Donors are critical to the success of the Mothers' Milk Bank. Without donors to provide a safe and continuous supply of milk, infants and children who need processed human milk would be deprived of access to this valuable resource.
Donors may choose to express and freeze the milk for a period of several weeks in order to donate a sufficient quantity of milk (approximately 100 ounces of milk or more). If a mother has stored frozen expressed milk that is less than 5 months old in the freezer, she can still donate that milk as long as the milk has been kept frozen.
Donor milk banks receive milk from lactating mothers who have been carefully screened for health concerns and communicable diseases, similarly to the way blood banks screen donors. Additionally, milk bank donors must:
- be non-smokers
- not regularly consume any medication (including mega-vitamins)
- not consume excluded medications or alcohol within the specified exclusion period
If you are eligible to donate blood, then you probably meet the criteria for donating milk.
If you have:
- Been born, lived in, or traveled in, any African country since 1977
- Within the last 12 months have lived in the Caribbean, the Far East, or Japan
- Between 1980 and 1996 lived in the United Kingdom for more than three months, or have ever received a blood transfusion in the UK
- Since 1980 spent time that adds up to a total of 5 years in Europe
- Regularly use over-the-counter medications or prescription medications (thyroid replacement hormones, insulin, nasal sprays, topical treatments, eye drops, vitamins, iron supplements, and progestin-only birth control pills are acceptable)
- Are taking pharmacologically active herbal or preparations, vitamins containing herbal supplements, or taking mega doses of any vitamins
- Consume more than 24oz of caffeinated drinks per day, or regularly consume alcohol (there is a 12 hour waiting period after consuming alcohol before pumping for the bank)
- Have ever tested positive for tuberculosis (we need to discuss the circumstances)
- Are total vegetarians (vegans) and do not supplement their diets with vitamins
Then you may be eligible to donate, but you should contact the Milk Bank. These are the most common issues that may require further discussion with the Mothers’ Milk Bank staff.
If you meet the qualifications of the preliminary donor screening process, then
- call the Mothers' Milk Bank for a brief verbal medical history review and more information on how to donate at (408) 998-4550;
- fill out donor information forms, consent forms, physician approval forms, and information sheets; and
- have a blood test (donors are tested serologically every six months, and the Mothers' Milk Bank covers the cost of the serological screening.)