MCHENRY, Ill., Aug. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Instead of planning a traditional birthday party to celebrate her son's first birthday, Stephanie Wujick, a mother from Oldsmar, Fla., opted to rally friends and family to raise funds for a hospital-grade breastpump to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Central in St. Petersburg, Fla. This gift has special meaning to Stephanie, who stayed at the House while her now one-year-old son was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the All Children's Hospital, to which the House is attached. Stephanie was one of four mothers sharing one pump to provide milk for their infants in the NICU.
"I was so grateful for the pump," said Stephanie. "But tracking down the breastpump at three in the morning while you're exhausted and stressed out was not fun." She resolved to help other moms provide breastmilk for their infants in the NICU by making sure that the moms had access to an additional pump. In honor of her healthy and thriving son's first birthday, Stephanie raised enough money to provide a Symphony® Preemie+™ Breastpump, as well as a trolley for transporting the pump around the House. When Stephanie first approached Medela about purchasing a pump for her to donate, the company was inspired by her generosity and commitment to helping moms and infants in the NICU – which mirrors Medela's own destiny statement to enhance baby health through the life-giving benefits of breastmilk. After meeting with the House director and learning of the great need for breastpumps, Medela "matched" her gift by donating an additional Symphony® Breastpump to the House.
Every year, more than 450,000 infants are born prematurely and require NICU support. Research has demonstrated that for most infants – particularly premature infants – human milk is easier to digest than formula and helps vulnerable stomachs to mature. Because their immune systems are immature, premature infants also face a greater risk of infection, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal disease associated with a high mortality rate in the NICU. Human milk contains hormones, antibodies and other protective factors that help infants fight infection and become stronger. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls on hospitals and physicians to recommend human milk for premature and other high-risk infants.
"Breastmilk is medicine for premature infants. Yet many preemies are unable to feed directly from their mothers," said Carolin Archibald, president of Medela. "We are delighted to be a part of this special gift and hope that donating an additional Symphony® Breastpump to the Ronald McDonald House will make it easier for moms to provide the life-giving benefits of breastmilk to their babies."
"We're always seeking ways to support families who are caring for hospitalized children," said RMHC CEO Janice Davis. "Having breastpumps available at the House for moms of NICU babies, and other new mothers whose infants are hospitalized, is an important, meaningful service we can offer."
Medela has a strong presence in the NICU. In addition to the Symphony® Preemie+™, Medela has a wide range of research-based feeding products that deliver the important nutrient value of human milk to infants who are unable to breastfeed. With its recent acquisition of the enteral feeding assets of Acacia, Medela now offers solutions for NICU infants who are unable to feed orally.
The Medela family company, headquartered in the Canton of Zug, Switzerland, was founded by Olle Larsson in 1961. Medela concentrates on two business units: "Breastfeeding," with fundamental research that is recognized globally and leading in the development and manufacture of breastfeeding products, and "Healthcare," engineering and manufacturing highly innovative medical vacuum technology solutions. Medela has 18 subsidiaries in Europe, North America and Asia, distributes its products in over 90 countries, and employs 1,500 staff worldwide.
About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay
Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. Its programs are grassroots-driven to enable the Charity to offer help where children need it most — right in their own communities.
The Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay, with four Houses is a not-for-profit organization now in its 34th year of providing a safe and affordable "home-away-from-home" for families with children receiving medical treatment in bay area hospitals. These four Houses have provided comfort and care to more than 46,000 families since opening in 1980. It is the cornerstone program of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay. For more information visit www.rmhctampabay.com.
 March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card. http://www.marchofdimes.com/mission/prematurity-reportcard.aspx. Accessed July 30, 2014.
 American Academy of Pediatrics. Executive Summary: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. https://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/pdf/Breastfeeding2012ExecSum.pdf. Published 2012. Accessed July 30, 2014.