SAN DIEGO - The need for breast milk is on the rise at hospitals in California and dozens of women lined up Wednesday to help newborns they've never met. Many experts consider breast milk as a lifeline for neonatal unit patients.
UCSD Health and the San Jose Mother’s Milk Bank hosted their first local breast milk drive to help with the supply. The donated frozen breast-milk helps premature babies across the county.
Nicole Losh drove from Temecula with her family to donate 750 ounces of her breast milk. She showed FOX 5 photos of her garage full of breast milk.
"I was running out of room," said Losh. “I went into the garage last night and laid it out month by month, week by week, and was able to donate quite a bit. We’re very glad we could do something like this.”
Losh knows firsthand about the impact of donor milk. Her twins, now 3 and a half years old, received donor milk while in the neonatal intensive care unit for 21 days.
For most hospitals in America, there is a limited supply. UCSD Medical Center partnered with the San Jose Mother’S Milk Bank, the oldest breast milk bank in the country, to help pump up the supply.
“This drive is an attempt to get the milk flowing,” said UCSD neonatologist Dr. Jae Kim.
Kim says breast milk donations save lives every day.
“It’s very similar to how we need blood for many different medical purposes because we can’t make blood,” said Dr. Kim. “Very small premature babies have such vulnerability particularly with their gut and risk infection. Giving them early exposure and protection with donor milk is an important way to protect them if mom’s milk is not readily available.”
Around 115 hospitals receive breast milk supply from the San Jose Mother's Milk Bank. It helps countless mothers who have given birth to premature babies and are unable to produce their own or those mothers unable to breastfeed their babies due to complications from disease or medications.
Losh said her twins are healthy today because of the donor milk they received in their first days, and she says she’ll make that long drive again to help other families who need it.
“Sometimes it’s easier for other mom’s and sometimes its not. It’s nice to be able to do that for mom’s that are struggling and aren’t able to breastfeed, aren’t able to have their breast milk come in. There may be health complications, with themselves or the babies that they won’t latch makes being able to get the breast milk in general is a big health thing,” said Losh.