ROCKFORD, Illinois – SwedishAmerican is partnering with Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes and opening a human milk depot to benefit babies throughout Illinois and Wisconsin.

Pasteurized donor human milk is an important nutritional therapy for many at-risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies, as it provides numerous benefits in the absence of the mother’s milk, including infection-fighting factors, active growth and development hormones, improved digestion and ideal nutrition. While SwedishAmerican supports breastfeeding whenever possible, donor milk can be used when the mother has a low milk supply, is ill or on certain medications, or in cases of adoption or surrogacy.

“Breast milk is of the utmost importance to our smallest babies, as it gives them immunity, gut protection, and so many more advantages,” said Jan Southard, manager of the mother/baby unit at SwedishAmerican Hospital. “SwedishAmerican is proud to partner with Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, as this will offer a wonderful option to our patients in need of supplemental breast milk.”

The milk depot at SwedishAmerican will collect human milk donations from healthy, lactating women who are approved donors through Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. The donations are then sent to the milk bank, where they are pasteurized to eliminate any viruses and bacteria. After pasteurization, the milk is tested once again for safety and distributed to hospitals.

“Rigorous safety protocols ensure that pasteurized donor human milk is safe when it’s provided from a milk bank that adheres to guidelines from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America,” said Summer Kelly, Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. Potential donors are blood tested and thoroughly screened for communicable diseases, activities that increase the risk of blood borne diseases, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and medications. Milk collected from SwedishAmerican’s milk depot will help support the complex nutritional needs of sick and premature babies in Illinois and Wisconsin.”

SwedishAmerican and Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes will hold a grand opening for the milk bank on Tuesday, December 10 at 10 a.m. on the eighth floor of SwedishAmerican Hospital at 1401 E. State Street, Rockford). For more information on Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, visit www.milkbankwgl.org or hmbana.org.