Requests for donated breast milk have reached all time highs. The Milk Bank in Indianapolis opened a new facility Friday to help meet that need.
The nonprofit provides donated, pasteurized breast milk to babies in the NICU and babies with medical needs who benefit from human milk.
Freedom Kolb, executive director of The Milk Bank, said the organization's old facility was almost too small for all of the equipment needed to fulfill donor requests.
“We would have to say no to a hospital or baby in need just because we didn't have room for the equipment to process the milk,” Kolb said.
The new building allows The Milk Bank to double the space of its processing milk lab.
“So thanks to this facility, we are able to install a generator to protect the regional tissue supply for all of our infants,” Kolb said.
The non-profit saw a surge in requests during the pandemic. The Milk Bank also helped over 100 families seeking breast milk amid the infant formula shortage.
“In the NICU, we actually think about donor milk as a medication, because particularly in babies who are born extremely premature and at risk for something called necrotizing enterocolitis, having donor milk can make a difference between life and death,” said Dr. Ekanem Akinola, a neonatologist at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and Medical Director of The Milk Bank.