Catholic Char­i­ties wants your ex­tra breast milk

Lo­cal chap­ters will col­lect do­na­tions for re­gional bank

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By MARTHA SHANA­HAN Day Staff Writer

The lo­cal chap­ter of Catholic Char­i­ties is look­ing for do­na­tions from peo­ple who have more breast milk than they can use.

A grant dis­trib­uted by the Thames Val­ley Coun­cil for Com­mu­nity Ac­tion has al­lowed the Nor­wich Dio­cese Catholic Char­i­ties branch to turn their of­fices in Nor­wich and New Lon­don into de­pots where donors can drop off bags of breast milk — un­used be­cause they’re pro­duc­ing more than their in­fant can use, or be­cause an in­fant died and their bodies are still mak­ing milk — for do­na­tion to the re­gional milk bank.

Mother’s Milk Bank North­east, ac­cred­ited by a na­tional non­profit breast milk do­na­tion pro­gram, will dis­trib­ute the milk to neona­tal in­ten­sive care units in hospi­tals across the re­gion and to peo­ple who re­quest do­na­tions through the Mother’s Milk Bank pro­gram.

The milk is given to pre­ma­ture in­fants as a sup­ple­ment to their moth­ers’ milk in neona­tal in­ten­sive care units or nurs­eries, or used in cases that moth­ers can’t breast­feed their chil­dren for med­i­cal rea­sons.

Hu­man milk can help pre­vent pre­ma­ture in­fants from con­tract­ing dis­eases like necro­tiz­ing en­te­ro­col­i­tis, which af­fects their in­testines, if the in­fant’s mother can’t pro­duce milk, said Ann Marie Lindquist, a spokes­woman for Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east.

Mid­dle­sex Hospi­tal, Con­necti­cut Chil­dren’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter, St. Fran­cis Hospi­tal and Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Hospi­tal of Cen­tral Con­necti­cut, Manch­ester Memo­rial Hospi­tal, Bridge­port Hospi­tal and Yale New Haven Hospi­tal all use do­nated milk from Mother’s Milk Bank North­east, ac­cord­ing

Mother’s Milk Bank North­east, ac­cred­ited by a na­tional non­profit breast milk do­na­tion pro­gram, will dis­trib­ute the milk to neona­tal in­ten­sive care units in hospi­tals across the re­gion and to peo­ple in need through the Mother’s Milk Bank pro­gram.

to a news re­lease.

“It could be a lifesaver, the­o­ret­i­cally, for a baby that’s not get­ting what they need,” said Anissa Mrowka, a preg­nancy ed­u­ca­tor with the Dio­cese’s branch of Catholic Char­i­ties.

The two freez­ers, which Mrowka will mon­i­tor, will be the only avail­able drop-off points in the re­gion for breast milk — the clos­est drop-off lo­ca­tions are in Guil­ford and Dan­bury.

Peo­ple who are pro­duc­ing more milk than they need can reg­is­ter with Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east, which will con­duct a blood test, health screen­ing and get a doc­tor’s ap­proval be­fore they reg­is­ter the per­son as a donor.

Af­ter they’re reg­is­tered, donors can make an ap­point­ment to drop off their do­na­tions, which must to­tal at least 100 ounces of milk at a time, to the Catholic Char­i­ties of­fices ad­ja­cent to the St. Mary Star of the Sea church on Hunt­ing­ton Street in New Lon­don or its of­fice at 331 Main Street in Nor­wich.

Mrowka will im­me­di­ately ship the do­na­tions to Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east, which will have the milk pas­teur­ized and tested by an in­de­pen­dent lab be­fore dis­pens­ing it to hospi­tals or fam­i­lies.

The two new drop-off lo­ca­tions will bring the num­ber of Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east drop-off lo­ca­tions to 16.

Ann Marie Lindquist, a spokes­woman for Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east, said Thurs­day that the or­ga­ni­za­tion col­lects do­na­tions and dis­trib­utes milk to in­fants in Maine, New Hampshire, Mas­sachusetts, Rhode Is­land, New York and Penn­syl­va­nia, in ad­di­tion to Con­necti­cut.

“We would like to make milk do­na­tion as well-known as blood do­na­tions,” Lindquist said. The milk bank of­ten hears from peo­ple who have thrown out freezer-fulls of un­used milk be­cause they didn’t re­al­ize they could do­nate it, she said.

One wo­man from Nor­wich who had al­ready reg­is­tered with Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east brought a do­na­tion of more than 100 ounces of milk to a grand open­ing event at the Nor­wich Catholic Char­i­ties of­fice Thurs­day, and Mrowka said oth­ers have ex­pressed in­ter­est in the pro­gram since they be­gan to pub­li­cize it.

DANA JENSEN/THE DAY

Jamie McCann, right, a milk donor, and her son, Hayes McCann, 1, both of Nor­wich, hand Anissa Mrowka, a preg­nancy ed­u­ca­tor with Catholic Char­i­ties, a do­na­tion on Thurs­day to place in the new 7-cu­bic-foot chest freezer, cen­ter, af­ter the rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mony for the new Moth­ers’ Milk Bank North­east at the Catholic Char­i­ties Nor­wich Dio­cese. The freezer will store the do­nated hu­man milk at the re­quired mi­nus 120 de­grees Cel­sius.

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