It’s surprising that until now, a state as large as California had only one community breast milk bank. Thankfully, San Diego residents and former UC San Diego students Hannah and Zachary Johnson are changing the status quo with a generous donation to UC San Diego, which will go directly toward building the Mother’s Milk Bank. Set to be the first community milk bank in Southern California, the center will address critical needs for some of the area’s most vulnerable and newest citizens: babies! For certain hospitals in the San Diego area, donor milk is in critical demand, and the Johnsons’ gift is an important step in helping provide the region with breast milk and the educational tools and accessibility to keep the donor milk bank supplied.

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Image © flickr user hkinuthia

In addition to collecting, screening, and providing milk to babies in local hospitals who are especially vulnerable, Mother’s Milk Bank will work with groups in the community to promote breastfeeding education and awareness and to provide more information on milk donation itself and how mothers can donate. The babies who receive milk donations are often preemies, babies with very low birth weight, or babies with intestinal injury. Providing infants with breast milk instead of formula can help prevent certain infections, result in shorter NICU stays and provide better long-term developmental outcomes. Additionally, breast milk is easier for infants to digest.

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Dr. Jae Kim, one of the two physician/medical directors who will help develop Mother’s Milk Bank says,”We expect to reduce infant morbidity and mortality in the region by generating more milk for the region and building awareness of the importance of human milk for premature infants.” Hannah Johnson’s sentiments echo those of Dr. Kim: “There is no nutrition as beneficial to a new life as that from mother’s milk, and it is with much passion that we seek to support every family who is striving to give their children the best start in life.”

via UC San Diego

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