FLOWOOD, Miss. (WJTV) – When it comes to causes, you won’t find one more noble than saving the lives of sick or premature babies. The Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi does just that, every day. Its Flowood facility stocks 11 NICU’s throughout our state.

The Mothers Milk Bank of Mississippi is our first Honoree as 12 News is “Focused on Those Who Serve”.

It’s something mothers have known for millennia, but science occasionally forgot. Milk is the elixir of life. Nothing is better for a newborn.

Dr. Rebecca Saenz is the Medical Director at the Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi.

She says, “Premature babies are prone to something called Necrotizing Enterocolitis. The English for that is gangrene of the intestines, and some of these babies end up with colostomies. If a baby gets human milk as opposed to formula, they are 20 times less likely to get that.”

But sometimes, new moms can’t breastfeed. They could be on medication or fighting for their own lives. That’s where Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi comes in. Mothers with extra milk can bring it here, after a careful screening process, of course.

Anna Higginbottom is the Deputy Executive Director.

She frames it like this, “It’s helping save lives in much the same way as giving blood. However, we do pasteurize the milk, and we make sure there is no bacteria content in the milk when it’s dispensed out to the NICU babies.”

Since 2014, milk has been pasteurized on-site in Flowood. That saves time and probably saves lives. in pristine lab conditions the milk is thawed, cleaned, strained, and mixed.

Lab Supervisor Francis De Larosa explains, “Each batch is about 50 bottles. After that, we put them in the pasteurizer for 30 minutes at 62.5 degrees Celsius.”

I asked, “That’s hot?”

Francis responded, “Very hot.”

I asked, “And then you have to cool them down?”

Francis answered, “We cool them down right away, as soon as they get off. We do put them in an ice bath until they get down to 4 degrees Celsius.”

Up to 800 ounces can be processed here each day.

Francis adds, “We courier the milk ourselves to our local hospitals, so when we go, we have a chance to see the babies we are helping.”

It’s also a very rewarding process for mom’s who donate and their families.

Christe McBride is a licensed practical nurse. She is also the Donor Program Coordinator.

“They love being a part of saving lives. Even the babies that understand that their mom is donating, they come in and take pictures. Everyone is really excited to be able to help, ” McBride said.

And they are helping, especially in a state like ours, with a high rate of premature births.

“Anytime a human gets human milk they are going to have the best chance at good health for their whole life,” Dr. Saenz said.

There are Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi drop off locations throughout the state, including: Vicksburg, Hattiesburg, Gulf Port, and Meridian. If you’d like to donate or find out more, log on to http://www.msmilkbank.org/

Next month, WJTV and WHLT will be honoring first responders. If you have a nominee click here.