SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Brooke Fong began storing her extra breast milk shortly after her baby boy was born.
"My son wasn't taking to the bottle and thankfully we have a lot of breast milk and didn't want it to go to waste," said Brooke Fong.
In just a few months, she had enough to feed dozens of premature babies in the NIC-U who desperately need it to develop their immune systems.
"If there's a chance that a baby can get natural breast milk, I'm happy to provide," she said.
She packed her liquid gold into a labeled cooler and set it out on her front porch for FedEx.
"It very clearly says "Human Milk—perishable," she said.
But instead of going to The Mother's Milk Bank of San Jose, where it would have been screened, pasteurized and delivered to hospitals, 200 ounces of breast milk ended up in the hands of a thief.
"I figured if it said human milk, I thought someone wouldn't take it, because they might just be like, "Well that's weird." But there may have been an opportunity," she said.
Medical experts say that opportunity is a lucrative online market for buyers of breast milk. From body-builders who see it as a superfood to new mothers who experience problems producing their own milk.
But the risks of buying online are real.
"There's risks of contamination of infection, and possibly not even being all human milk," said Cheryl Burstiner, a lactation nurse at Sutter Health in Sacramento.
It's been recognized as a "baby-friendly hospital" which encourages practices that help new mothers have more success breastfeeding.
Now the hospital is preparing to host a breast milk drive, to help replace the stolen milk.
"There's a continual need for replenishment, such as when we need donations for blood," said Burstiner.
Brooke hopes the milk pours in, and she's already started working on pumping a new supply.
"Next time I'll drop it off at a FedEx location."
Local Breast Milk Drive
Dec. 4-7 9 a.m.-3 p.m.:
- December 4-Roseville Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
- December 5-Sacramento Sutter Medical Center
- December 6-Folsom Mercy Hospital of Folsom
- December 7-Davis Sutter Davis Hospital
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