To Donate or Not to Donate Breastmilk?
For me, it all started in the spring of 2012. My 8-week old baby boy had blood in his stools. I took him to see a pediatrician and was told I had a baby boy who was “likely allergic” to something I was eating while breastfeeding him (a separate blog worthy topic!). We started down a 6 month journey of complicated and confusing diets, multiple doctors’ appointments (pediatricians, gastroenterologists, and allergy specialists), and formula trials, ultimately ending with us paying a little over $50 per small can of formula that would last us about 2-3 days, leaving me with HUNDREDS of ounces of fresh and frozen breastmilk that my son couldn’t have! What was I to do with 3 freezers full of breastmilk, while I continued to produce more?
I lived in a small, rural town where there weren’t many resources. I myself was a registered nurse and worked in labor and delivery, but had never helped anyone breastfeed past their initial hospital stay. This left me with late night internet searches, scrolling page after page of how I could donate this liquid “gold” to other infants in need. Unfortunately, there were no breastmilk donation sites or programs near me, but one internet search lead me to the Mother’s Milk Bank (MMB), a program of Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation and a non-profit donor human milk bank in Colorado. Inspired during my personal journey, I completed my lactation training and became an International Board Certificated Lactation Consultant and assisted my hospital of employment to open a breastmilk donation and outreach center through the MMB.
What is the Mother’s Milk Bank?
The Mother’s Milk Bank (MMB) is the 2nd oldest, and largest, nonprofit milk bank in North America, and is a founding member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) (MMB, 2021). Human milk banks receive donations of human breastmilk and proceed to screen and process the human milk to dispense to infants in need, with approximately 85% of the MMB’s donated human milk going to hospitals for premature and sick infants (MMB, 2021). All donor milk is tested for bacteria and drugs of abuse and pasteurized according to the quality and safety requirements of HMBANA. These testing and pasteurizing processes take place in the first certified nonprofit milk bank IS07 lab in the United States (MMB, 2021).
Why Donate Breastmilk?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (2012), infant nutrition should not only be a lifestyle choice, but should be considered a public health issue. Over the years, numerous studies have shown both short- and long-term benefits for infants and their mothers from breastfeeding. Human breastmilk saves lives! One ounce of human breastmilk can feed a premature baby for an entire day (MMD, 2021). With this opportunity, new mothers can find a deeper meaning and value to breastfeeding and bereaved mothers can find a connection and purpose to help them through their grief of losing their infant.
Who Gets Donated Breastmilk?
- Premature infants;
- Sick infants;
- Infants with weakened immune systems;
- Adopted infants;
- Infants born via surrogacy;
- Infants with ill mother, or mother on certain medications.
Our Partnership with the Mother’s Milk Bank
I am so excited to share that we have partnered with the Mother’s Milk Bank here in Grand Island and announce to you the opening of our CHI Health Clinic Women’s Health Donation and Outreach Center! We offer the first and only location in Central Nebraska for mothers to truly make a difference in the lives of thousands of infants!
How to Donate:
Please call or visit me, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Chelsey Kennedy, DNP, WHNP-BC, IBCLC, at CHI Health Clinic Women’s Health (308) 398-9393, located at 705 Orleans Drive, Grand Island, NE, 68803. I will gladly explain to you the process of becoming a breastmilk donor.
Be prepared to provide health history information, undergo a blood test, and submit medical consent forms, all at zero cost to you.
After you are approved, all you have to do is continue to collect your milk, freeze it, and deliver it to the clinic. We will do the rest!
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (2012). Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of
Human Milk. Pediatrics. 129(3), e827-e841. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/129/3/e827.full.pdf
Mother’s Milk Bank (2018). Fact Sheet. Retrieved online on July 19, 2021, from
Mother’s Milk Bank (2021). Our History. https://rmchildren.org/mothers-milk-bank/our-history/