Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose marks 35th anniversary

By Lisa Fernandez

BabyYou’re tired. Your baby is crying. And yeah. Your breasts are probably sore.

But that’s no reason, organizers say, not to join the 5K „Run/Walk/Stroll“ in Los Gatos on Mother’s Day, hosted by the oldest breast milk bank in the country.

„We thought it would be good for mothers to get out, and get their babies in strollers,“ said Mary Jane Vidovich of Los Gatos, who will be pushing 2-year-old Janie Marie at Vasona Park to get the word out about the benefits of breast milk for newborns.

Vidovich is a runner, the driving force behind the event, and a proud „10-gallon“ mom, who has donated just that much in breast milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank at Valley Medical Center in San Jose — the oldest and largest milk bank in the United States and the host of the event.

Though nursing mothers and pregnant women are the focus of this exercise-a-thon, everyone is invited to join, said Christie Dacanay, breast pump coordinator at the milk bank, which has been located in a rundown portable office on the campus of VMC since 1974.

It’s this 35th milestone anniversary that prompted board members to conceive of the Mother’s Day event, and grab some attention for their unusual service: Providing donated breast milk to sick and premature babies whose mothers who can’t provide it.

Often mother

s of premature babies can’t breastfeed, and these tiny infants are the ones who need this „liquid gold,“ with all its valuable nutrients the most, Dacany said. Other babies who typically use the service are adopted and have no other access to breast milk.

Dacany said in 35 years, the center has provided 2 million ounces of breast milk throughout the West Coast and Hawaii. Last month’s collection was record-breaking, she added, with 30,000 ounces sold (at $3 an ounce).

Proud of their achievements, the nine employees who work at the milk bank are tired of walking into a rundown portable trailer, which Dacanay said has electrical problems and freezers that aren’t up to date. That’s not to mention the termites and cockroaches that infest the workspace. They’re hoping that the Mother’s Day run will help garner support for more fund raising — and new office space — in the future.

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