El Rio’s Birth and Women’s Health Center opens first human milk donation center in Arizona

TUCSON * On March 15th, El Rio’s Birth and Women’s Health Center became the first human milk donation site in Arizona. El Rio is partnering with Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Mothers’ Milk Bank is a Colorado-based, nonprofit program of Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation.

Mothers’ Milk Bank collects and processes the human donor milk then transports to babies across the country.

“It’s clearly the right thing to do in terms of supporting our community,” said Olga Ryan, registered nurse and manager at the El Rio’s Birth and Women’s Center. “Human milk is for human babies and we want to support every opportunity to give moms the chance to choose milk if their babies need food that they can’t supply themselves.”

This partnership will allow mothers with extra milk to donate to Mothers’ Milk Bank. The milk is given to babies who may be premature or have an illness and need human milk to thrive.

Jessica Tredici, a registered nurse at El Rio, introduced the idea to the center after touring the milk bank in Denver at a nurse conference.

“I thought it was a really cool, great idea and something that would be really good for our population, our community,” Tredici said.

According to a 2012 statement from American Academy of Pediatrics, donor human milk is the first choice when mom’s own milk is not available.

“Formula is still an option but since breast milk is so specialized for human babies,” Tredici said. “I think the milk bank just wants to make that available for every woman if that’s something she wants to choose.”

Mothers who are interesting in donating must undergo a through health screening. They must conduct a phone interview with a lactation consultant to see if they’re eligible then have blood work done.

Once cleared to become a milk donor, mothers can pump at the center or from the comfort of their home. The donated milk is kept in a freezer before being transported to the Denver facility.

Mothers’ Milk Bank dispenses more than 500,000 ounces of milk to babies in more than 115 different cities on an annual basis.

For more information on donating milk or Mothers’ Milk Bank, visit www.milkbankcolorado.org or call 303-869-1888