Montreal

Héma-Québec needs 200 new mothers to donate breast milk

Héma-Québec's milk bank, which was launched in April 2014 and is the only one in Quebec, is used to give milk to babies born prematurely.

New mothers in Greater Montreal, Quebec City areas can donate as long as baby is less than a year old

Most mothers who deliver prematurely have difficulty producing breast milk or their ability to do so is compromised because of illness or medication (iStock)

Héma-Québec says it has no shortage of blood donations this year but it is running low on breast milk.

The agency is reaching out to new mothers in the hopes of getting more donors for its breast milk bank.

The milk bank, which was launched in April 2014 and is the only one in Quebec, is used to give milk to babies born prematurely.

"We basically need 200 more mothers," spokesman Laurent-Paul Ménard told CBC Montreal.

Héma-Québec launched a similar call for more breast milk just two months ago, stating that demand was on the rise.

Ménard said any mother living in the Great Montreal and Greater Quebec City areas can register for the program as long as their child is less than a year old.

Most mothers who give birth prematurely have difficulty producing their own milk or their ability to do so is compromised because of illness or medication, according to Héma-Québec's website.

Preterm babies who are given breast milk from a bank are three times less likely to contract serious  – and sometimes fatal – intestinal diseases, the website adds.

Unlike blood donation, mothers who donate their breast milk do so from home.

"We basically go to the mother's place to gather all the information, do the blood run and also send all the material to the mother's home to make this donation as easy as possible," Ménard said.

Though it has an adequate supply of blood at the moment, Héma-Québec is still encouraging people to attend upcoming blood drives in order to maintain its supply at an optimal level.

Mothers who would like to donate their breast milk can visit the public mother's milk bank section of the Héma-Québec website.

With files from CBC's Sarah Leavitt

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