Milk bank seeks do­na­tions

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Cristina Peña cpena@states­man.com HOW TO DO­NATE Con­tact Cristina Peña at 4453851.

As the ac­cep­tance and pop­u­lar­ity of breast milk do­na­tions rise, the milk bank in Austin is ask­ing for help to keep up with the de­mand.

Mother’s Milk Bank Austin serves 90 health care cen­ters in 21 states but is cur­rently only meet­ing 50 per­cent of de­mand, of­fi­cials said. It’s a sharp de­cline from 2011, when the milk bank met 85 per­cent of de­mand by pro­vid­ing 102,310 bot­tles of donor milk to 82 hos­pi­tals.

Dr. Peter Un­ta­lan, neona­tol­o­gist and pres­i­dent of the group’s board, said although the bank is not meet­ing de­mand, it may be a good sign that breast milk do­na­tions and their ben­e­fits are be­com­ing more widely known.

“Breast milk is not as widely ac­cepted as blood trans­fu­sions as a lifesaving do­na­tion,” Un­ta­lan said. “Our over­all do­na­tions are up, the prob­lem is the de­mand for milk has in­creased as more providers un­der­stand it bet­ter.”

Mother’s Milk Bank Austin Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Kim Upde­grove said the cur­rent de­crease in do­na­tions can be typ­i­cal for the hol­i­day sea­son be­cause new moth­ers are busy with fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Hu­man milk helps their sur­viv­abil­ity and makes them smarter,” Upde­grove said. “Our goal is to have ev­ery preterm in­fant be a con­tribut­ing mem­ber of Call 494-0800 or email va­lerie@milk­bank.org to set up an ap­point­ment. The screen­ing process in­cludes a 10 to 15 minute phone in­ter­view, an in­per­son in­ter­view and a blood test. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.milk­bank.org/ so­ci­ety, and with hu­man milk we can do that.”

Board mem­ber Kari Anne Roy has par­tic­i­pated in all di­men­sions of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. She be­gan as a donor af­ter over­pro­duc­ing for her son, Isaac, born 12 weeks early as a 2-pound pre­ma­ture baby. Roy saved and do­nated 200 ounces of breast milk for her first do­na­tion.

Five months later, Isaac was hos­pi­tal­ized and needed breast milk, but Roy was no longer pro­duc­ing. Isaac then be­came a re­cip­i­ent of donor milk to en­sure his sur­vival.

“What they do there is so im­por­tant be­cause there was noth­ing Isaac could eat,” Roy said. “Hu­man milk is like med­i­ca­tion.”

Moth­ers in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing go through a brief screen­ing process in­clud­ing a phone in­ter­view, a fol­lowup meet­ing and blood test. If ac­cepted, moth­ers are in­structed on how to do­nate milk. There are 22 col­lec­tion sites; the or­ga­ni­za­tion can pay to ship milk for those far away from do­na­tion sites.

“(Milk) is not hard to come by, it’s just hard to get the word out,” Roy said. “There is no in­vest­ment that you have to put into it other than your milk.”

AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN 2010

In this 2010 photo, Ka­t­rina Hunt, milk pro­cess­ing co­or­di­na­tor, mixes breast milk at the Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin. The milk is poured into bot­tles, pas­teur­ized and dis­pensed.

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