Breast milk depot ready to take on Houston's hungry babies - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Breast milk depot ready to take on Houston's hungry babies

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A newly-opened facility in Houston is a one-of-a-kind place where you can help the littlest of lives.

Houston has a breast milk shortage.  Now, there is a place where women can go to solve that problem.

First-time mother Stacy Tanaka is still breastfeeding her 10-month-old baby girl, Savannah.  Stacy is considered an over-producer.

"I have excess milk.  At times, when I pump, she doesn't take it all, so I store it in the fridge and now it's overflowing," Tanaka said.

Just this week, the Houston Department of Health's Women Infants and Children program opened their very first breast milk depot.

"We just thought this would be a noble thing to do in our area and that it would serve a lot of babies that are premature or sick and that's how it began," WIC's breastfeeding coordinator Sara Garcia said.

Garcia said Texas' one and only milk bank in Austin can only fill 70 percent of Houston's donor requests.  WIC is trying to make up that 30 percent gap.

"They take it in.  Frozen milk is thawed out, pasteurized, tested twice to ensure that its bacteria and virus free and stored, dispensed out to different hospitals," Garcia said.

Unfortunately, not all mothers can breastfeed their babies, especially if they are born premature.

"When they deliver a baby this early on, sometimes they don't completely process.  They have more difficulties bringing in milk," Garcia said.

Women on certain medications and women addicted to drugs and alcohol may not be able nurse as well, so it is crucial they get human milk from other mothers like Garcia.

"Why not give it to a baby or family that needs it nutritionally as opposed to just throwing it away?  You just feel awful about it," she said.

If you are interested in donating, you can reach the Southwest Houston WIC Breast Milk Depot at 832-393-5427.  They are open six days a week and nursing mothers do have to be screened before they can donate.

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