Calgary milk bank serves as ‘lifesaver’ for struggling babies

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WATCH: A lot of Calgarians will be stepping up to help others this Friday on 770 CHQR’S annual Pledge Day radiothon. As Gil Tucker show us, some of the money raised will bring a big boost for some struggling little ones. – Nov 30, 2021

A lot of Calgarians will be stepping up to help others on Friday, Dec. 3 as Global New Radio 770 CHQR holds its annual Pledge Day radiothon.

Some of the money raised will bring a big boost to some struggling little ones.

Among them are Megan Campbell’s twins Lincoln and Faith, born four months premature on Valentine’s Day 2021.

Read more: Alberta breast milk bank to help more babies thanks to government grant

“When they were born, they (weighed) only a pound and a half, so there were a number of nights where they didn’t know if she would make it,” Campbell said.

“He had three surgeries: two on his belly and one on his heart.”

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Struggling to survive, the twins spent their first five months in neonatal intensive care.

“In the NICU, I was pumping my breastmilk for them the whole time they were in there,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately, once I got home, I lost my milk supply, so that’s when I contacted the NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank.”

Read more: “Milk bank” at BC Women’s Hospital the longest operating in Canada

Alberta’s only milk bank, NorthernStar, celebrated 10 years of helping thousands of families on Nov. 29.

“We’re not funded by the government, so we run as a charity, and we dispense milk to the hospitals,” NorthernStar’s executive director Jannette Festival said.

“(Breast milk) is just as much a medicine as it is a food, and so it’s very important to keep (babies’) immunities, to supply the nutrients that they need, so the donor milk has proven to be a lifesaver for these babies.”

Read more: Facebook vs. milk bank: Why some Alberta moms are sharing breast milk online

Claire Harris donated milk for several months after counting on the milk bank for her daughter Scarlett, now eight months old.

“I had a really challenging pregnancy and — like a lot of parents — a difficult start to breastfeeding,” Harris said. “We just had so much support and access to donor milk in Scarlett’s early days, so it felt like a way that I could give back.”

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Festival says the milk bank always welcomes new donors.

“Now most of our moms are vaccinated, so their antibodies get into the milk, which is great, so we can supply those babies in the NICU and give them protection from COVID as well,” Festival said.

Campbell is now looking forward to celebrating her twins’ first Christmas.

“All the moms who’ve donated, the difference that they’ve made to us has been really special.”

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