Donor Breast Milk
I had the great pleasure to tour the Mother’s Milk Bank Austin this week and then interview the Executive Director, Ms. Kim UpdeGrove, CNM, MSN, MPH. I learned a tremendous amount about the importance of breast milk in the care and development of the most fragile infants-premature infants and infants born with congenital abnormalities or illnesses or diseases. I also learned that for the infants who need it most, human breast milk is in fretfully short supply. The 10 milk banks across North America desperately need more milk to be able to meet the needs of premature and fragile infants, and more milk can only come from more donors.
The greatest benefits of human breast milk are that it is specifically designed to contain the right nutrients, the right amount of calories and the right immune agents to fight disease specific to human infants. Human breast milk naturally changes and adapts so that at each stage, the infant is receiving the right nutrients for healthy growth and development.
The most common complication to fragile infants is necrotizing enterocolitis. This infection damages infants’ delicate intestines so quickly and often so severely that up to 62% of babies die and the remainder face lifelong complications. Infants who receive breast milk, either from their mothers or from donors, have a dramatically reduced risk of developing this deadly infection.
You can become a breast milk donor in 4 easy steps: (The Mother’s Milk Bank Austin Intake Information. Other milk bank information may vary slightly)
- Complete a 10-15 minute phone screening.
- Complete and return an informational packet.
- Have a blood test done. (In Austin, The Milk Bank pays)
- Approval once all information is in, reviewed and approved.
As previously stated, there are 10 Milk Banks in North America, one in Canada and 9 in the United States.
British Columbia, California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas (Austin),Texas (North). Milk Banks are being established in Ontario Canada, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri New England, Oregon. Hopefully one day there will be a milk bank in every US state, all across Canada and in Mexico. There are Milk Banks in many other countries.
All of the milk banks adhere to the guidelines for human milk storage and safety established by The Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
HMBANA is the only professional membership association for milk banks in Canada, Mexico and the United States and as such sets the standards and guidelines for donor milk banking for those areas. It was founded in 1985 to:
- Develop guidelines for donor human milk banking practices in North America
- Provide a forum for information sharing among experts in the field on issues related to donor milk banking
- Provide information to the medical community regarding use of donor milk
- Encourage research into the unique properties of human milk for therapeutic and nutritional purposes
- Act as a liaison between member banks and governmental agencies
- Facilitate communication among member banks to assure adequate distribution of donor milk
- Facilitate the establishment of new donor milk banks in North America using HMBANA standards.
Donor Human Breast Milk is processed in highly scientific fashion. The milk is measured, analyzed, sterilized and exquisitely mixed so that it is the precise formulation for babies at each age, size and developmental stage. “Follow The Milk” to learn more about the process of preparing donor breast milk.
There is so much that needs to be done. If you can donate breast milk, volunteer or make a financial contribution, any and all support is greatly appreciated. To get more involved, contact a Milk Bank in your area. If there is not a milk bank in your area or if you are unsure of how you can help or where, send e-mail to email@example.com and we will gladly get you to the right people.
Below left, my daughter at 2 days old, born at 36 wks, 6d. She got some donor breast milk until my milk came in. Below right, my daughter today, age 8.
Kim Updegrove, CNM, MSN, MPH is the Executive Director of Mother’s Milk Bank Austin. Ms. Updegrove generously shares her time and expertise to explain to us the critical importance of breast milk for premature and fragile infants and the critical role donor breast milk plays in their very survival. Ms. Updegrove shares important statistics regarding donor milk banking and the hopes she and others have for the future of this life saving practice.