At-risk infants in Central Florida and across the country will have more access to human milk as Florida Hospital opens the first ever milk depot in Central Florida.
On Tuesday, Florida Hospital opened the first Milk Depot in Central Florida, a place for nursing mothers to donate their breast milk which will be given to sick and premature babies when their mothers can't produce.
"Human milk, breast milk, only has the antibodies that protect infants from illness, you cannot manufacture reproduce antibodies that protect babies from getting sick," said Stacie Gehring, the lactation consultant at Florida Hospital.
Bethany Bergen of Orlando says her daughter Piper was born ten weeks early.
She spent almost four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, and Bergen says the only thing she could do to help her baby was pump breast milk.
"It's cool to think that she went from less than two pounds and now she's 11 pounds, and that was pretty much all from breast milk," she said.
Bergen shared her story at the grand opening of the Milk Depot located at 2520 N. Orange Avenue.
Dr. Ariel Cole made the first donation, she says the Depot makes it more convenient for busy moms who want to donate.
"Many women who work pump anyway and have extra and end up throwing it away- but there's a real need and this is an opportunity to meet that need," she said.
Doctors hope the depot will help bridge the gap in what they call a critical shortage of donor human milk.
Once a mom brings her donation to the Milk Depot, Florida Hospital will store the milk and then package and ship it to the Mothers' Milk Bank in Denver for processing.