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IHA only health authority in B.C. without breast milk drop-off depot

More than 66 litres of breast milk was collected Wednesday in an Okanagan valley-wide breast milk drive.

The drive is organized by the not-for-profit group OK Breastfeeding.

Those affiliated with the group told Global News the drive is vital especially in this region.

“We don’t actually have a milk depot in the Okanagan Valley and so moms who have breast milk and would like to donate it are facilitated by the drive,” OK Breastfeeding’s Nicki Albrecht said.

The milk is then transported to B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver to be distributed among the 13 neonatal intensive care units in BC. including one at Kelowna General Hospital.

The Interior Health Authority (IHA) is the only health authority in B.C. with no permanent breast milk drop-off location making it difficult for Okanagan residents to donate their milk.

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“You store it up or drive it to Vancouver yourself,” milk donor Jennifer Waid said.

Waid has collected 18 litres of her breast milk in the past month and donated it all during the drive to help babies and mothers in need.

“So many babies have so many problems and you know if their mothers don’t have the ability to produce, I mean they have other things to worry about if their baby is in the NICU,” she said.

IHA confirmed it is the only health authority in the province that does not have a permanent milk drop-off depot.

In an email statement to Global News, the health authority said it is currently reviewing the implementation, sustainability and costs associated with setting up such a depot.

“I think it is shameful,” Waid said. “I think if we avail ourselves of this precious gift we should be doing something to make it happen.”

The breast milk drive is held in the Okanagan three times a year.