Information for Recipients

As the only community-based milk bank in Canada, we are advocates for sick and fragile babies. Research shows donor human milk provides the healthiest option to newborns and premature babies who spend time in the NICU. Many sick and fragile babies depend on donor human milk for its life-saving health benefits.

Donor human milk:

  • Lowers the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) - the most fatal gastrointestinal emergency in the NICU
  • Decreases the risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) - a potentially blinding eye disease that is primarily seen in premature babies
  • Lowers infection rates by transferring antibodies to fight disease
  • Decreases length of stay in the NICU
  • Decreases incidence of feeding intolerance and diarrhea

For women who cannot nurse as a result of a low milk supply, necessary medication usage, illness, adoption or surrogacy, we make it possible for all at-risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies to receive human milk.

Who are milk recipients?

Our recipients are predominantly hospitalized babies that:

  • Were born premature
  • Have gastrointestinal and digestive issues
  • Require donor human milk as part of post-operative care
  • Have been diagnosed with a chronic illness or compromised immune system
  • Are a twin or multiple
  • Do not have access to mother’s own milk (adoption, surrogacy, mastectomy, breast reduction, illness)
  • Do not have safe access to mother’s milk (mother has infectious disease, illness, undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments)

Accessing Donor Human Milk

To ensure our milk goes to those with the greatest need, donor human milk is available by prescription only. Physicians, midwives and nurse practitioners can provide this prescription. Prescriptions must include:

  • Diagnosis
  • Baby’s name and date of birth
  • Volume required

Hospitals can call, email or fax orders for pasteurized donor human milk.

Cost and Coverage

There is a dispensing fee associated with accessing donor human milk. This fee covers the cost of screening, pasteurization and third-party testing of the milk. As pasteurized donor human milk is classified as a food and not a drug, many insurance providers do not cover the cost as part of a prescription drug plan.