MADISON (WKOW) — History was made when UW Health’s Odana Road Clinic became the site of Madison’s first milk depot.
“Milk is really precious,” Dr. Anne Eglash said. “And, there are a lot of babies who don’t have access to their mother’s own milk.”
Eglash holds many titles in the world of breastfeeding medicine, including co-founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Medical Director of the University of Wisconsin Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic and Medical Director of the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.
“It’s unethical for women to not have help in the medical field for breastfeeding, and so I just kind of made that my life mission,” Eglash said.
In 2006, Eglash helped establish the first milk depot in all of Wisconsin in Mount Horeb. Later, she helped bring one to Cottage Grove, and now, she had brought one to Madison through a partnership between the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes and UW Health.
Through the program, milk is donated by healthy, lactating women who are screened and approved to be donors.
“The screening is very similar to what we do for blood donation,” Eglash said. “Most people can donate.”
The milk is then pasteurized to kill any germs and given to babies who need it most, such as, preemies, or babies who are sick.
“Their lives are changed. They’re just much healthier. They have a lower risk of chronic disease and death actually, if they have access to this milk,” Eglash said.
One baby who utilized the program was London, who was born at 24 weeks old and weighed less than one pound. Today, London is seven-years-old and thriving. Her mom, Rachel, said she believes it is because of milk donors her daughter has done so well.
“She received donations from over 60 different mothers which is really quite incredible and there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about those moms,” Rachel said.
You can watch London’s full story here.
Susan Urbanski, Program Manager of the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, said their organization saw a 20% increase in demand for donor milk this year as a result of baby formula shortages and supply chain issues. Fortunately though, she said they also saw a 20% increase in donations to meet that.
“Our donors have come through with flying colors, to help support families during what’s really been sort of a critical time as far as infant feeding goes in this country,” Urbanski said.
Urbanski encourages others to donate to care for not only the babies who need formula most, but also, all babies.
“Any healthy, lactating woman, if you think you might have enough milk to donate, definitely give us a call. We’ll help you. We’ll talk you through the process,” Ubranski said.
UW Health says approved donors can typically access the new Odana Road milk depot Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you are interested in becoming a donor, you can learn more about requirements online.