OhioHealth Mothers' Milk Bank: From Donor to Recipient
Natalie Willison’s daughter, Daphne, was born early at 24 weeks. But she was born at 24 weeks, which meant a stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). While in the NICU, Natalie produced much more milk than Daphne needed. Not wanting the milk to go to waste, she took the advice of another NICU mom and reached out to the OhioHealth Mothers' Milk Bank to donate her excess.
Doctors say the best medicine for preemies is mothers’ milk.
“It is the one thing that we know that reduces the risk of a very fatal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis," said Chris Smith, RN, outreach coordinator for the Milk Bank. "And if a mom does not have enough of her own milk to provide her infant, the pasteurized human donor milk is the next best choice.”
In 2016 alone, this facility provided pasteurized donor human milk to premature infants at 74 hospitals in 14 states and Canada.
“Last year we produced or we dispensed over 300,000 ounces of milk, and they say that one ounce of milk will feed an infant for three days," said Smith.
Natalie says one ounce is very easy for her to donate. In fact, since June 2017, she has donated over 10 gallons of milk
Chris says the Milk Bank always needs more donors like Natalie. But how does a mother become a donor?
It’s a three-step process. Potential donors first have a phone interview, then fill out a form about their health history. Finally, they have a blood test done, with all costs covered by the Milk Bank. Chris says they make it as easy as possible for women to donate.
“Our local moms will usually stop in and drop off their milk. Our moms that are out of town, we send them shipping containers and FedEx labels so that it doesn’t cost them to ship the frozen milk back to us, said Smith.
It’s a gift that mothers like Jennifer Allen really appreciate. She wasn’t able to produce milk for her baby, Julijana, also a preemie, born at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.
“A huge thank you. It really is priceless to us," said Allen.
Interested in becoming a donor to the OhioHealth Mothers' Milk Bank? Click here or call (614) 566.0630. You can also email MilkBank@ohiohealth.com.