Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas addresses common questions by moms in our community
Last week’s blog was entitled Milk for Money – Is It Ethical for a Company to Pay Moms for Breastmilk? Today, we continue the dialogue about this controversial subject and address questions about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) and our philosophy regarding donor milk and partnering with the generous moms in our community.
At MMBNT, we fully support mothers and the decisions they make about their own breastmilk. Backing nursing mothers in every way is the cornerstone of what we do. At the milk bank, we provide a safety net, ensuring that premature and critically ill infants are protected with pasteurized and tested donor milk. Mothers who choose to donate or receive milk through “peer-to-peer informed sharing” should do their research and understand the potential risks. For hospitalized and sick babies at home, the safest way to receive milk is through a milk bank.
Why would I donate my milk for free, if I can sell it to a company instead?
When mothers sell their milk to a for-profit company, they don’t always have the level of certainty about where their milk ends up. Also, selling milk opens up several quality control concerns. Would a needy mom deprive her baby of milk or dilute her milk because she needed money? As in blood banking, we have found that donors who give simply to help another person, yield the best results. Also, our moms at MMBNT love to have communication with the families of babies they help. Finding new ways to connect donor moms with recipient stories is a constant goal.
Because MMBNT is a non-profit milk bank, families are not charged for the milk itself, only for the expenses of milk processing. These tissue-processing fees include the procedures of storing, pasteurizing, testing and dispensing donor milk. Because these fees typically only cover 60% of operational costs, the milk bank relies on community support, grants, fundraising events and individual donations.
How do you decide which babies will get my milk?
Human milk is a precious, limited resource and is prioritized for the sickest of babies with the greatest need. While EVERY baby can benefit from human milk, it is important to appropriate donor milk where it can do the most good for the most babies. Typically, 75% of donor milk is dispensed by physician prescription to NICUs, and 25% to medically fragile babies at home. At MMBNT, donor milk is not stored for long periods of time. We process and dispense milk quickly. The more milk we receive, the more babies we can help.
Babies are prioritized based on their medical condition, NOT their ability to pay. MMBNT’s charitable care program, The Milk Money Fund, ensures that a fragile baby going home from the hospital on donor milk will receive it, regardless of the family’s financial situation. In 2013, MMBNT provided $615,000 of charitable care. The Milk Money Fund is made up of funds donated by individuals and families who support the milk bank.