From Milk Bank Staff to Mom: Simone’s Journey

From Milk Bank Staff to Mom: Simone’s Journey

If you’ve been involved with Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas at any point in the past six years, you’ve likely come across Simone Summerlin. As our Director of Programs, she oversees the dispensation of donor milk to both hospitals and outpatients. However, her position has transformed since she first joined the team in September of 2009. And just weeks ago, she stepped into a new role: mom.

Simone, donor mom Amber and her two children.

Simone, donor mom Amber C. and Amber’s children during their visit to MMBNT.

Simone joined the staff after a friend, who worked at MMBNT at the time, asked her if she was interested in a job. Simone had just begun her first semester of college, pursuing a culinary arts degree.

“My plan was to pursue a career in the food industry once my degree was complete,” she said. “When that time came, I realized that I couldn’t leave MMBNT; this place is my home!”

When Simone first joined MMBNT, she started as a Donor Program Coordinator. While speaking with every milk donor who passed through our doors, she realized this job allowed her to fulfill a passion. Despite not yet having children of her own, Simone felt a connection with these donors.

Simone and donor mom Tara R.

Simone with donor mom Tara R., who raised money for MMBNT by selling t-shirts.

“There were countless times I felt completely underqualified for the job, but I used each day as an opportunity to learn from the donors I spoke to and to pass on their wisdom as encouragement for other moms,” Simone said.

After five years as a Donor Program Coordinator, she spent six months flexing her creative skills as Outreach Director. As MMBNT’s needs changed, she stepped into her current role as Director of Programs.

In March, Simone and her husband Adrian welcomed their first son, Rhett, into the world. While she is learning new things every day, Simone says she can credit much of her confidence as a new mom to MMBNT.

Simone, husband Adrian and baby Rhett

Simone, husband Adrian and baby Rhett.

“Between receiving tips and encouragement from donor moms and our executive director’s wisdom as a lactation consultant, I welcomed this new chapter of my life knowing more about motherhood than I could have ever expected to,” she said.

When asked what advice she would give to other new moms, Simone said to relax and cherish every waking moment you have with your baby.

“I make sure that I take the time out of my day to just hold my baby, breathe in his heavenly scent, and soak up every feature of his perfect little body,” Simone said.

We are so glad Simone has been a constant at MMBNT for so long, and we are excited to welcome baby Rhett into our family!

Professional photos courtesy of Mike Miller Photography.


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Board Member Donates Her Time and Her Milk

Board Member Donates Her Time and Her Milk

Becoming a donor mom was a natural fit for Melissa. As a former NICU nurse, she’s seen breastmilk work its wonders firsthand. When she missed working with preemies and other critically ill infants, donating her extra breastmilk became her way of giving back.

Melissa's family awaiting Ryan's birth.Melissa has been pumping for most of 6 month-old son Ryan’s life. “I started at 2 months pumping once per day after he nursed in the morning,” she said. “I would freeze half for him to use later and half to donate. It quickly added up and I was excited to make my donation.”

Ryan is the third child in the family, but this is Melissa’s first time as a donor. While she felt she didn’t produce enough with either of her two daughters, this time she decided that every little bit counts.

“I think there are a lot of moms that feel they need an oversupply to make a difference, when really you just need 15 minutes every morning,” Melissa said.

RyanAt Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we are grateful for Melissa’s donations and the donations of many moms like her. However, Melissa’s involvement at MMBNT extends even further: she is a member of our Board of Directors. She joined the board last summer and enjoys serving a cause that fits so closely with her passion of helping babies.

Melissa's children on Christmas morning.Although Melissa no longer works in the NICU, she still helps babies and their families in a professional capacity. After her second daughter was born, she founded Newborn Nightingales, a sleep consulting and night nursing company. Through this company, Melissa and her staff help parents with their newborn needs, such as nighttime care and developing healthy sleep habits.

In the last three years, Newborn Nightingales has helped more than 400 families, a statistic Melissa is proud of. “I love babies,” Melissa said. “I always have. I also love my sleep and know how important it is for babies and families. This is my way of helping now.”

For more information about becoming a donor mom, click here.

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Mom on a Mission

Mom on a Mission

From the Desk of Community Relations

Amy Trotter

As a former stay at home mom for 16 years, and healthcare marketer by trade, on Monday, I found myself on a trip to Orlando ruminating about how I ended up on a 747 headed to the annual conference of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).best quality HMBANA logo copy

After finding my seat, I was quickly surrounded by a group of 30 women drinking Bloody Mary’s at 10:30 a.m. headed to Disney World together, without kids. I basked in the relief that I had earphones in my purse and a lovely hotel at the end of my journey – not the Magic Kingdom. Been there, done that. And then I realized I was actually looking forward to three days of learning about what has become my passion, donor human milk and the life it gives fragile babies.

Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas buildingMy fork in the road began when I was offered a part-time job in community relations at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas in Fort Worth, the third largest dispensing milk bank in North America.  Weeks into the job, my husband was refining his jokes about milk donation and then the Ebola crisis hit Dallas. Things got serious.

Robert Lawrence, MD; Amy Vickers, MSN, RN, IBCLC; Erin Hamilton Spence, MD

Pictured from left to right: Robert Lawrence, MD – Clinical Professor, University of Florida College of Medicine, Amy Vickers, MSN, RN, IBCLC – Executive Director, Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, Erin Hamilton Spence, MD – Fort Worth Neonatologist, Pediatrix Medical Group

Human milk is, of course, a body fluid, and body fluids are the primary mode of transmission for Ebola. Suddenly, I was along for the ride and bracing myself for a public relations nightmare. Instead, I learned how believing in a mission can empower a person to be proactive, not reactive. My director, Amy Vickers, and other leading milk bank clinicians across the country joined forces and very quickly spearheaded the immediate analysis needed to determine that processed donor human milk was safe from this deadly and horrifying virus.

Cut to the plane landing in Orlando this week and the conference session that summed up those scary days. Fort Worth neonatologist Erin Hamilton Spence, MD and respected immunologist Robert Lawrence, MD presented the research concluding and confirming that pasteurization kills the Ebola virus.

Amy Vickers (left) and me celebrating the end of the conference.

Amy Vickers (left) and me celebrating the end of the conference.

This week, I’ve met inspiring people from all over the world dedicated to improving the health of fragile infants: physicians, lactation consultants, vendors, executives, researchers and public health specialists. It was impressive to see HMBANA in action leading the future for non-profit milk banking. Disney was never in the picture this week, and the experience was truly magical.

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Stroll for a Cause

Stroll for a Cause

At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we know the great impact breastmilk can have on babies’ lives. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics  states that because of its benefits, human milk should be fed to all preterm infants, and when a mother’s own milk is unavailable, human donor milk should be used.

Miracle Milk Stroll official graphicHowever, there is still a need to spread awareness about its life-saving properties. That’s where the Miracle Milk Stroll comes in.

The Miracle Milk Stroll is a casual walking event designed to raise awareness of and support for the human milk cause. Various organizations host strolls across the country to get as many breastfeeding moms, advocates and their loved ones involved as possible.

Net profits from fundraising efforts surrounding the Stroll will be distributed among the beneficiaries selected for this year – all nonprofits focused on providing human milk to sick babies. These include the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, NEC Society, La Leche League USA and the United States Lactation Consultant Association.

Miracle Milk is a project of the Best for Babes Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to changing the cultural landscape surrounding breastfeeding and human milk. This is the third year Best for Babes has hosted this national event.

Stroll location

Fairmount Park is located in Fort Worth’s Fairmount-Southside area on W. Maddox Avenue.

Staff at MMBNT are excited to host a Stroll site for the first time this year. The strolling group will meet at 10:00 am Saturday, May 14 in Fairmount Park, located near the MMBNT office in Fort Worth on W. Maddox Avenue between 5th Avenue and Henderson Street. The 1.2 mile route will take strollers to MMBNT and back by way of the popular Magnolia Avenue. Refreshments will be provided at MMBNT.

One in eight babies is born prematurely, meaning there is a great need for human milk to help these fragile infants survive and thrive. Events such as the Miracle Milk Stroll shed light on this need and strengthen the community of human milk supporters. We look forward to seeing Fort Worth-area supporters at our site and raising awareness about “liquid gold” in our own backyard.

Click here to register for the Fort Worth Miracle Milk Stroll, and click here to RSVP to the Facebook event.


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First Depot in the State of Georgia Opens

First Depot in the State of Georgia Opens

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) and North Georgia Breastfeeding Center (NGBC) established a new milk depot within NGBC, located at 107 Colony Park Drive #700 in Cumming, Georgia, to provide a convenient drop off location for donor breastmilk. Cumming is approximately 35 miles north of Atlanta.

Office Pic (2)

North Georgia Breastfeeding Center

Mothers can drop off their human milk donations at NGBC, which will be collected by staff and sent to MMBNT for pasteurization and shipment to critically ill infants. Donations are accepted Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or by appointment by calling 678-965-0103. This is the first milk depot in the state of Georgia.

“It is with great honor and privilege that North Georgia Breastfeeding Center will have the opportunity to work with our surrounding communities to help facilitate donated breastmilk to save the lives of medically needy babies,” Amy Hammant, Clinical Director of NGBC, said. She adds, “As IBCLCs [lactation consultants], we are committed to the promotion, support and protection of breastfeeding. Breastmilk is nature’s first food and we are thrilled to be able to help provide this precious gift.”

MMBNT collects donor milk from over 40 “depots” located in communities throughout North Texas and other states. Donors are screened through medical histories and blood tests. Once approved, moms freeze the extra milk their babies don’t need and take it to a depot close to home.

NGBC pic 3 (2)

Storage freezer for donor breastmilk

Frozen milk arrives at the milk bank and is logged into a sophisticated barcode and tracking system. It is then thawed, analyzed, packaged in tamper-resistant bottles, pasteurized and tested for bacteria.

Donor milk has become the standard of care for premature infants who have severe feeding problems, intestinal malformations and life threatening complications such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Eighty percent of MMBNT’s donor milk is dispensed by physician prescription to over 110 hospital NICUs. Twenty percent is dispensed by physician prescription to medically needy babies at home. In 2015, MMBNT dispensed a record 552,761 ounces.

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