News / Calgary

Calgary's first human milk bank open for business

Got milk?

That’s what the founders of a trail-blazing facility known as the Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank are asking after recently opening up for business in the city’s southwest.

Founded by registered nurse Jannette Festival and business partner Anne Marie O’Gorman, the bank is just one of two operating in Canada and likely the first open in the country in nearly four decades.

Festival said both donors and orders from hospitals are already pouring in, so to speak.

“We have been working on this for 17 months now,” she added. “It’s been a long road but very much worth it.”

Prior to donating, mothers with excess milk are screened and required to provide a blood sample free of charge.

After that, milk is submitted to the bank where it is pasteurized and combined with other donor samples to balance fat content. From there, the milk is heated to kill any bacteria and then chilled.

“We have a zero bacteria tolerance,” Festival said.

Once fully processed, the samples are sent on to hospitals to aid newborns born prematurely or with medical complications.

Some area residents were surprised to learn of the bank Wednesday but deemed it a worthy endeavour.

“I think the bank is a good idea for moms to support each other that way,” said expectant mother Trina Miles, adding she would consider donating in the future. “I don’t think it’s gross or anything. It’s weird and definitely different but sometimes there’s problems and people need help.”

Facility details

  • The Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank has already received support from 40 donors and had pasteurized 24 litres of donor milk as of Wednesday.
  • For more information, head to calgarymothersmilkbank.ca.

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