Medical center opens donor milk depot 

BANGOR — Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is opening a donor milk depot in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. The new depot, the first in the Bangor area, planned to receive milk donations beginning June 6 thanks to funding for a freezer to store the breast milk by Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ program. 

A donor human milk depot is a community location where donors who have completed the screening process can drop off milk for shipment to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. Currently, there are six milk depots in Maine, from Portland to Belfast. The newly added seventh depot is located in the Northern Light Family Medicine and Residency practice at 895 Union St. in Bangor.  

“The presence of a milk depot signifies a deep commitment to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of the community – the fragile babies whose lives depend on safe, pasteurized donor milk,” explains Dr. Duska Thurston of Northern Light Family Medicine. “We are delighted to partner with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast to serve the community in this way.” 

A milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more milk than their babies need. Their staff screens donors, then pasteurizes and tests the milk. After those steps, they dispense it to babies who need additional milk. Milk banks across the country are experiencing steep increases in demand due the baby formula shortage the nation is facing. Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast saw an increase in demand of 20 percent from 2020 to 2021. 

“We exist to help babies thrive and are dedicated to stewarding safe, compassionate connections between families who have an abundance of milk and those with need,” said Deborah Youngblood, executive director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. “We are working hard to grow as demand increases and this partnership with Northern Light is a wonderful way for us to continue to serve the Maine community.”  

Donor milk depots increase the supply of milk by raising awareness about the need for milk donors within the local community. 

Donor milk has become the standard supplement to mothers’ milk for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units. An increasing number of hospitals will use donor milk in special care nurseries and well-baby units when babies need a supplement to their mothers’ own milk. Outpatients can also receive donor milk by prescription. 

Families and health care providers seeking more information on receiving or donating milk can check the milk bank’s website at or call (617) 527-6263, ext. 3. 


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