Elizabeth Thacker loves feeding her baby Kynadee, a preemie in Piedmont Fayette's neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. But, the breast milk in Kennedy's bottle didn't come from Elizabeth. It was donated, anonymously, by another new mother. Which, for Elizabeth, took a little getting used to. She says, "At the end of the day, it's what's best for her. I had to do what's best for her. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."
Piedmont Healthcare's feeds babies in its three NICUs 100% human milk, as part of its newborn nutrition program. Some of the milk comes from the newborns' mothers , some from Piedmont's Donor Milk Program. Piedmont Fayette neonatologist Dr. Rod Robinson says the human breast milk -- full of protective antibodies designed to help the babies immune system fight off germs -- is critical for babies born too soon.
Dr. Robinson says, "That's where the baby gets a lot of their nutrients. Protein, minerals, vitamins. We even use human milk fortifiers."
During her pregnancy, Elizabeth, whose been taking medication to lower her blood pressure for 15 years, was diagnosed with a heart problem. When Elizabeth's blood pressure spiked, doctors had to deliver Kynadee seven weeks early by emergency c-section. She weighed a little over three pounds and needed help catching up. would need help catching up. But because of Elizabeth's medication and health issues, doctors advised her not to breastfeed. Elizabeth says, "There was a little sense of disappointment and heartbreak, because I wasn't going to be the one to be able to do it."
But Elizabeth says she's grateful for the new mothers willing to share their breast milk. And Dr. Robinson says, "Our experience has been that parents have been really receptive to it."
The milk is donated by nursing mothers with surplus breast milk. The bioscience company Prolacta collects the milk, screens it for safety, pasteurizes it, and then sells it to hospitals. Dr. Robinson says the donor milk is an important part of their newborn nutrition program. He says, "Mainly, it's because you're able to standardize. You can give the baby the precise amount of calories, the exact amount of protein."
Breast milk donors don't get paid, but they do pay it forward. Giving preemies like Kynadee the chance to grow stronger.
To learn more about Piedmont Healthcare's Donor Milk Program, visit http://www.piedmont.prolacta.com