CHKD will pay to have your milk delivered to the milk bank and location is not an issue. They have donors up and down the East Coast. You just have to go through a screening process first. Click here to get started.