Below is the step-by-step process involved with donating breast milk. For more information on becoming a donor, contact the Mothers' Milk Bank of Ohio at (614) 544-0810.
Step 1: Finding a Donor Mother
Those volunteering for donating breast milk must be:
- Currently lactating
- In good general health
- Willing to undergo a blood test (at the Mothers' Milk Bank's expense)
- Free of medication or herbal supplements (with some exceptions)
- Willing to donate at least 200 ounces of milk (no requirement for bereaved mothers)
Step 2: Screening and Collecting
A preliminary phone screen is conducted to verify eligibility. If the donor mother is eligible, the Mothers' Milk Bank mails an information packet.
The donor mother takes a blood test and completes several forms including a medical and lifestyle history review. She signs a release form to give access to medical information from her and her child's healthcare provider(s).
Milk collection containers are mailed to the donating mother to collect, freeze and store her milk.
The frozen milk is delivered to a designated drop-off location or to the Mother's Milk Bank.
Step 3: Milk Intake
Frozen milk initially brought into the bank is:
- Stored in a temporary incoming freezer
- Weighed and put in a plastic container
- Logged in and labeled with donor information to ensure tracking of all milk from the donor to the recipient
Step 4: Pre-Pasteurization
The milk is stored in a pre-pasteurization freezer where it is organized in bins by tracking numbers.
Step 5: Pasteurizing
Milk is thawed overnight and poured into testing flasks. Calorie and fat content is tested.
Three to five donors are combined to evenly distribute milk components such as fat, protein, and antibodies. This process takes place in a laminar flow hood to prevent contamination.
Milk is poured into sanitized dispensing bottles and placed in the pasteurizer. The milk is heated and then cooled to eliminate bacteria while retaining the majority of the milk's beneficial components.
The milk is labeled with a batch number and expiration date. It is then moved to the post-pasteurizing freezer. Milk can be stored for up to one year after pasteurizing.
Step 6: Physician Prescription
A physician determines if a recipient needs the milk and writes a prescription. Recipients are usually premature and ill babies, but when indicated, older children and adults can receive milk as well.
Step 7: Packing and Shipping
The milk is packed with dry ice and shipped overnight to non-local hospitals and recipients.