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New Milk Depot opens at Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital will on Monday unveil a new space aimed at improving access to safe milk for infants across Indiana. 

The Milk Depot is a partnership between The Milk Bank and Ascension St. Vincent.

Women with extra breast milk can go through a screening process with The Milk Bank and then easily drop off donations at the new Milk Depot, located at the women’s hospital on Township Line Road. 

As a Milk Depot, Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital becomes a convenient donation site for The Milk Bank’s approved donors to bring frozen breast milk donations.

Hospital staff will safely collect and store donated milk before sending it to The Milk Bank for pasteurization, analysis, and bottling. The Milk Bank then dispenses the donor milk to a hospital or qualified outpatient facility.

The Milk Bank says that for premature babies and sick infants, human milk is lifesaving medicine. Hospitals rely on milk banks to provide pasteurized donor milk for fragile babies when a parent can’t produce it themselves.

Doctors say feeding preterm babies a 100% human milk diet reduces death rates by 75%. Every donated ounce counts because 1 ounce can be equal to three feedings for a baby in the NICU.

“It opens up that opportunity for everyone who has this supply to donate,” Dr. Melissa Leedy, neonatologist and co-director of Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit, said.

“Donor breastmilk is something we talk about on a daily basis in our unit, and with having a 96-bed unit, we are using a lot of donor breastmilk. It is something that, if the women of the state of Indiana and across the country aren’t providing for us, we are not going to be able to provide for our babies. So we really depend on those donations,” Leedy said. 

Dr. Leedy is also a mom and a two-time donor to The Milk Bank.

In 2011 when she had her son she was living in Tennessee, had a big supply of breastmilk and there was nowhere to donate. She ended up having to ship her breast milk on dry ice to Indiana.

When she had her daughter she was living here and it made donating easier. She says having more options to drop off milk, makes a difference.

“I have lived both worlds. I have been a donor and have been able to ship it from afar but also enjoy what we are going to be able to provide to our local community — near that 86th Street campus — which is moms have the ability to drop off that milk after they have gone through the donation process and have been accepted in the program,” Leedy said.

The Milk Depot at Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital will be open 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on weekdays. Anyone interested in becoming a donor can start the process online or by calling The Milk Bank at 317-536-1670.

The Milk Depot will move in 2024 with the Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital as it transitions to the Women and Children’s Tower, which is currently under construction.

For information on more breast milk donation drop-off locations, visit The Milk Bank website.