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Group Sets Up Breast Milk Bank to Help Other New Moms

<font size=2>A first of its kind "bank" in the Pacific Northwest is now up and running. </font>But it doesn't store money or even blood. This bank collects, stores and dispenses human breast milk.
(PORTLAND, Oregon) A first of its kind "bank" in the Pacific Northwest is now up and running.

But it doesn't store money or even blood. This bank collects, stores and dispenses human breast milk.

It all started five years ago, when a group of breast-feeding educators saw a need in the Portland area. And with a lot of fundraising, work and determination, their vision is now a reality.

When her daughter Grace was born, Janet Brashear - like many moms - had hoped breast-feed her. But there was a problem.

"My milk did not come in until about two weeks after I delivered her," said Brashear.

But thanks to the generosity of others, Grace was still able to benefit from mothers' milk, just not her own mother's.

"She had donor milk for the first weeks of her life." added Brashear.

Many health experts agree, the benefits of breast milk for newborns, especially premature infants, are immense.

"It's donor milk, but it's life-saving medicine for them," said June Winfield, Northwest Mothers Milk Bank.

In the Pacific Northwest, an area with the highest rates of breast-feeding in the nation, families have had to depend on out of state milk banks to get donor milk.

But not any more. Welcome to the "Northwest Mothers Milk Bank."

"This is the freezer where we stored our pasteurized milk," explained Joanne Ransom, Northwest Mothers Milk Bank.

Mothers can now come to the southwest Portland office to donate their extra breast milk.

That milk will then be screened, pasteurized and distributed to area hospitals for premature and sick babies - whose mothers do not have sufficient milk.

The non-profit organization says already demand for the mothers milk is higher than it's supply.

"We do have hospital calling us and parents who are in need of milk," added Ransom.

Although the milk will go to area neo-natal units first, the remainder will be available for families to buy to help those like Janet's give their newborns the start in life they deserve.

The sterilized milk costs $4.50 an ounce to buy.

The organization says that only partially covers the cost of treating it. It says there are charitable groups that will help families cover the cost if needed.

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