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Overlake Medical Center opens 1st breast milk distribution site in Washington state

Overlake Medical Center is making it easier for moms in the Seattle area to get the milk they need for their baby’s health.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — When 9-month-old Nachi was born at Overlake Medical Center, he ended up in the NICU and was treated for jaundice.

Nachi was not able to breastfeed, and he rejected baby formula. His mother, Prashali Moodabettu, was worried he wouldn't be getting the critical nutrition he needed.

"At that time, my milk had not come in, and he did not know how to latch because we had not made progress on it," said Moodabettu.

Luckily, Nachi was to able receive donor breast milk through Northwest Mothers Milk Bank in Portland, Oregon.

"So, when there's that gap in what mom can supply and what baby needs, donor milk is used to protect that very fragile infant gut, especially in our very fragile hospitalized babies," said Sandy Salmon, director of Overlake's Women's and Infant's Services.

Now, getting donor milk is even easier. Overlake Medical Center has partnered with Northwest Mothers Milk Bank to open Washington state's first breast milk distribution site right on campus, which means moms can purchase milk if they have a prescription for a medical need after they are discharged and go home. 

Moms can also donate and drop off the milk right in Bellevue, which means the donor milk comes from local moms and is given to local moms. You don’t need to be a patient at Overlake to receive the donor breast milk. Being able to pick up the milk right in Bellevue means moms are able to get the milk faster.

"Having the milk distribution site here at Overlake makes the ease of getting milk so much better for our parents,” said Salmon. “Before they had to get all their milk shipped from Portland and there could be delays in gaps which caused a lot of panic, frustration, and anxiety, which is what we want to alleviate.”

The mother who is donating milk will undergo a screening process and blood tests similar to the screening process used at blood banks. The milk is tested and goes through a thorough pasteurization process to kill any bacteria or viruses. The milk is tested again before it is distributed to hospitals.

Moodabettu is now able to donate her breast milk and is about to make her second donation. She said it feels good to give back to other moms in the community.

"There are four steps and it takes about 30 days to go through all the little steps, but it's totally worth it," said Moodabettu.

Families who want to purchase donor milk should get a prescription from their medical provider, including the baby's name, date of birth, diagnosis code, and volume needed. Parents should call the Overlake Mom & Baby Care Center to make sure donor milk is available.