01/28/2014 09:16 EST | Updated 03/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Calgary Breast Milk Bank So Successful, Milk's Going National

AFP via Getty Images
A doctor checks the quality of donated milk at the human milk bank in Lima, on January 31, 2013. Peru promotes a network of milk banks modelled on Brazil, leader in the sector, with the aim of reducing the mortality rate in premature infants, preventing disease and ensuring normal growing on newborns. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

Calgary's human milk bank has become so successful it’s now sending product to almost every neonatal intensive care unit in the province and to hospitals across the country.

Since it was created in 2012, the Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank has seen a 40 per cent increase in demand for its breast milk.

The not-for-profit organization takes in donated milk from breastfeeding mothers, screens and pasteurizes it and then distributes it for premature babies and others who need it.

The bank is now hiring more staff and needs to move to a bigger space.

Executive director Jeanette Festival says they're busy, but happy to know the bank is providing a needed service.

“Sometimes we just have moms and dads that come in and say, ‘we just love what you're doing and thank you.’ So it's a very good feeling,” she said.

Hospitals like being able to provide the milk, she said.

“They've seen an increase in the health of babies and they've seen great response, so I believe that has contributed to an increase in the use of donor human milk.”

The biggest challenge is getting enough donors to keep up with demand, Festival said.

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