Premature infants frequently face long odds. Because they’ve had less time to develop in the womb they often have complicated medical problems and can struggle to grow and thrive. In those cases, human milk can serve as a critical source of nutrition.
Over the last 30 years, Denver, Colorado–based Mothers’ Milk Bank has operated as a true life-saver for premature babies around the U.S. Since 1984, it has provided more than 3.5 million ounces of milk to 120 hospitals around the country. The non-profit program, which collects donations from women who produce more milk than their babies need, relies on a network of thousands of donors around the U.S. “We’re similar to a blood bank,” says Laraine Lockhart Borman, director of outreach for Mothers’ Milk Bank. “In fact, our screening is even more rigorous than it is for blood donors.”
While collecting and donating sufficient supplies of acceptable milk are key challenges, they’re not the only ones the organization faces. Another lies in the perishable nature of milk. After processing, the milk is measured into jars and frozen until delivery. Given that, it needs to be moved efficiently, reliably and under strict environmentally controlled conditions. And those requirements apply whether you’re delivering it to a hospital across town or hundreds of miles away. In fact, moving frozen milk through a congested city can present unique logistical hurdles that can rival long-distance deliveries.
For years, Mothers’ Milk Bank relied on local couriers to make deliveries. The problem: Delivery wasn’t always reliable. That changed when it began using FedEx SameDay® City, which offers local pickup and delivery in as little as two hours. The service also provides real-time tracking — a hospital can call to find out when a delivery is arriving, and Mothers’ Milk Bank can check the status online and provide an answer. “FedEx SameDay City understands our requirements for reliability, speed and care,” says Candace Ellman, production manager for Mothers’ Milk Bank. “They know the value of what we’re doing, and that this milk is going to a hospital or family that desperately needs it, and that timing is critical.”
Together, the two services are addressing a serious problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 450,000 babies — one out of every 9 U.S. infants — are born premature each year. And preterm-related issues are one of the top five causes of infant death. While rapid milk deliveries can’t solve the issue on their own, they offer babies a chance for survival, along with much-needed hope for their families.
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