Hospitals benefit from state’s first breast milk bank in Guilford

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GUILFORD – The state’s first and only breast milk depot is now open in Guilford. Mothers can drop off milk at the depot to be shipped to the non-profit Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE), which then processes and distributes milk to hospitals.

The depot is located at Acelleron Medical Products on Boston Post Road in Guilford and it opened on February 25.

The first donor, Amy Farotti of North Branford, says she was a little skeptical at first, but decided to donate after learning about the babies who could benefit from her milk.

“I can’t even imagine being a mom with a NICU baby. I was so blessed with two healthy babies, so it’s something that I can do to help them and one less thing they would have to worry about,” said Farotti.

Jan Ferraro of Acelleron Medical Products says donor milk can be lifesaving for premature babies. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which affects one in ten of the smallest preterm infants. Human milk is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79 percent.

Farotti herself has already donated around 300 ounces, and Ferraro says other mothers are starting to be screened to become a donor.

“A NICU baby probably takes maybe an ounce every couple of hours. That’s 300 feedings this one mom has provided for babies everywhere,” said Ferraro.

Once the milk is shipped to MMBNE, it is screened, pasteurized and tested before being dispensed. The process is similar to that for donated blood, and donors must provide their health history, a blood test and have physician approval.

Currently MMBNE sends the milk to more than 600 hospitals and families in the Northeast, including the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Hospital of Central Connecticut, Manchester Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Ferraro said, "Hospitals right here in Connecticut are using this and it's saving babies' lives every day, so it's philanthropy that moms can do without any money at all, just what they already have."

Mothers who wish to donate milk can review guidelines on the Milk Bank website, www.milkbankne.org/donate, then contact a Donor Intake Coordinator for screening at 617-527-6263 x3 or donate@milkbankne.org. Approved donors can then drop off milk at the new depot by emailing Jan at jferraro@acelleron.com or calling 203 804-5974 to set up a drop-off time.