It's the first of its kind in the Jacksonville area and it can save the life of a newborn anywhere in the country.
Orange Park Medical Center is now part of a nationwide Colorado-based non-profit human milk donation network called the Mothers’ Milk Bank.
Lactation consultant Donna Mason said mothers who want to donate excess breast milk can do so through OPMC and it'll then be shipped off to anywhere in the country where there's a need.
"One ounce of donated mother's milk can feed a premature baby for an entire day, perhaps saving that baby's life," Mason added.
Any donations will be sent to the MMB facility Colorado for testing and processing -- including pasteurization -- before it's sent to its final destination, meaning that at least some of the local donations could end up benefiting local babies.
While it's usually best for a baby to get milk from its own mother, Mason said that's not always possible, especially for babies in neonatal intensive care units.
"Milk production is a process and sometimes it doesn’t happen right away," Mason noted. "That is where the donor milk will come into play. They have such a weakened immune system that it becomes lifesaving."
Suzanne Jones -- the Director of Women’s & Children’s Services at OPMC -- said the demand is so heavy for breast milk that it's used almost as quickly as it comes in.
"In a little more than a decade, we’ve seen the number of moms breastfeeding jump from 50 percent to 80 percent," Jones added. "A large part of that has to do with moms becoming better educated on the countless benefits."
Women interested in donating can call 904-639-3515 to make an appointment.
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