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WakeMed Offers Breast Milk Bank For New Moms

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A program at


is providing a special product for new mothers -- breast milk.

Kelley Greeson dreams of taking her twin sons home. Born nine weeks early, Chase and Kurt are in WakeMed's neonatal intensive care unit. Greeson had hoped to breast feed them, but since they were born so early, she could not.

"I wanted to go with breast milk because it's better for the babies," she said.

Pam Maher knew what Greenson was going through. Her daughter, Avery, also came early. Until she was strong enough to nurse, Maher pumped to maintain her milk supply. It worked so well Pam had more milk than Avery could even need.

"I pumped around the clock. I worked hard for that milk, so pouring it down the drain wasn't really something I wanted to do," Maher said.

Maher heard about WakeMed's breast milk bank, which takes in donor milk and gives it to babies who need it.

Frozen milk arrives from all over the country. Nurses pool the milk and pasteurize it. It is bottled and sent to the neonatal intensive care unit, other hospitals or homes where its needed. Most donors are like Pam, who donate extra milk.

"Sometimes, unfortunately it's at a time when a mother has lost her baby and wants her milk to be used for another baby's benefit," Maher said.

Greeson said her sons are healthier because of the donor milk. Now that she is able to breastfeed them, she hopes one day to make a milk deposit of her own.

"I'd like to be able to give back what other people have given to me," she said.

One ounce of milk costs $3. Some insurance companies cover it. WakeMed officials said the hospital absorbs much of the cost. Donors must get a physical exam and have blood work done. They also cannot drink, smoke or take certain medicines.