FAQ

 

About NorthernStar

What does NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank do?


Our agency recruits and screens breastfeeding mothers. These donors drop off their excess milk, and we test, pasteurize and distribute it to sick and fragile babies in hospitals and in the community. Learn more about us.




Are there other Milk Banks in Canada?


There are two hospital-based HMBANA milk banks in Canada: B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC and Rogers Hixon Milk Bank in Toronto, ON. We are the only community-based, non-profit milk bank in Canada.




How does NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank sustain its operations as a community-based milk bank?


We operate on a cost-recovery basis with a dispensation fee applied to each bottle of pasteurized donor human milk. We rely on grants and the generous donations of community partners and the public to help keep the costs of milk to a minimum.





About Donor Human Milk

What is pasteurized donor human milk?


Pasteurized donor human milk is mothers’ excess breast milk which has been donated to the milk bank. The donor mothers have been screened for disease, the milk pasteurized and tested for bacteria and then is dispensed to babies-in-need.




Is pasteurized donor human milk safe?


Yes, pasteurized donor human milk is safe. Since the inception of our professional organization, HMBANA (Human Milk Banking Association of North America), there has never been a report of disease transmission or harm to a baby from properly pasteurized donor human milk from a milk bank. However, like any food, the risk of adverse events, even though very small, can never be stated as zero. From our recruitment and selection of donor mothers, to our state-of-the art lab, we’re committed to the highest safety standard in our field. Each bottle from every batch is traceable from donor to recipient. Additionally, we maintain records of all donors and recipients for 21 years. Donor and recipient records are kept and confidentiality is strictly maintained in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act of Alberta.




How is donor milk processed?


Frozen Donor Human Milk is thawed, pooled and poured into bottles. It is then pasteurized using the Holder method. The pasteurized donor human milk is quickly cooled and frozen at -20 C. Samples from individual donor moms’ deposits prior to pasteurization, and from each batch of milk after pasteurization are tested by an independent lab. The tests are done to detect heat resistant pathogens, and confirm zero growth of bacteria after the heating process. The pasteurization process strictly follows the guidelines set forth by HMBANA.




Why is donor human milk pasteurized?


Donor Human Milk is pasteurized to ensure a safe product for the babies who will receive it. The Holder method kills bacteria and inactivates many viruses that could be found in raw milk.




Does pasteurization harm the beneficial properties of human milk?


The majority of the nutritional and immunological properties are retained after Holder method pasteurization.




The majority of the nutritional and immunological properties are retained after Holder method pasteurization.


Pasteurized donor human milk is packaged in 120ml plastic bottles. Bottles are heat sealed and labelled with the expiration date and batch number.





Milk Donors

What does NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank do?


Our agency recruits and screens breastfeeding mothers. These donors drop off their excess milk, and we test, pasteurize and distribute it to sick and fragile babies in hospitals and in the community. Learn more about us.




Are there other Milk Banks in Canada?


There are two hospital-based HMBANA milk banks in Canada: B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC and Rogers Hixon Milk Bank in Toronto, ON. We are the only community-based, non-profit milk bank in Canada.




How does NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank sustain its operations as a community-based milk bank?


We operate on a cost-recovery basis with a dispensation fee applied to each bottle of pasteurized donor human milk. We rely on grants and the generous donations of community partners and the public to help keep the costs of milk to a minimum.





Recipients

How is pasteurized donor human milk dispensed?


The milk is dispensed by prescription only. Milk is triaged to neonatal intensive care units (NICU) first and is then available to the community when inventory allows.




Why isn’t the milk free?


While the milk is donated by our generous donor mothers, we do have operational costs that ensure every ounce of milk is safe to be received by a fragile infant. This dispensation fee covers the cost of:

  • wages for employees
  • shipping milk to the milk bank from milk drops or other locations
  • paying rent for our office and lab space
  • purchase and maintenance of lab equipment
  • bacterial testing
  • the bottle in which the milk is dispensed
  • milk collection containers provided to our donors
Volunteers and financial donors help us provide services at a greatly reduced rate to help keep the cost of the milk as low as possible.




How does a hospital order milk?


A hospital can call, fax or email NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank to place an order for milk.




How do parents and families order milk directly?


A prescription is required for donor human milk. Please contact us.





© 2020 NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank

AMUZE WEB DESIGN