San Jose-based milk bank announces critical need for donor breast milk

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, February 29, 2024
SJ-based milk bank has critical need for donor breast milk
Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose is calling on moms to donate surplus breast milk.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose is calling on moms to donate surplus breast milk.

Mothers' Milk Bank, the nation's oldest milk bank, collects, processes and distributes to neonatal intensive Care Units across the state and beyond.

Jennifer Benito-Kowalski is the CEO of the nonprofit organization. "What we really need is the community's help to find and identify mothers willing to donate milk to us, their excess milk," Benito-Kowalski said.

Starting Thursday, Mothers' Milk Bank is kicking off their statewide initiative to get more donors enlisted.

"The application process takes about 10 minutes, and it goes a long way to save a baby's life," Benito-Kowalski said.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center receives all their donations directly from Mothers' Milk Bank.

Dr. Priya Jegatheesan is the director of the NICU at Valley Medical Center.

"Breast milk is one of the most important things that protects the baby against infection and also protects the neurodevelopment of any baby, especially very preterm infants," Jegatheesan said.

Dr. Jegatheesan says donated breast milk provides an option for families during a baby's first weeks of life.

"Our current feeding protocol means that we provide exclusive human milk feeding for all preterm infants until they are close to 35 weeks gestational age. And that is essential to promote our optimal growth," Jegatheesan said.

She said donated breast milk is one of the best things that can be done for NICU infants.

"Breast milk is crucial and has a big impact on the overall outcome of babies and mothers," Jegatheesan said.

Andrea Hernandez looked into being a donor after seeing the impact it can have for babies and mothers.

"My cousin gave birth to twins and they were both in the NICU, and she was telling me how she was trying to pump, and she was really just producing very little and so she was telling me luckily the hospital has donor breast milk," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said she had an extra supply after having her son. She donated her milk twice after having her daughter, Ariana, and is planning for a third donation.

She said after being screened, donating was easy.

"So it was like, two days later, I received a cooler in the mail, and I packaged up my milk, called FedEx, scheduled a pickup time and they picked it up and off the milk went," Hernandez said.

She said it feels awesome to be able to help babies in need.

"Us moms should stick together and help out those moms who you know can't produce for whatever it is they just can't. You know every bit counts, every drop counts, let's all stick together, let's help babies out... let's donate," Hernandez said.

Mothers who are currently breastfeeding or have excess milk can visit the Mothers' Milk Bank website or start the process of signing up here.