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, or simply drive up to SMH's main entrance and let a Valet Services team member know you are dropping off a milk donation; a HealthConnection team member will meet you at your car to pick up the milk. 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 2019, women donated 12,227 ounces of breastmilk through Sarasota Memorial, bringing the total donated since the SMH Milk Depot's inception to more than 34,000 ounces.
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.) Because SMH is currently restricting the number of visitors to the hospital due to COVID-19, we ask that donors please call ahead to HealthConnection to arrange dropoff: Call 941-917-7011.
Sarasota Memorial’s breast-milk donation program is one of several initiatives that helped the hospital earn designations as a Baby Friendly USA facility. SMH was the first hospital in southwest Florida—and among a select group in the nation—to earn the designation. The Baby-Friendly initiative is part of a global effort by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund to promote mother-baby bonding, successful breastfeeding and best practices in maternity care.