Providing care to the hospital’s tiniest patients---the milk lab at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is equipped to feed up to 70 premature babies. “We see these babies when they come in, and they are so small. These feeds start at 1ML, and you can just imagine how small and tiny that is,” said Elizabeth Futral, a milk lab pharmacy technician with Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Using the mother’s breast milk, pharmacists can add additional calories, protein, and fortifiers to promote babies growth and development. “We get a recipe from the registered dietitian who works with the doctor to make sure that the baby is getting enough calories and protein and nutrients,” said Futral.
But if mothers can’t produce breast milk, health experts turn to donor breast milk. “There are a lot of factors that can cause mothers to not produce milk, such as stress, or having multiple babies that they just can’t make that much milk for, and we know that breast milk is the best form of nutrients for these babies, so we use donor milk in those cases to fill that need,” she said.
Lee Health is a donor milk depot where mothers can bring their breast milk to help babies in need. The donations are then sent to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida who tests and pasteurizes the milk before sending it back to the hospital. “To qualify to be a donor of breast milk, you actually have to be in exceptional health, you have to be a non-smoker, you can’t be on any medications, and you have to go through a questionnaire,” Futral said.
Donor breast milk is used as a bridging service until the mother can produce her own milk for the baby. “This is our way of showing the importance to the mothers and making sure that each baby is getting its mother’s milk,” she said.
Generous donations that keep babies nourished during the most critical time of life.