Local hospital helping premature babies across the country

CREATED May 29, 2014

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RACINE - Research has shown that breast milk is best for premature babies. Now Wheaton Franciscan All Saints is collecting donated breast milk from local mothers. 

"Infants, particularly infants under three pounds, do much better when they receive either their own mother's milk or donor milk rather than formula," explained Karen Strube, registered nurse and lactation program coordinator for Wheaton Franciscan All Saints.

The hospital ships the donated milk to a milk bank in Indiana, which processes and pasteurizes it.  It's then sent to neonatal intensive care units across the country. 

But that's expected to soon change. A new facility, Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, is set to open in Vernon Hills, Illinois at the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015. 

"Once the Vernon Hills milk bank is up and running, the milk that's donated to Vernon Hills will be kept between Illinois and Wisconsin, so the milk will actually stay here," Strube said.

Milk donors include women who have more milk than their babies need, along with mothers whose babies have passed away.

When a baby passes away, the mother "has a surplus of milk that she doesn't know what to do with, and so we offer her that opportunity to donate that milk so that she might help other infants," Strube said. 

Reaction from donor mothers has been positive.

"It's just a really wonderful feeling, the mothers say, to be able to know that your milk is going to help infants survive," Strube said.

And the mothers whose babies are benefitting from the milk are extremely grateful.


"It is really a medicine for the infants that are receiving it and it's very, very precious," Strube said.