Mothers' Milk Bank To Celebrate Opening Of Elk Grove Outreach Center On Saturday

Nancy Harty
January 24, 2020 - 9:48 am
Breast Milk

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A suburban bank for donated breast milk is celebrating a new state law Saturday that makes it more accessible to families. 

Since the beginning of the year, health insurance companies must cover breast milk prescriptions for premature and other fragile newborns whose own mothers cannot provide it. 

The Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes will salute the law at the grand opening Saturday for its outreach center in Elk Grove.

Executive Director Summer Kelly said the space not only is to hold events and educate people about the bank, but to honor donors.

"About 15 percent of our milk donors donate after losing a child, and they donate in their child's honor," Kelly said. "And we have a beautiful 40-foot mural dedicated to those babies."

Kelly is a registered nurse, who used to work in a neonatal intensive care unit, where she said the milk can save lives.

"I have seen the dramatic impacts that this milk makes for preterm babies," she said.

"Their stomachs are under-developed and fragile. Some of them simply cannot tolerate formula and they get a very dangerous disease." 

An ounce of donated breast milk costs $4.50, or about $18 per bottle, she estimates. That makes it virtually impossible for families of premature babies with long-term health problems to afford without insurance.

Kelly said the non-profit pasteurizes donated breast milk and sends it to some 20 pediatric hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin.

In the four years since they opened, they have distributed 775,000 ounces.