Breast-milk Donation Program
A partnership between Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida makes it easier and more convenient for local women to donate their breast milk and help feed thousands of babies in Florida’s Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs).
“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.”
Approved donors can drop off their breast milk at Sarasota Memorial’s Milk Depot in HealthConnection, conveniently located on the hospital’s first floor. Our staff will ensure that it is safely stored and transported to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida in Orlando, a non-profit that distributes the milk to fragile, sick, and premature babies in NICUs across the state.
Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida in Orlando screens breast milk donors using a voluntary process similar to screening blood donors. The Milk Bank also analyzes donated milk for calorie and protein content, then pasteurizes it to kill any viruses or bacteria, and tests it for contaminates before deep-freezing and distributing it to hospitalized babies in need.
Just 3 ounces of donated breast milk can make nine meals or more for a preemie baby. In 2016, local women donated 5,850 ounces of breastmilk through Sarasota Memorial.
There is no cost or compensation to the milk donors, who spend countless hours pumping breast milk in order to donate to the Milk Bank of Florida. The bank covers program costs by selling the donated milk to hospitals statewide, including Sarasota Memorial.
How to Donate Breast Milk at SMH
Local women 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 milkbankofflorida.org.
Once approved through the Milk Bank and given a donor ID number, they should bring their frozen milk to SMH’s HealthConnection, which accepts donations from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. (Each bag of donated, frozen breast milk should be labeled with the donor ID number.)
The donation dropoff process takes about five to 10 minutes. Breast-milk donors are welcome to temporarily park in the hospital’s Mother-Baby Discharge area for fast and easy access to the dropoff site in HealthConnection.
Sarasota Memorial’s breast-milk donation program is one of several initiatives the hospital has undertaken to work toward achieving the national Baby Friendly USA designation. SMH was among the first hospitals in the nation selected to be part of the EMPower Initiative, a public health project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at increasing national breastfeeding rates and promoting breastfeeding best practices.