After years of fundraising, the Northwest Mother's Milk Bank in Portland celebrated its grand opening in Portland Thursday.
The bank will become the first facility in the Northwest to process breast milk from donors which can be used to feed medically fragile babies.
There are only 11 milk banks in the entire country, according to organizers, and until Thursday the closest options for mothers to get donor milk was in San Jose, CA, or Denver.
Recipient mom Lauren Garrett turned to donor milk when her son was born six weeks premature.
Garrett was unable to produce milk herself but says she wanted her son to have all of the health benefits of breast milk.
"It just really shows the kindness and generosity of people doing this because they know it's important for families like mine who don't have the ability to support their own children," said Garrett.
Garrett is just one of thousands of moms in the Pacific Northwest who utilizes donor milk for their infants.
The brand new facility is inside of the Providence Health building on Barnes Road. Legacy Emanuel was also involved in the efforts to open the milk bank.
The milk bank works by screening donor moms to make sure their milk is safe and healthy. It then gets put in a freezer and eventually goes to a pasteurizer.
From there the milk goes once again to the freezer and shipping area and is then packaged up and sent locally to families in need.
The milk can also be shipped overnight via FedEx to mothers out of state.
"If you can do it, it's incredible, every drop counts," said donor mom Maggie Moormeier. "I think sometimes people think it's a lot of work, but every little bag you have extra, it's an easy way to give and get involved and make a big difference."
Organizers say you need a doctor prescription to receive donor milk.
The bank expects to begin processing donor breast milk this month.
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