Are you a healthy breastfeeding mother with more breastmilk than your baby needs? If you would like to know how to donate breastmilk to a milk bank, below is the information to get started. There are 13 Milk Banks in North America that belong to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Our two closest Milk Banks to Omaha are Iowa City and Denver. HMBANA banks provide pasteurized milk via physician prescription to some of the most vulnerable infants, where access to donor milk can sometimes literally be life-saving. HMBANA estimates they need 9 million ounces of donated breastmilk to fill the needs of NICU babies in the US alone. Premature infants are especially vulnerable to necrotizing enterocolitis and research has shown that babies receiving breastmilk have a lower incidence of this potentially deadly diagnosis.
Four hospitals in the Omaha area are drop off sites for donated milk. This means you don’t have to package the milk and ship it to a Milk Bank yourself. Just pick the hospital closest to you which includes Methodist Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Nebraska Medical Center and Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs. Three of these hospitals will send your milk to the Iowa City milk bank. Milk donated at Children’s goes to Denver.
The first step is to call the Milk Bank by phone to start the pre-screening that is required for donors. Potential donors are pre-screened to make sure the donor human milk is free of substances that could compromise the health of the critical babies they serve. The Donor Mother Coordinator will ask questions such as:
- How old is your baby?
- Was your baby born before 36 weeks gestation?
- Are you donating milk collected prior to contacting the milk bank?
- Since you started storing your milk, have you taken or are you currently taking any prescribed or over the counter medications?
- Are you willing to have a blood test at the milk bank’s expense?
- Do you use nicotine products?
- Do you use illegal drugs?
- Can you donate at least 100 ounces or more?
If it is determined that you are a candidate for donating milk, you will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork. It can be returned to the Milk Bank or some banks have the option of filling out the forms online. These will include:
- A consent form
- A donor interview and lifestyle questionnaire
- A healthcare provider release for you to forward to your OB/GYN
- A healthcare provider release for you to forward to your Pediatrician
- Blood testing information
- Collecting and storage guidelines
- Medication and lifestyle guidelines
The next step is to have a blood test. You will receive a form to take to your local lab or a kit that can be shipped to have your blood drawn by your health care provider. You can also have your blood drawn at the hospitals listed earlier that are drop off sites for donor milk. The milk banks will cover the cost of your blood draw. They test for the following:
- HIV 1, 2 & O
- Hepatitis B & C
- HTLV I & II (Human T- lymphotropic virus)
After paperwork and blood testing results are returned to the Milk Bank, your file will be submitted to the Clinical Coordinator for review and approval. You will then be contacted by the Donor Mother Coordinator, who will give you a donor number and provide options for transporting milk to the Milk Bank. Below are the contact phone numbers for the hospitals in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area:
Methodist Women’s 402-815-1335
Nebraska Medical Center 402-552-3487
Jennie Edmundson 712-396-6000
Thank you to all the mothers out there who are willing to share the gift of life to our most vulnerable babies by donating your breastmilk!
Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime with your concerns. I am here to assist you in any way I can.