A Special Gift for Babies

by Delilah Newton | Feb 21, 2019
When her son was born four weeks early, Krista Evans, an occupational therapist at Columbus Regional Health (CRH), couldn’t start breastfeeding him immediately because he needed to be admitted to the neonatal ICU. To help develop her breast milk supply, she used a breast pump about every three hours until he was allowed to latch, 36 hours after he was born.

Evans realized that she was making plenty of milk for her son and felt she had enough to permit her to donate to others. She is one of dozens of local moms who are helping vulnerable babies across the U.S. by donating their extra breast milk to The Milk Bank. CRH became a Milk Depot — a breast milk donation site for The Milk Bank in Indianapolis — to make it easier for mothers who want to donate.

Life-Changing Donations
Breast milk is the gold standard for infant feeding, and it can be vital for some infants.
“Breast milk can be lifesaving when a mother’s milk is delayed or not available,” said Amanda Dornfeld, M.D., a family medicine physician who specializes in breastfeeding medicine. “It contains immune properties not available in formula. Donor breast milk can help prevent a serious intestinal condition in babies born eight weeks or more early.”
Other reasons infants may need donor breast milk include delayed milk production in mothers, congenital abnormalities, feeding intolerance and failure to thrive. Babies typically need donated breast milk for a short time until their mothers are able to produce an adequate amount of milk.

How It Works
The Milk Bank follows strict screening and processing guidelines to ensure the safety of the donated milk. Potential donors go through extensive testing. “Local mothers can have their blood drawn at no charge at CRH as part of the screening process,” said Amanda Virostko, action team coordinator for the Breastfeeding Coalition. “Once women are approved as donors, they can drop their milk off at CRH. We take care of packing and shipping the milk to The Milk Bank for them.”

CRH ships the donated milk to The Milk Bank where it is tested, pasteurized, frozen and distributed throughout the country to the fragile babies who need it most. CRH receives donated milk from The Milk Bank, and infants need a prescription to get donated breast milk.

Moms Who Give
When Evans returned to work after three months of maternity leave, she continued to pump breast milk and has donated 5,294 ounces. No one receives compensation for donating breast milk.

“It’s very altruistic,” Dr. Dornfeld said. “Moms who donate know there are special benefits to breast milk, and they just want to share those health benefits with families of infants who can’t otherwise get breast milk.”

Would You Like to Donate?
If you'd like to donate, contact The Milk Bank. Once you have a donor number, you can call the Lactation Department at CRH at 812-375-3545 to schedule a time to drop off your milk. 

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