CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — For most new moms, breast milk for their babies is relatively easy to provide. For some mothers, it's not so simple and even impossible to produce themselves, especially if their babies are born early.
The milk is important and even critical, says Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center specialty dietician Laura Oltman.
“In some babies, medically fragile babies, human milk is the only option for them- so it means that they would die without it; it's essential to their survival,” said Oltman.
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The good news is some women produce more milk than they need for their own. That's where milk donation comes in.
Northwest Mothers Milk Bank is based in Tigard and serves the entire northwest, collecting, pasteurizing and dispensing donated mothers' milk to babies with medical needs.
Now, working with the non-profit, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center is the first donor milk distribution site in southwest Washington.
It works thanks to generous donors like Karina Zhukov.
Zhukov donated for three months and had an abundant supply to share. She says it was important to give back after her milk came in. She relied on donor milk for her daughter and her son who was born two months premature.
To those women who donated like it makes me tear up, I just want to say thank you and it meant so much because my babies needed it, couldn't survive without it,” said Zhukov.
The milk in the Legacy Salmon Creek pharmacy is there for any mom with a referral or prescription. It makes it much more convenient than a trip to Tigard.
Kim Robey is another mom who benefited from donated human milk. Her two daughters were unexpectedly born six weeks early before Kim could provide.
“With them being so premature and so little that giving them those benefits would definitely benefit them in the future and help them grow and be the big babies they are now,” said Robey.
When Robey began to produce milk, she needed it all for her twins. But she said she hopes to be able to donate breast milk, if giving birth is again in her future.
Donated mother's milk is not the first thing you think of at the pharmacy.
But Oltman said, with its key woman-made ingredients, it is best for babies.
“We know that human milk is the golden standard of nutrition for babies.”