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St. Luke's breast milk bank helps NICU babies and Treasure Valley moms

The Milk Bank Depot at St. Luke's provides a midpoint between the person donating milk and the Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank.

BOISE, Idaho — Kristina Peyton and Ricky Steele are parents to newborn twin girls Kaia and Mckenna, but they've spent the last two weeks at St. Luke’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after the twins were born at 34 weeks and three days.

For most parents, having a baby in the NICU is hard enough, but thanks to breast milk donors, Kristina and Ricky are able focus on their daughters' health rather than how much milk they need.

“So I pump and I bring in what I can and then any amount that I don’t make the nurses here just take care of it and they bring in the milk for the girls and make sure they have everything they need,” Peyton said. “We're really thankful for the milk donation."

RELATED: Woman donates breast milk to NICU babies after losing her own son

The Milk Bank Depot at St. Luke's provides a midpoint between the person donating milk and the Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank. 

“There can be many, many reasons why a mother is in a position to donate milk but it's lifesaving to the little ones who are here,” said St. Luke's nurse Joan Hecker. “It can be sometimes even mothers who are surrogates and have milk later, there's even situations where sadly there's been a loss of an infant and the mother has milk and donates it.” 

The hospital’s registered dietitian and neonatal nutritionist, Marie Dabney, says breast milk is the standard of care for feeding infants at any age and stage and that milk is critical to helping babies born with health problems. 

“Pre-term infants benefit more so because their immune system is underdeveloped, their GI tract is underdeveloped so when we feed them breast milk they're obtaining bioactive nutrients such as enzymes that help with digestion,” Dabney said.

Kristina and Ricky know firsthand what that’s like and are grateful for the donor milk.

“Nothing matters more to anybody than they're kids so just the fact that there's people out there willing to help in such a selfless way making sure that our girls get the best that they need, the nutrients and not only what is best for them, but it's a lot of stress off mom as well and us so it's been really amazing,” Steele said.

Anyone who would like to donate can contact St. Luke's here.

RELATED: Mom donates 131 gallons of breast milk

RELATED: Does breast milk have to come directly from the breast?

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