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Monday, December 12, 2005The goal of the Lactivist is to spread awareness of both breastfeeding and the need for human breast milk donors. Hopefully that's inspired some Lactivist readers to get interested in the possibility of becoming a milk donor. So, what exactly do you need to do to become a milk donor?
1.) Be in general good health - Human milk donors must be in good health and have their personal physician sign off on on their ability to donate milk.
2.) Be able to pump extra milk each day - Milk banks require a minimum donation of 100 ounces. That's because the cost of medical screenings is high enough that the bank must receive at least 100 ounces to be able to afford to process the paperwork. Obviously the more milk a mother can donate, the better, but most milk banks are willing to take as much as a donor is able to give.
Some moms donate extra milk over time, but mother's that find that they have extra milk stockpiled in their freezers are also able to donate that milk as well.
3.) Be willing to undergo a medical screening - Potential donors are prescreened and excluded from being potential donors if they:
- receipt of a blood transfusion or blood products within the last 12 months.
- receipt of an organ or tissue transplant within the last 12 months.
- regular use of more than two ounces of hard liquor or its equivalent in a 24-hour period.
- regular use of over-the-counter medications or systemic prescriptions (insulin or thyroid replacement hormones and progestin-only birth control products are acceptable).
- use of megadose vitamins and/or pharmacologically active herbal preparations,
- total vegetarians (vegans) who do not supplement their diet with B-12 vitamins.
- use of illegal drugs.
- use of tobacco products.
- a history of hepatitis, systemic disorder of any kind, or chronic infections (eg., HIV, HTLV, tuberculosis).
- had a sexual partner in the last 12 months who is at risk for HIV, HTLV, or hepatitis (including anyone with hemophilia, or who has ever used a needle for prescription or non-prescription drugs, or who has taken money or drugs or for sexual favors).
Potential donors also need to undergo blood tests to check for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis among other things. Donors are required to have new blood tests run every six months and with every new pregnancy and are only able to donate for one year after the birth of their own baby.
4.) Be willing to abide by the required guidelines for donors - Donors commit to avoiding any types of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, certain types of diet, travel to certain countries and quite a few medications. In fact, donors are given a sheet that lists medications and how many hours donors must wait after taking them before they can donate.
For instance, if I took a Tylenol, I could not donate any milk that I pumped in the next 24 hours, but if I took an Advil, I could donate after just 8 hours. I also could not donate any milk pumped 24 hours before or after anyone in my household was ill. Donors also agree to wash their pump parts a certain way and even to storing and collecting milk a certain way.
Don't let all that scare you away though. It's such a worthwhile process and it's amazing to be part of something that can impact so many babies lives.
Even beyond that, it was fascinating to get information about my own milk. When my daughter continually drank far less milk than was recommended for her age, the staff at the milk bank was able to tell me that my milk contained more than 25 calories an ounce, a full 25% more than "average." That meant that Elnora needed to drink about 25% less than average to get all the calories she needed.
To find out more about becoming a donor, contact the milk bank nearest you:
Mothers' Milk Bank
751 South Bascom Ave
San Jose, CA 95128
Phone (408) 998-4550
Mothers' Milk Bank at Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center
1719 E. 19th Ave
Denver, CO 80218
Phone (303) 869-1888
Mothers' Milk Bank
4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Newark, DE 19718
Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank, Inc.
Methodist Medical Plaza II
6820 Parkdale Place, Suite 109
Indianapolis, IN 4654
Phone (317) 329-7146
Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa
Children's Hospital of Iowa
200 Hawkins Drive
Iowa City, IA 52242
WakeMed Mothers' Milk Bank and Lactation Center
3000 New Bern Ave
Raleigh, NC 27610
Phone (919) 350-8599
Mothers' Milk Bank of Ohio
Grant Medical Center @ Victorian Village Health Center
1087 Dennison Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201
Phone (614) 544-5906
Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin
900 E. 30th St. Suite 214
Austin, TX 78705
Phone (512) 494-0800
Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas
1300 W. Lancaster Suite 108
Ft. Worth, TX 76102
Phone (817) 810-0071
BC Women's Milk Bank
C & W Lactation Services
4500 Oak Street, IU 30
Vancouver, BC V6M 3X4
Phone (604) 875-2282
Bronson Methodist Hospital (In Development Stage)
601 John St. Box 306
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Phone (269) 341-8849