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Interior Health opens breast milk donation depots in Kelowna, Kamloops

The depots provide a place to drop off raw, frozen milk, which is transported to the B.C. Women’s Provincial Milk Bank in Vancouver. File / Global News

Interior Health says it is opening two new depots for mothers to donate breast milk.

According to Interior Health, the new collection depots, in Kelowna and Kamloops, will allow women to donate on a continuous basis as opposed to periodic milk bank drives.

“Two new milk depots for Kelowna and Kamloops will help infants in the very first, fragile stages of their lives, and are incredibly important for those first few days,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a press release.

“I am proud of Interior Health for making this happen and thank the selfless donors who provide milk to meet the ever-growing demand.”

READ MORE: Okanagan mothers donate 50 litres of breast milk for B.C. Women’s Hospital

IH says human milk has many health-promoting properties for babies, including antibodies to fight infection and disease, and that it is especially important for sick and very tiny babies.

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“Screened and pasteurized donor human milk is often in high demand at hospitals across the province for premature or sick  infants,” said Rob Finch, Interior Health’s maternal, newborn, child and youth network director.

“While a mother’s own milk is always the first choice, pasteurized donor human milk is extremely beneficial for at-risk newborns, such as those born prematurely.”

Pasteurized human milk is used at Interior Health neonatal intensive care units in Kamloops and Kelowna.

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Interior Health says there are now 28 milk depots in B.C.

The depots provide a place to drop off raw, frozen milk, which is transported to the B.C. Women’s Provincial Milk Bank in Vancouver. Donors are pre-screened and the donated milk is pasteurized at the provincial milk bank and distributed to hospitals throughout B.C.

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“We are thrilled to have all of the health authorities support the provincial milk bank,” said Stephanie Gillespie, a lactation consultant at B.C. Women’s Provincial Milk Bank.

“We supply mother’s milk to the most fragile babies across B.C., and with the addition of these new milk depots, mothers from the Interior can more easily donate to families in need.”

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Interior Health says new milk donors are welcome, but that they must complete a pre-screening process before donating milk. For information, call 604-875-3743 or click here.

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