Liquid gold

BreastMilkDo you know about a critical donor opportunity to help sick and premature newborns?

Just as blood donation creates a life-saving bank for people needing transfusions – did you know there is a local bank for donated breast milk?  Ok – clearly not everyone can be a donor, but for nursing mothers this is an opportunity to make an absolutely life-saving difference for ill and premature babies and there is a critical shortage right now.

I met with the team at Nationwide Children’s who manage our donor milk supply and they literally refer to it as liquid gold.  Breast milk is truly miraculous – providing not just nutrition but the exact antibodies a newborn needs at any particular stage of development.  For premature babies- even the tiniest – human milk is critical and when mom is unable to provide her own milk they turn to the donor bank.

So how can someone become a donor?  The Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio is a collaborative that collects and distributes donor milk to hospitals throughout the region.  They organize and support all the milk donors as well.   The first step for potential donor moms is a screening – just as you go through prior to making blood donation.  Approved donors will then be provided with supplies to collect and freeze milk.  The bank will arrange with moms to ship, pick-up or drop off milk which is then pasteurized, packaged and distributed where needed, including  Nationwide Children’s,

The sad news is there is a major shortage.  I toured our donor milk area and the freezers were nearly empty.  This is a major worry as we need  more than 6500 ounces (about 2200 3-ounce bottles) every year.  Our goal is to begin giving breast milk even our tiniest premature babies ( weighing just over a pound) within the first days of life.  It may be a just a milliliter at a time but these tiny fighters benefit from the high nutritional value of breast milk and its amazing antibody powers can help protect their digestive track from many life-threatening conditions we see in preemies.  We know these things first- hand because our researchers are leading the nation in developing protocols for caring for the tiniest of premature babies and their medical complications. Donor Milk

Mom’s milk is always our first go-to but when it’s not possible, donor milk is our lifesaver.  Please help spread the word about our current shortage.  There are currently less than 200 donor moms in our community and we need so many more.  You can learn more by contacting the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio at 614-566-0631.

Donna Teach
Donna Teach is Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Nationwide Children's. Her job is to help the hospital feel "connected" – Connected to each other, connected to our patients and their families, referring physicians, the community and the world.

8 thoughts on “Liquid gold

  1. Christel on said:

    How do I donate. My son isn’t nursing anymore but I am still producing plenty. I will be staying at Nationwide while my son has surgery next week and wouldn’t mind pumping while I am there for a good cause.

  2. Thank you for such a wonderful article. My baby boy is due March 29th and I do plan on breastfeeding. After reading this article I would consider donating my milk if possible. I will also pass along this article to others in hope that it will make a difference in someones life.

  3. When I was breastfeeding I had such an oversupply that my child was off the charts for weight and my shirts were always soaked. But when I looked into donation, there was a minimum donation. I only had a hand pump and limited freezer space so all that milk went to waste. I’ve talked with lots of folks in this situation including one recently who is throwing away milk because her baby and freezer are full and she wasn’t able to get past the barriers to donation when she inquired at her local NICU. I see moms posting to give away free milk online all the time. Perhaps there are too many barriers to donation rather than not enough potential donors.

  4. I have a 1 year old and she hasn’t been wean yet but she is starting to slack down on the feedings. I would like more info on this cause I am interested in donating my breast milk. I live close to the Morgantown area in West Virginia.

  5. I have a 9 month old and she refuses to take a bottle anymore for my sister while Im working, so she nurses when Im home, but I pump at work. My freezer is getting backed up. I just saw a comment about there being a minimum amount before you can donate. Can you please tell me what that minimum is? Thank you!

    1. I just sent in my first shipment of milk to the milk bank. The process was simple, get a blood test fill out an extensive health questionare and wait for the results. The minimum donation amount is 200 oz. The cooler I sent today held over 300 oz. Really, the barriers are minimal! The milk bank pays all the expenses, such as lab fees and shipping. They even send you containers for collection! It’s such an easy thing to do, and can help so many babies, I tell every pregnant and nursing mom I can!

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