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Milk from nursing mothers in Ohio and around the country is on its way to nourish sick babies in earthquake-ravished Haiti.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Ohio answered the call from a Navy doctor treating ailing infants on the USNS Comfort, a floating hospital docked off the Haitian coast.

The doctor requested the milk because it can help save lives, says Georgia Morrow, coordinator of the milk bank operated by Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

“We would not go through all of this if we did not believe this will allow the babies the best opportunity for survival,” Morrow tells ParentDish.

Breast milk contains antibodies that will help the babies fight infections,a common problem children face after a disaster, she explains. Breast milk also is safer option because, unlike some types of formula, it does not have to be mixed with water, she says. Clean drinking water is in short supply in Haiti.

The 500 ounces of frozen milk, which were donated by mothers from 12 states, will be transported by plane and helicopter to the ship. Morrow says she’s not sure how long the milk will last, but says her organization will work with the other nine North American milk banks to keep the floating hospital stocked. Babies consume a teaspoon to a few ounces per feeding depending on their size, she says.

The banks typically provide breast milk, which can be frozen for up to a year, to babies in neonatal units in U.S. hospitals.

Ohio mom Tria Shadeed, who regularly donated milk to the bank until last month, told The Columbus Dispatch she hopes her milk was included in the shipment.

“I would be very proud to know that my milk would be used to help orphaned infants or infants who are hospitalized,” she tells the newspaper.

For information about donating milk, visit hmbana.org.

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