POSTED: Friday, July 12, 2013 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 3:23pm
PORTLAND (CNN) — 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.
"My milk did not come in until about two weeks after I delivered her."
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.
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.
Welcome to the "Northwest Mothers Milk Bank." Mothers can now go 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 the demand for the mothers milk is higher than its supply. 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 there are charitable groups that will help families cover the cost if needed.