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Hospital donor milk program can help premature babies fighting for their lives
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center now offers a donor milk program for premature infants in its neonatal intensive care unit in Gainesville and Braselton. The human milk fortifier aids in supplying premature, newborn infants with the required nutrients, particularly protein and calories.

Abby Burle has produced enough breast milk to feed her triplets, who were born prematurely May 15 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

But fortified donor milk has given daughter Maggie and sons Max and Miller the extra calories they’ve needed to gain weight.

“They’ve all tripled their weight,” Burle said.

Help is coming from a donor milk program sponsored by Northeast Georgia Health System for premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at its Gainesville and Braselton hospitals.

“The donor milk program is an easy and safe outlet for mothers to donate their unused breast milk to babies who need it most,” said Heather Standard, director of Women and Children’s Services at NGMC.

Through a partnership with California-based Prolacta Bioscience, “we are now providing the only available standardized donor milk that has a precise amount of calories and protein, enabling targeted nutrition to help ensure appropriate growth of our most fragile premature infants.”

The hospital’s website says that “if babies are less than 3 pounds, we strive to provide donor milk for those who may not be able to receive milk from their mother.”

And “mothers of premature babies often can’t produce the amount of milk needed. By donating your excess breast milk, you can provide life-sustaining benefits to the babies fighting for their lives.”

Potential donors must complete a medical and lifestyle history questionnaire, pass blood tests, get their doctor’s OK and provide a cheek swab to establish DNA profile.

According to NGMC, Prolacta will manage the qualification process of moms referred by the hospital, as well as setting up milk collection and the shipping process from the donor’s home.

“Prolacta’s high-tech manufacturing facility will be used to conduct the safety and quality testing before and after formulation and pasteurizing the standardized human milk products for in-hospital use,” an NGMC press release states.

“This program gives moms who have surplus breast milk a rewarding way to put their excess milk to good use,” adds Standard.

As for Abby and husband Ryan Burle’s babies, “they’re doing OK, but they’ve got a long road ahead of them,” Abby said.

The babies could spend up to 11 more weeks in the hospital, she added.

The ordeal also has taken a toll on the family.

“Every day is a new day,” Abby said. “I’m just trying to focus on the day at hand. That’s all I can do.”

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