Nutrition for the Smallest of Humans

By Gael Hees, special to bizNEVADA

Elena Medo is the CEO of Medolac, a public benefit company dedicated to improving preterm infant survival rates by providing safe, storable human breast milk. She started learning about the many health challenges facing preterm infants while teaching hospital staff members to use her patented double-breast milk pumping system. Unlike its predecessors, it featured a soft cup funnel that functioned much like a nursing baby’s mouth, helping mothers who had ceased to produce milk begin lactating again for the benefit of their preterm babies.

Elena Medo, the CEO of Medolac

To continue addressing the nutritional needs of premature babies, Medo, with her co-founder daughter Adrianne Weir, established the Mother’s Milk Cooperative, a business owned by nursing mothers that provides payment to healthy mothers for high quality breast milk. This gave many of them the financial opportunity to extend their maternity leave and spend more time nursing their newborns. She continued researching premature infant nutrition and developed the first customized formulation of human milk for preterm infants.

Through her most recent company, Medolac, Medo has developed the first storable human milk formulation. It has a literal shelf life of three years, meaning that it can sit on a shelf for three years, never needing to be kept cool or frozen until after opening. This allows the formulations to be kept in reserve and used as needed. In addition, it is now packaged in resealable soft packs. These innovations not only make it more convenient to use in a hospital setting, it cuts down on costs by eliminating the need for overnight shipping of frozen breast milk, and cutting down on waste.

Medo and Weir have recently moved their company, Medolac, from Oregon to Boulder City, Nevada leasing an empty grocery store space for the operation. Medo was well prepared to succeed as an entrepreneur, she holds an MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine where she also studied computer science and developmental and Cell Biology as an Undergraduate.

“There were many reasons we moved here [to Boulder City], an important one is that we received an incentive package from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development,” said Medo. “Plus, the building was ideal in many ways, with massive freezers and the sanitary features required of a food facility. The layout was also ideal, with a large open area where we have installed a clean room with other areas dedicated to our microbiology and food safety lab, plus research and development departments,” explained Medo.

When the operation is running at full capacity, it will be able to produce 1,000 gallons of processed breast milk per day in comparison to the 1,000 gallons a month they were able to produce in the now-closed Oregon facility. In addition, the company will have as many as 120 full-time employees, including milk technicians, biologists, and immunologists.

The mission for Medolac is to help ensure a reliable source of human breast milk for all preterm infants. “Human donor milk is unavailable for up to 95% of hospitalized babies who need it because of the high prices.  We intend to change that.  With high volume production and the lower costs that result, we hope to reduce the cost of donor milk by half.” said, Medo. “With what we know from research, no hospitalized baby should ever be deprived of breast milk.”

For more information about Medolac, contact Elena Medo, CEO,emedo@medolac.com949-375-4116.

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