November 24, 2015 9:30 pm

Calgary breast milk bank rebrands, expands and calls for more donors

NorthernStar Mothers' Milk Bank Executive Director, Jannette Festival and Clinical Coordinator Megan Hallam stand beside the facility's new logo

Heather Yourex-West / Global News

CALGARY – The Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank is no more. Three and a half years after opening its doors, Alberta’s only breast milk bank has been renamed the NorthernStar Mothers’ Milk Bank to reflect the fact that it now serves hospitals across the country.

“The milk bank can no longer be seen solely as a Calgary based organization,” said Jannette Festival, Executive Director. “While we’ll always have our base in Calgary, we needed a name that reflected our support of sick and fragile babies across Canada.”

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The Calgary facility is one of just three breast milk banks across the country. The other two are located in Vancouver and Toronto.  Festival says since opening, the bank has seen a significant increase in demand, growing at a rate of 50 per cent a year.

“In our first year we pasteurized and dispensed 30, 000 ounces and in 2015 we’ll pasteurize 130, 000 ounces.”

READ MORE: Breast milk bank urgently seeking new donors

In addition to its new name the bank is also expanding.  Adding five additional collection sites in Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Edmonton (Royal Alexandra Hospital), Yorkton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. This will bring the total number of depots to 11 with Lethbridge, Edmonton (Grey Nuns Hospital), Medicina Hat and Regina depots already in operation.

Festival says if anyone in these locations would like to become donors, they should first visit the milk bank’s website and arrange to be screened.

“One thing we don’t want is  for Mom’s to call the depots because the depots are a place for you to drop off your milk,  they’ll package your milk and they’ll deliver it safely to us – but for the actual screening you would call the milk bank in Calgary.”

Breast milk from the bank is purchased by hospitals throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC and in Winnipeg.  The breast milk is only available by prescription to infants in level two and three neo-natal intensive care units.


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