Breast milk donation

Héma-Québec operates Québec’s only Public Mothers’ Milk Bank. This bank provides pasteurized human milk to infants who require medical care because they were born preterm at 32 weeks’ gestation or earlier and whose mother cannot breastfeed.

The majority of mothers who deliver prematurely have difficulty producing enough milk to feed their infant. In some cases, the mother’s ability to breastfeed is compromised by illness or medication.

Breast milk contains both antibodies that fight infection and growth hormones that encourage development in newborns: two components that are vital to extremely preterm infants.

  • Mothers who wish to donate breast milk must be:
    • In good health
    • Nursing and able to produce surplus milk
    • Non-smokers
  • In addition, to register for the Public Mothers' Milk Bank, you need have delivered your child at one of the following hospitals:
    • St. Mary's Hospital
    • CHU Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Center
    • Royal Victoria Hospital
    • Centre mère-enfant du CHUQ
    • Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé de Laval
    • LaSalle General Hospital
    • Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal
    • Lakeshore General Hospital

Mothers with the right profile may register by completing a questionnaire or by calling 1 800 565-6635 or 514 832-5000, ext. 5253.

A qualification process has been developed for mothers wishing to donate milk. This process is designed to ensure the safety of infants receiving the milk. It includes a blood test and a telephone interview during which the mother answers a health questionnaire.

Pre-screened nursing mothers collect and freeze their milk at home, then send it to Héma-Québec at regular intervals. Biochemical tests are conducted on the milk received in order to determine its nutritional value. The milk is then pasteurized in order to eliminate viruses and bacteria. Milk supplies undergo microbiological testing after pasteurization and are then stored in a freezer. It is distributed to hospitals as part of the treatment of extremely preterm infants.

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