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Local Breast Milk Bank Growing To Keep Up With Demand

Matt Rourke
Rachel Palencik poses for a photograph with her frozen breast milk Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in West Chester, Pa. About 4,000 mothers participate in 15 nonprofit milk banks across the United States.

More mothers are turning to milk banks for pasteurized donor human breast milk to give to needy infants. The organizations collect, test and treat the milk that is later provided to babies who wouldn't otherwise receive its benefits. 

Here in the Pittsburgh region, the Mid-Atlantic Mothers Milk Bank is pushing state lawmakers to better regulate the industry. The Confluence's Megan Harris is joined by a panel of experts, including:

Credit Courtesy of The Mid-Atlantic Mother's Milk Bank
Courtesy of The Mid-Atlantic Mother's Milk Bank
Denise O’Connor, Founder and executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank.

  •  Denise O’Connor, founder and executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank;
  • Debra L. Bogen, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and milk bank volunteer medical director; and
  • Jennifer Kloesz, professor of pediatrics at Pitt, milk bank board member, neonatologist and the medical director in the NICU at Magee-Women’s Hospital.

A growing number of women are taking advantage of the resource and more pediatricians are prescribing breast milk to babies. The regional bank sends the product they provide through a rigourous process for donors, as well as a pasteurization process for the breast milk to ensure it's safe for babies. 
That process, according to O'Connor, is not guaranteed to women who seek out breast milk through informal online marketplaces, something she warns mothers against. Abill being considered in the state house would require the Pennsylvania Department of Health to license donor milk banks in compliance with the bill's regulations. 

Credit Courtesy of Wali Jamal
Courtesy of Wali Jamal
Actor Wali Jamal is performing August Wilson’s final play—the autobiographical "How I Learned What I Learned," as part of the AWCommunity Day celebration at the August Wilson Center.

Later in the program:

The August Wilson Center is hosting a free, family-friendly event featuring local vendors, artisans, performers and community building at August Wilson Cultural Center downtown. The celebration includes a performance by actor Wali Jamal of Wilson’s final play, an autobiographical work entitled, “How I Learned What I Learned.” Jamal joined The Confluence’s Megan Harris to discuss his unique experience performing all 10 plays in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, plus Wilson's autobiographical, one-man show. Jamal, who grew up in the Hill District, says his fondness for Wilson’s writing has only grown through acting in the Pulitzer Prize winner's plays. “You can’t approach this trying to do an impression or an imitation of August Wilson," Jamal says. "You’ve got to tell the stories, and that in itself will give you the personification of August without trying to look exactly like August or talk exactly like August.”

Toi Derricotte, one of Pittsburgh’s most revered poets, released her latest book “‘i’: New and Selected Poems,” this month. 90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll reports from Derricotte’s book launch at Alphabet City on Pittsburgh's North Side.

Across Pennsylvania, 28% of utility companies' workforce is expected to retire in the next five years. For StateImpact Pennsylvania, 90.5 WESA's Amy Sisk looks at how Duquesne Light is combating this issue with their “New Student Boot Camp,” preparing young people for a career in the trades.

And careful listeners of The Confluence may have noticed its usual host, Kevin Gavin, has been absent the last few Fridays. While many Pittsburghers have made plans to attend Friday fish fry dinners, some are working behind the scenes to help raise money for their church, fire hall or community center. Confluence producers Megan Harris and Kiley Koscinski take listeners behind the scenes of the Saint Catherine of Sweden fish fry in Hampton Township, where a familiar face has been manning the fryers.

90.5 WESA's Alex Lenigan, Julia Zenkevich and Meg Fair contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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