Feb 9, 2010

Milk Bank Donation Guidelines

A lot of breastfeeding moms are asking how they can help moms in stricken countries by donating milk. Here is some info about donating to the Denver Milk Bank, as well as a map of Milk Bank locations nationwide.

"Donor milk meant the difference between life and death for my baby. Lacey would not have made it without it." -Recipient Mother

The Mothers’ Milk Bank screens, collects, processes and dispenses donated human milk as a community service, providing human milk to babies whose own mothers cannot supply the milk to meet their baby’s needs.

Human milk is a miracle. It is one that can and should be shared. The components of milk are unmatched by any commercial formula: immune properties, growth factors, hormones, enzymes and many other factors that optimize the health of infants are present.

Donor Requirements:
  • In good health. English-speaking.
  • Non-smoker. No use of any Nicotine products.
  • Negative blood test for viruses (Prenatal results are NOT used).
  • Using no medications during the time milk is collected for donation, except for: vitamins and minerals; food supplements, progestin-only birth control, or replacement hormones: insulin, thyroid
  • Limited use of caffeine; and a waiting period is required after alcohol use before donating milk
  • Willing to donate a minimum of 150 ounces total during the time they are a donor
  • Medical release forms signed by mothers' and baby's doctors (formed supplied by Milk Bank)

Collecting and Storing Milk:

  • Some mothers already have milk collected; others begin to collect milk after contacting the Milk Bank
  • Previously collected milk can be accepted if: Mother took no medications or herbs during the period when milk was collected, and if Mother and baby had no illnesses during the period when milk was collected.
  • Donors preferably collect and freeze milk using the containers provided by the Mothers' Milk Bank, or in other clean milk storage containers
  • Milk must reach the MMB before the milk is about 5 months old

Blood Testing:

  • All donors have a small amount of blood drawn and centrifuged either at the Milk Bank depot, or at a physician's office if you live outside the Denver area. (Tubes are supplied by the Milk Bank).
  • Your physician or midwife may be able to do this for at no charge.
  • The blood sample and serum are sent to Denver for testing, (a 'blood donor panel') which includes: HIV I/II (AIDS), HTLV-I/II (Human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus, a retrovirus), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Syphilis
  • The Mothers' Milk Bank pays to have blood shipped to the bank and for all required testing
  • You will be notified of the results. Blood testing is required only at onset of donating.

Transporting Milk:

  • Local: Donors bring their frozen milk to the Milk Bank, or staff members pick it up from the donor
  • Several hospitals serve as Milk Bank depots - individual arrangements will be made
  • Out of the area: The Milk Bank provides a special insulated shipping box, and a pre-paid sticker for shipping the frozen milk and blood overnight to the Milk Bank. The donor will purchase dry ice (typical cost is about $5) for each box of milk.
  • For shipped milk, a minimum of 150 ounces at a time is requested.

For more information on milk donation, please call the Denver Mothers' Milk Bank at (303) 869-1888, or toll free at (877) 458-5503. We thank you, and the babies thank you!

A note on the main page says that any donated milk will not go to Haiti, since there is currently no capability in that country to ensure the "safety" and integrity of the milk. That is, it may spoil before use and the infastructure is not in place to handle these shipments.

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