Local milk bank in need of donations as WakeMed sees dip in supply for premature babies

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thousands of premature babies and their families rely on the WakeMed Mothers' Milk Bank.

The hospital's nonprofit supports 44 NICUs across the Southeast and is one of 26 milk banks in the nation with specialized accreditation.

The nonprofit is in need of support now as donations drop.

Coordinator Montana Wagner-Gillespie says the bank is dipping into reserves to help premature babies since donations from moms are waning.

"I think a lot of people doing school from home, they're busy all the time. A lot of people are overwhelmed and it's maybe not something that's on the forefront of their minds, the Milk Bank, but it's definitely something that's still needed," said Wagner-Gillespie.

One in 10 babies is born prematurely in North Carolina each year, according to the latest data from the March of Dimes.

The rate is even higher for Black infants at more than 13 percent. Closely followed by Native-American babies at 12 percent.

The milk bank says it needs to screen more donors now in order to have supply for spring and summer infants who come into the world earlier than expected.

"This donator milk that we're providing can be life-saving for premature babies staying in the NICU," said Wagner-Gillespie. "Especially, now all the quarantine babies are now being born."

Folks interested in donating first need to start with a screening.

The center is making some adjustments during the pandemic. Staffers can ship coolers directly to someone's home in an effort to limit in-person contact.
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