Mercy Milk Depot Opens in Dubuque
By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter
Dubuque - In the spirit of giving this Thanksgiving, Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque is kicking off a program to help the most vulnerable.
Mercy's Milk Depot helps new mothers donate their breast milk to pre-mature babies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Jessica Hermsen says her breast milk is a gift she's received, and it's a gift she chooses to share.
Hermsen said, "I have extra and I have two beautiful children who have been healthy and have done very well, it's kind of my gift to pass on."
She and several of these women pump their breast milk, and then donate it to other families who need it.
Heather Schuster said, "Even after I pump, if he gets hungry a half hour after I pump to donate there will still be milk there for him."
Health experts say, while it may seem strange for some people, using another mother's breast milk is both natural and healthy.
Nurse Jayne Schuster said, "Human milk is friendlier to the gut. Where formula is very corrosive to the gut. So we can feed babies earlier it's less stressful to the baby."
Sometimes, when a baby like is born pre-maturely, the mother can't make the milk as fast as the baby needs it. That's where the donors come in.
Jayne Schuster said, "Donating the milk for babies is probably the greatest gift in terms of health, long term benefits that formula just doesn't offer."
Schuster says breast milk helps protect babies from heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
But for these mothers who donate, there is a benefit to simply knowing they helped better a small stranger's life.
Staff from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics say any baby can receive the donated breast milk.
It's not just for preemies.
The University hopes to soon make breast milk available to all babies in Iowa.
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