<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\07518872353\46blogName\75The+Lactivist+Breastfeeding+Blog\46publishMode\75PUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\46navbarType\75TAN\46layoutType\75CLASSIC\46searchRoot\75http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/search\46blogLocale\75en_US\46v\0752\46homepageUrl\75http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/\46vt\0754224927842028678352', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Is The International Breast Milk Project a Scam?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Man do I hate asking questions like that. I mean who wants to be the jerk that questions the intentions of a group that aims to provide breast milk to AIDS orphans in a third world country?

I've been sitting on this post for awhile now trying to decide if I should publish it, or simply keep responding to the emails that I receive almost weekly from moms looking to donate to this organization. Then I saw that Mothering.com had decided to promote the International Breast Milk Project as their "activism alert" in their newsletter, and I realized that the time had come to speak up and say something.

I've made no secret of my dislike for Prolacta. I've even written posts cautioning mothers about "The National Milk Bank" and other non-HMBANA affiliated banks that are usually serving as a front for Prolacta.

I wonder, how many Mothering readers know that Prolacta is the group now "funding" and "running" the International Breast Milk Project?

Now, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for Jill Youse and her idea of setting up this organization. I think it's a beautiful idea and brings much needed attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis and the problems with formula use in third-world countries. In fact, I wrote about this project back when I first heard about it.

From the IBMP site:

The International Breast Milk Project is the first organization in the world to provide donor breast milk from the United States to babies orphaned by disease and poverty. The first batch of donor milk arrived to the iThemba Lethu orphan home in April 2006. The organization was founded by Jill Youse and her brother Will Harlan. Over 800 moms have applied to donate to the Breast Milk Project.

Now I understand that shipping milk to Africa is AMAZINGLY expensive. The cost of keeping that milk frozen and of safely transporting it is extremely high. Thus, it only makes sense that Youse needed to partner with a company to take care of the cost of processing and transporting the milk.

I just wish she'd chosen someone other than Prolacta.

I've got two primary issues with this arrangement and I think that any mom preparing to donate to the International Breast Milk Project needs to be aware of them and needs to consider them before making her choice of where to donate.

1.) Money. Apart from the very high cost of processing and shipping all that milk, there's the cost in screening donors, shipping them free hospital grade pumps, sending them free storage bottles and covering the full cost of shipping and materials to safely get the milk from donor mom to the Prolacta processing center.

Now, if all of the money put toward that was simply sent to Africa to allow them to work on setting up their own system of screening mothers and collecting local milk, I have to believe that it would go MUCH further than it will with the current setup.

In fact, this quote is from the IBMP web site:

We funded our first two banks in October 2006 established by Dr. Peter McCormick. Setting up small banks in rural Africa to benefit fragile, sick, preterm babies is neither expensive nor complicated: Dr. McCormick's milk banks cost less than $1000. Our goal is to continue to support this effort by implementing 4 hospital based banks in 2007-2008.

If that's the case...why collect milk here at all? Why not use all those collection funds to start new banks in Africa? Quite honestly, there's just something that feels condescending to me about shipping over our American milk to "save" their babies rather than helping them make use of their own resources to save even MORE babies.

2.) Lack of Disclosure. Quite honestly, this is the biggie. I've had a LOT of email in the last six months from mothers that had/have signed on to donate to this organization. Every last one of them went through the screening process and went so far as to receive their donor kit before finding out that everything was being run through Prolacta. Most of them emailed me when they could not get a straight answer from Prolacta about whether or not the milk they donated would be going to Africa or into Prolacta's American milk bank. (Which charges hospitals roughly 10x more than HMBANA banks.)

I did some digging around and turned up a few things that simply don't add up.

Over 800 moms have applied to donate to the Breast Milk Project. (from the IBMP site.)

Some of your milk goes to babies in Africa and some of your milk stays here for critically ill babies in hospitals. Exactly how depends on how much you send and how much room is left in our shipment. (from the IBMP site)

"The average donor is probably pumping 800 to 1,000 ounces for a shipment, but it really varies. It could be 100 ounces; it could be 2,000."
(from Foreign Policy)

"All milk from qualified donors is pooled together in large batches when production begins, starting with the oldest milk in the freezers. This varies as milk from different donors becomes available. So percentages may vary from batch to batch. I can tell you that we have made the commitment to send 5,000 ounces twice a year to Africa and that the milk that comes into this bank is given priority to that commitment. Any amount of milk that is received beyond that will go to premature infants in the United States to enable additional donations to Africa. "
(from an email sent from "Robin" at Prolacta to one of my readers)


So let's do the potential math there...

800 moms times an average of 500 ounces each. (Let's cut the above quoted average of 1000 ounces in half) = 400,000 ounces per year

Prolacta's commitment to Africa = 10,000 ounces per year (for those not so great at math, that's enough to feed two children 32 ounces a day for 5 months.)

Even if the IBMP is only bringing in half of my already halved estimate...that's 200,000 ounces a year of which 5% is being shipped to Africa and the rest is being used by Prolacta state side.

Does that seem wrong to anyone else?

Now, for full on accuracy, the Prolacta site says that all money "earned" from the breast milk donated to this project goes back into funding the project.

Well, let's see. If they have 390K ounces of excess per year that they are selling at $35 an ounce. That's umm...$13.6 million.

Again, I ask...does anyone else feel like something a little strange is going on here?

I emailed Prolacta myself to try and get some answers from them on exactly how much of the milk that's donated to the IBMP will end up in Africa. I emailed three people. Twice. I could not get a response.

I'd love for them to respond now.

I want to believe that while I disagree with a lot of things about the way Prolacta is run and the way that they represent themselves, that they really are supporting this project with 100% openness and honesty.

Based on what I can find on the Prolacta and IBMP sites and in the news, what I'm hearing from donor moms and the lack of response to any questions I put forth to their staff, I'm left with the cynical thought that Prolacta has found a wonderful tear-jerker cause upon which to build a for-profit milk banking business.

Thinking about donating to the International Breast Milk Project?

How about writing a check to an HIV/AIDS orphan charity and donating your milk to a non-profit HMBANA milk bank instead?

Labels: ,

  1. Blogger Ahmie | 12:28 PM |  

    Sounds like Prolacta is setting itself up for a lovely little audit from the IRS and other agencies if you ask me. Maybe the "right" people need to have this math pointed out to them. My understanding is that there are some pretty strict regulations on making a profit off of non-profit donations, and you're right, there's no way that there isn't at least several million dollars in profit missing here - why aren't there a few thousand African milk banks being built as I type to more effectively use that money than shipping temperature-sensitive packages across an ocean?

  2. Blogger Elizabeth F. | 12:54 PM |  

    Thanks for your post about this. I signed up to be a donor to IBMP. I'm screened and have pumped, but not sent them my milk yet. Right after I signed up, one of my co-LLL leaders told me about their affiliation with Prolacta. I'm not sure what to do at this point. Your math made good sense and I'd love to hear their answers.

  3. Blogger Eilat | 12:54 PM |  

    Although this sounds disturbing, and you may have hit on a scandal here, I think there is a larger problem with milk banking and donations and that Prolacta is naturally (fraudulently?) filling a void in the market.

    Last November, I had ~250 oz in my freezer and I really didn't want it to go to waste. So I tried to find a local milk bank or other method of milk donation. I live in Pasadena, CA and the nearest MMB is in San Jose. So I signed up and went through the process. Filling out paperwork and getting doctors to sign forms. My pediatrician's office was going to charge me $10 for her to sign that my baby is thriving and I can donate his milk (he was 14 months old). My primary doctor REFUSED to order the lab tests because the HMO rejected the claim to pay for the labs (it took over a month to get to this point) even though I told them (and the letter from the milk bank that I sent to them stated) that the milk bank would pay for the tests, but a doctor needed to order the tests because LabCorp and any other lab wont test any person coming in off the street. Finally, I get the lab order and take the tests and the lab screws up and places my name as the financially responsible party. A month after I send the MMB my precious 250 ounces I get a bill from LabCorp for $625. Many hours on hold later I got the error fixed, or so I thought. A month ago (4 months later!) I began getting phone calls from LabCorp after their business hours with a recording telling me that I owe them $625 and threats to call a collection agency, etc.

    I think Ive fixed the problem, but my little act of altruism ended up being a huge pain! No good deed goes unpunished, y'know? I know a few moms who didn't bother going much further after inquiring with MMB, and just dumped their unused milk. This is NOT to disparage MMB at all, but the system is very user unfriendly.

    Not to mention the cost to the MMB. I didnt realize what a small-potatoes donor I was, but 250 ounces at $3/oz = $750. That barely covers the lab costs, never mind processing fees and shipping. I feel bad having cost the MMB money with my donation.

    Meanwhile, my husband happens to work next door to Prolacta (huge coincidence) and while I was waiting to resolve the issue with the MMB he asked them what I would need to do. They would send someone TO ME to take blood and the whole process seemed very nice and easy. I vowed to go that route next time.

    Now you're making me think again. Obviously anyone donating milk is just trying to do a good thing. But how can we change the system so the donating to an MMB does not take three months and cause so much stress?

  4. Blogger The Lactivist | 12:58 PM |  

    Eilat,

    Sorry that that was your experience! I've signed up as a donor twice here in Columbus and both times it was as simple as a quick phone interview, forms faxed to my midwife and Ped, and then a trip to the milk bank where they drew the blood and handled the lab work.

    I can't even imagine why the San Jose bank wouldn't work the same way...

  5. Blogger JudyBright | 1:15 PM |  

    I smell a rat too.

    So, just to clarify, Prolacta takes donated milk and sells it at a profit? They don't pay mothers at all?

    That's ridiculous. They've already shown that they're just playing on the emotions of people that want to make a difference by donating milk to sick babies and profiting off of it.

    They're just trying to increase they're American supply to sell to American hospitals. IMO :-)

  6. Blogger Laureen | 1:54 PM |  

    For what it's worth, I've had two *very* bad experiences with the San Jose bank, (including being told that my 13-month old's milk was "worthless to us and to your baby") and at this point, wouldn't give them the time of day, let alone my milk.

  7. Blogger The Lactivist | 2:16 PM |  

    Wow! Laureen, that's awful...I hope that you sent a letter or made a call to Pauline Sakamoto to let her know.

    I know it's the largest milk bank in the country, but I'm shocked (and dissapointed) at some of the stories I'm hearing.

  8. Anonymous R. | 7:08 PM |  

    Total scam, and thank you for pointing out precisely why. Good work, Jen!

    Babies in Africa need milk banks -- let's help set up milk banks in Africa. In the process, maybe we can figure out how to expand and improve the non-profit milk banking system here in the U.S.

    And a big fat "shame on you" to Prolacta for perverting the compassion and hard work of good mothers into yet more exorbitantly-priced and deceptively-gotten donor milk.

  9. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:18 PM |  

    Taken from MDC: If anyone wants to pump and donate, I'd encourage you to join MilkShare: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/MilkShare/ You can find parents there that need milk for their children. The parents usually always cover the costs of the pump, bags, and shipping.

  10. Blogger Sarahbear | 8:58 PM |  

    $35 per ounce?! Yeesh...and people thought they couldn't afford formula. Why on earth are they allowed to charge that much and is it covered by insurance companies?

    It's a shame so many women are spending their time and effort pumping for a good cause, only to be taken advantage of for their kindness.

  11. Blogger Carolyn | 11:42 PM |  

    OK, I am currently in the screening process to donate milk, but I haven't got to the donor kit part yet nor have I sent them any milk. I desperately want to donate to a not for profit milk bank but my milk is "tainted" with mad cow disease (I lived in Europe for 8 years during the peak of mad cow disease, so they won't take my milk even though I was only 2 when I moved there so not eating a lot of meat, and I didn't even like beef that much! But that's enough to disqualify me). I donated privately once before but I haven't donated yet so far. I have about 400 ounces to donate from my freezer, and some is soon expiring (transition milk, to boot!). I am very disappointed to find this out about the International Breastmilk Project, because I so wanted to be able to donate my milk.

    I think I will look in to milk share before I donate to the IBP. Thanks for the info on the IBP and milk share.

  12. Blogger Stephanie | 5:55 AM |  

    Thanks, Jen. I thought about donating to this program, but the more research I did, the more skeptical I became.

    I work in the charity world and this project just doesn't feel right to me. All of my professional alarm bells are going off.

  13. Anonymous Amanda T. | 6:11 AM |  

    Thank you for posting this. I'm one of the moms who had emailed you in the past few months about this. I was in the middle of the process at the time and continued with it and got my pump & supplies. Just like elizabeth f., though, I haven't sent them any milk and doubt I will now.

  14. Blogger New Mama's Nest | 7:08 PM |  

    Thank you SOO much for this post. I have been donating through IMBP for several months now and chose them specifically for the places my donations would end up (Africa and several NICU's). In researching them, as well as during the interview process, I was specifically told they were NOT selling donated milk at a profit.

    They made the screening process a breeze (as someone else said by sending coming TO me for testing) and accepted an abundance of stored milk I had left over from my sons NICU days.

    I am hugely disappointed to uncover the truth here. And yes it would be nice if there were enough milk banks in Africa to fill the need, but until that happens I hope there is some way to continue donations without lining some corporations pockets. Needless to say, I am going to cease donations while I mull this over. Thanks for the insight!

  15. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:46 PM |  

    Did anyone think to find out if the woman who started this organization, Jill Youse, works for Prolacta or one of its affiliated companies...you might find an very interesting answer.....

  16. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:20 PM |  

    1) Speaking of credibility, who should we trust for accuracy Time.com and Oprah or....someone who sells Nip/Suck shirts?
    2) What are you doing to help babies in Africa?
    3) As a journalist, when we report, we normally give the facts. Obviously you are not a journalist, but perhaps you should strive for better accuracy and consider explaining the reason why Prolacta fortifiers cost more and really try to be a better "lactivist." Hugely disappointing that you have taken this stance with such inaccurate facts. I am sure your readers are smart enough to do their own research and I am hoping it includes consulting intellengent soureces of information.

  17. Anonymous tarat | 4:07 AM |  

    Jennifer, I think you're doing a great job of covering this issue. When I decided to donate milk back in December, your blog was the first listing that came up on my Google search. As a result, I contacted Bronson Mothers' Milk Bank in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There was some work involved on my part (getting to the doctor's office for a lab test, then buying dry ice and driving to a Fed Ex place to ship the milk). I considered this part of the donation, though, and overall found the people at Bronson very easy to work with.

    It wasn't until later that I came across the IBMP website and thought, "This looks like a nice project." I'm so glad that this misleading website wasn't the first one I came across! I hope that someone out there can study this Prolacta situation further.

  18. Blogger Homebody | 5:11 AM |  

    I think they are able to get away with it by making it easy. They come to you, will take whatever you have, have many fewer restrictions. And they are EVERYWHERE.

    And of course there are the not so great experiences with the HMBANA banks in some locations. I did not donate with my first because of
    rude people at the San Jose bank. I contacted the Austin TX bank and the Denver bank, but they did not take previously pumped milk, and I would not have enough post-testing milk to help them out. I lost out on some donating this time round because my closest milk bank, in Delaware, apparently no longer exists. I wasted a couple months trying to contact them.

    On a good note, if you have at least 200 oz to donate, the Wakefield Milk Bank in NC will pay for the shipping. They will take previously pumped milk as long as you know it is drug and alcohol free. Also, they have a 'dairy free' milk bank, for babies who are reactive to cow's milk in mama's diet. So if you are 100% dairy free for whatever reason, they would love to have your milk. They are the nicest people on the planet too.

    http://www.wakemed.com/body.cfm?id=135

    I guess the take home here is keep trying. Most folks can find a way to donate to a true non-profit.

    -A

  19. Blogger Elizabeth F. | 5:24 AM |  

    I have an idea! I first heard about IBMP on Oprah. She was endorsing the project Big Time! Remember when Oprah called out that author of the book "A Million Little Pieces" and he admitted that he had lied, etc...??? Oprah does not like to be made a liar!! Maybe you or someone could contact Oprah's show and give her wind of it??? I'm sure things would change if it was exposed on her show. :-)

  20. Blogger The Lactivist | 6:06 AM |  

    I'm going to refrain from pointing out the irony of the last few words in your post.

    As for "facts" and being a "real reporter."

    Umm...I'm not a reporter. I'm just a mom on the Internet asking some questions based on things that those REAL, credible reporters (and Prolacta's own staff via their web site) have written. That's why all of the "facts" in my post have links to the news articles or the pages on the Prolacta site that they came from.

    I also find it interesting that you've chosen to come in anonomously to hurl charges at me rather than sharing your name and allowing people to see you who are.

    What am I doing to help babies in Africa? Well, let's see. Would you like to see the check stub of the $750 I spent to send aid workers two years ago, or the receipt for the $1200 that I helped raise by throwing a giant garage sale and baking more cinnamon rolls than you've ever seen?

    How about the more than $3000 that I've raised for my local HMBANA bank in the last 18 months?

    You don't have to like my post or agree with it, but please don't accuse me of doing "nothing" without knowing who I am or what I *have* done.

    I also don't think you want me to go into what I think about Prolacta's fortifiers. That's a subject for a whole other thread. But I'm sure my intelligent posters are capable of doing their own research.

    After all, if I shared the facts that you find to be credible elsewhere on this blog, I'm sure you'd decide that they'd suddenly become not credible. ;)

  21. Anonymous CP | 7:46 AM |  

    I am a new reader of your blog, and as a future physician, I've really learned a lot of the issues you bring up here.

    I thought you'd be interested to know that the IMBP has now changed the answers on the freqently asked questions page and the projects page. Nice to know that a little bad publicity goes a long way.

    It now says...
    "For our first 3 shipments, 100% of the milk from our IBMP donors went to Africa. We had more applications for our 4th shipment than we ever expected, thanks to our Oprah Show appearance and the Time.com article! We sent a Mother’s Day shipment and are still receiving milk that will go towards our 5th shipment. We also are working with Prolacta to figure out a way to donate milk to critically ill babies in the United States."

    I think it's right of you to be suspicious of Prolacta, but I wonder if the people running the project were just faced with an overload like they said. Do you know whether the program has leadership that is separate from Prolacta? After all, money is an important part of all this, and partnering with industry is sometimes an easy (necessary?)way to get good work done.

    I also really liked your idea of setting up milk banks in Africa, and I wonder how the IMBP is going about that.

  22. Blogger Lauredhel | 8:29 AM |  

    The same heckler posted almost identical comments on my post on this at Hoyden About Town. S/he used a fake email address and the username "mesamommy".

  23. Blogger The Lactivist | 9:54 AM |  

    CP, Interesting and thank you for the update!

    As I said, I'm not SAYING that Prolacta is doing anything wrong, I'm simply saying that the numbers don't seem to add up and that both myself and many donor moms are having a hard time getting straight answers.

    If Prolacta wants to gather this milk and sell the excess for ANY reason, it's fine by me, SO LONG as the donors are made well aware that that is what's going on.

    (Let's be clear, I don't support for-profit milk banking, the same way that I don't support for-profit blood banking, but if full disclosure is in place and moms still want to donate, then that is their decision.)

    Unfortunately, I've spoken to too many mothers that thought that every last ounce they donate was being given (at no cost) to babies in Africa and that doesn't appear to be the case.

  24. Anonymous tarat | 10:24 AM |  

    Wow, I find it difficult to believe that the post from “Anonymous” was written by a journalist. Questioning Jennifer’s—or anyone else’s—involvement in Africa diverts attention from the issue: Prolacta’s use of donated breast milk. Of course, this raises another problem with the Anonymous post: the author obviously has not done any research! I watched the Oprah episode. If I remember correctly, it was a short segment falling under the general theme of “women who make a difference in the world.” It certainly was not an investigation of Prolacta and its connection to IBMP. Same goes for the Time.com article.

    I find it interesting that this Anonymous post appears in very similar format on the “Hayden about Town” blog. The only difference in that posting is that the author quotes the IBMP website—not exactly investigative reporting.

    It would be great if we could get some real journalists on this case. . . .

  25. Anonymous Emily | 12:41 PM |  

    I think it's interesting to notice that the IBMP has a new website... where did that funding come from ??

  26. Anonymous kort | 10:02 PM |  

    my experience...for what it's worth.

    i donated with MMB San Jose. the screening process was rather involved, but everything worked out fine in the end. and overall i had a very positive experience with them.

    after watching Oprah, i contacted IBMP who put me in touch with a local clinic. they were very upfront about Prolacta and the money side of things.

    i chose not to donate with them because i had already had a good experience with MMB and because i wasn't comfortable with the for-profit aspect of their work. i didn't like that they were mixing "special formulas" of breastmilk. i don't think that breastmilk is just another product.

  27. Blogger Lauredhel | 10:45 AM |  

    kort, do you mind if I ask you to clarify, please? I'm reading your post as saying that you contacted the IBMP intending to donate to Africa, but the IBMP referred you on to a regular Prolacta clinic to donate milk to be sold within the USA? Were you offered no opportunity to donate to Africa, or were you being told that your donation may or may not go there?

    There are several donors speaking up on the Mothering thread, about having donated to the IBMP and not recalling being told that Prolacta may be selling or otherwise profiting from their milk.

  28. Anonymous Julie | 12:54 PM |  

    Some people just always find wrong-doings in things that should be godsends.....get off it! While it's not great to know that someone may be profiting, the funding is needed to have an outcome at all, and I still feel good knowing that little tiny helpless babies that can't choose anything themselves are helped by my milk....and they may be making money but when the little babies that recieved my milk grow up, they'll know that it wasn't the greedy prolacta associates trying to make a buck, it was the people that possibly saved their lives by giving them what they don't have. It's not a hatred, it's a love. Things have to start somewhere, and in this material-world that we're living in it usually starts with money. People can write checks for charity all they want, but money donation isn't breast milk donation, and money donations cannot produce breastmilk. Is there any other banks that send donations to Africa? Cuz if there is, they need to publicize a little more.

  29. Anonymous Isgard Hueck | 12:44 PM |  

    Bravo Julie.
    Despite the fact, that some company has to face a scandal about their profit making, any help for the poor babies is better than throwing the milk in the trashcan.
    To be proactive: can someone tell me where to donate my frozen breast milk? I am super healthy, but happen to live in Germany at the wrong time (mad cow disease, but I am vegetarian!!!!)
    Well, maybe you have an idea where we can donate our milk? I would love to know. Isgard

  30. Blogger The Lactivist | 1:43 PM |  

    Isgard,

    You can try Milk Share. :)

    http://milkshare.birthingforlife.com/

  31. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:11 AM |  

    there are not 800 donors there were 800 people that applied. Please get your facts right before posting. I am not meaning to be rude, but you are talking a lot of people into not donating and don't have the facts correct. I am sorry if this sounds ugly I promise I do not mean it to be.

  32. OpenID kerriebeth21 | 6:16 PM |  

    I think you can find something wrong with anything if you look hard enough. All milk banks "sell" the processed milk, some charge hospitals/mothers more than others. Prolacta adds fortifiers to the processed breastmilk. They don't just pasturize like many banks. I've sent 1100 oz thus far to a bank that uses prolacta. I have no problem doing it. It's still going to a needy baby, and that's what is important! If a doctor prescribes breast milk to a sick NICU baby, insurance will pay for the milk. So what's the big deal? I've had a baby in the NICU. It sucks. Prolacta can make use of breast milk that other banks WILL NOT. Old milk, up to 2 years frozen...milk from a mother whos baby is older than 6 months old, etc.

    I received a free pump and many, many storage bags. I don't expect to be paid. I'm doing it to help sick babies. That's the whole point.

  33. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:33 AM |  

    Karribeth,

    I need to correct a few inaccuracies from your comment.

    1.) HMBANA milk banks will all accept milk from mother's of babies up to one year old. Some are now accepting milk beyond that point (including the one here in Ohio.)

    2.) The fact that insurance pays for it is actually one of the main reasons we SHOULD be concerned about Prolacta. HMBANA banks charge ONLY enough money to cover the costs of processing the milk. They do not make a profit. Thus, their milk costs far less. The lower the cost, the more likely we are to convince insurance companies to pay for that milk. Higher costs due to companies like Prolacta lead to more resistance from insurance companies to covering donor milk.

    Additionally, HMBANA banks will NOT refuse to send milk to a baby who's insurance or family cannot pay for it. I would be curious to hear how much milk Prolacta ships out for free. HMBANA banks send, ON AVERAGE 20% of their milk without ever being paid for it.

    3.) When I made my first posts about Prolacta, they were NOT shipping a human milk fortifer. They were sending screened and tested milk just like the HMBANA banks are. They were also charging several times more than the HMBANA banks and were actively working to push HMBANA banks out of many hospitals. This included offering to pay hospitals a "finder's fee" for any donated milk they could collect from mother's who gave birth there if the hospital would ONLY work with Prolacta.

    I have no problem with women doing whatever they want with their milk. If you are happy donating to Prolacta, that's your choice. I am simply working to make sure women understand the difference between for profit pharmaceutical companies and non-profit HMBANA banks so they can make informed decisions about where they wish to ship their excess breast milk.

  34. Anonymous realchange | 8:37 AM |  

    Thanks for pointing out important differences between not-for-profit milk banks and pharmaceutical companies. Most of the press coverage does not really examine Prolacta's behind-the-scenes involvement.

  35. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:11 PM |  

    Thank you very much for making this information public whether anyone agrees or not. I am a father who wants to donate my wife's 1,000 oz of unused breast milk. I was the one who learned of this donation possibility and therefore I took on the responsibility to make sure it was DONATED and not sold for profit.

    If a company wishes to sell donated milk, it should be one of the first things that they tell you about. We were all set to donate until I read this.

    I will do as much homework as possible to make sure our donation is just that, a DONATION! I want a needy baby without financial means to be the recipient not a company making money off of a gift.

    Call me old fashioned, but a donation is a donation not a license to rip people off. At $35/oz. that is a ripoff! The concern my wife and I have is that her milk end up going to children with little or no means that need it to survive. If they have insurance, fine and dandy but don't take a freebie and turn it into cash for your company.

    Since we enjoy insurance, we feel the milk should go to those that don't. We will be sending the milk to a not-for-profit organization. Thank you for enlightening the both of us.

Leave your response

Links to this post: