Wed, 03/29/2017 - 1:30 pm
Melissa's family
Melissa's family

Melissa’s oversupply of breastmilk created a huge surplus saved up in her freezer. Knowing that this milk could benefit fragile babies in need, she searched for a local milk bank and found The Gathering Place, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas depot in Miami, Florida. She connected with MMBNT through the depot and has already donated 2,000 ounces of breastmilk that her daughter, Viviana Grace, doesn’t need.

Viviana is healthy and thriving today, but she entered the world with complications. She stopped growing due to velamentous cord insertion, an issue with the placenta, and due to that and her breech presentation, she was born via emergency C-section at 37 weeks and 5 days. Melissa started breastfeeding her right away at the hospital. While Viviana had a good latch, she became cyanotic, or lacked oxygen, when she was nursed.

Viviana
Viviana

A swallow study determined that Viviana had a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the windpipe and esophagus. She was emergency flown to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and at just 5 days old, she underwent surgery to remove the fistula.

“I knew I wanted to breastfeed her, so I pumped around the clock while she was in the NICU to make sure that I maintained my supply,” Melissa said.

After a successful surgery and two weeks in the NICU, Viviana finally went home. Melissa immediately resumed breastfeeding and says it’s done wonders for her daughter, who is now 6 months old. “I attribute her rapid recovery to the power of breastmilk and lots of love,” she said.

Viviana
Viviana

Donating breastmilk is Melissa’s way of helping others who start out with complications like Viviana did. To her, donating is “giving another baby the opportunity for improved health status, mental function and recovery in situations with early adversity.

“I’m a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and I would have never appreciated how difficult it can be to be a parent without this experience,” Melissa said. “Life is full of risk and having a child makes you so acutely aware of everything that can go wrong. It has not been an easy road, but having faith in the power of love and the evidence base for breastfeeding and breastmilk has been a beacon of light providing direction and hope that we are doing the right thing.”

For more information about becoming a milk donor, click here.

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Mon, 03/20/2017 - 8:25 pm
Map of EMBA milk banks
EMBA milk banks

It is well known that Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). HMBANA is the professional association for nonprofit milk banks in the U.S. and Canada that provides guidelines, operates inspections, fosters communication between member milk banks and does much more to create a community of milk banking professionals.

But what does milk banking look like in the rest of the world? Across the globe, there are milk banks and organizations dedicated to providing the best nutrition for babies in need. Last year, we shared the story of Brazilian milk banks. The Brazilian Human Milk Banks Network consists of more than 200 milk banks and is so widespread that donor moms have their milk picked up from home, sometimes even by police officers or firefighters trained in milk transport.

Vietnam milk bank logo
Logo for the milk bank in Vietnam

In Europe, there are more than 200 active milk banks and 17 currently in development. Many countries have their own national associations to regulate the milk banks within their own borders. In turn, those organizations are members of the European Milk Bank Association (EMBA), which unites professionals across Europe. EMBA also promotes research regarding breastmilk and human milk banking. There are 28 countries with membership in EMBA, crossing the continent from as far west as Portugal to as far east as Russia and Turkey.

Milk banking is less developed in other parts of the world, but is becoming more widespread. For example, the first milk bank in Vietnam just opened earlier this year in February. Medical professionals are also working to refine the milk banking system in India.

As milk banking continues expand globally, more and more sick babies will be able to receive the best nutrition possible.

For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

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Wed, 03/15/2017 - 3:18 pm
Breastmilk stored in freezer
Breastmilk, frozen flat and stored upright.

A big part of a pumping mom’s routine is keeping up with her milk stash. And for many of these moms, having an organized system saves them time and makes milk easier to manage. While there are countless ways to store your stash, the following guidelines are great for ensuring milk storage doesn’t take over your life – or your freezer.

1. Label each bag with your name and pump date. When you include your name on each bag as it's stored, then those bags are ready for daycare, donating, or any other purpose that would require identification on your milk.

2. Fill to suggested volume, no more than 2/3 full. Bags can be filled to other volumes, but by leaving a little room, the breastmilk has space to expand while it freezes.

3. Freeze flat. This allows milk bags to fit more efficiently into smaller or designated spaces in your freezer, providing more space for your other frozen goods.

Donated breastmilk stored in bottles
We do accept other storage methods, such as bottles.

While these guidelines are great suggestions, we do accept milk stored in other ways. Donors often bring us milk that’s been frozen in bottles, bags that aren’t flat, or a number of other methods. At the end of the day, every ounce makes a difference at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. As long as we have a donor’s name and/or ID number with her donation, it can be deposited into our system and processed to feed the fragile babies we serve.

For more information about donating breastmilk, click here.

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 2:34 pm
Pasteurized milk bottles

Earlier this year, the Journal of Human Lactation featured a study involving Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas clinicians. Take a look at our press release, republished below, to learn about the important work regarding breastmilk and Ebola virus:

According to a study published Jan. 30 in Journal of Human Lactation, donor human milk processed at non-profit milk banks is safe from Ebola and Marburg viruses.

The article “Ebola Virus and Marburg Virus in Human Milk Are Inactivated by Holder Pasteurization” states that Holder pasteurization inactivates the viruses, and no further screening is needed to ensure the safety of donor human milk (DHM) for high-risk infants.

Staff at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) began research on breast milk safety and Ebola in the fall of 2014, after the first case of Ebola in the United States appeared in Dallas. Staff screens potential milk donors using interviews, travel and medical history, physician clearance and blood testing to eliminate sick or unqualified donors, but minimal research exists regarding the safety of breast milk exposed to Ebola.

“Although the presence of Ebola in a breastfeeding mother would be extremely unlikely, safety for the fragile babies we serve is our top priority and we know that as a body fluid, breast milk is vulnerable,” Amy Vickers, Executive Director of MMBNT, said.

Milk being pasteurized
Pasteurizer at MMBNT

Vickers and MMBNT Medical Director Erin Hamilton-Spence, M.D., joined researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch and Galveston National Laboratory, both located in Galveston, Texas, to conduct the study. Researchers inoculated DHM samples with Ebola and Marburg viruses and processed them using Holder pasteurization.

They found no traces of either virus in the samples after pasteurization.

“We needed this research on Ebola and Marburg viruses in breast milk to ensure the safety of the donor human milk pool, in North America, and around the world,” Hamilton-Spence said. “I am grateful we had the opportunity to conduct this research, and affirm the safety of DHM processed in this way, no matter where the patients call home.”

Holder pasteurization is used in all non-profit milk banks governed by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). This method heats DHM to 62.5 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes while placed in a water bath, which kills harmful bacteria and makes it safe for consumption.

DHM is the standard of care for premature and critically ill infants when their own mothers’ milk is not available. Mothers donate breast milk they produce in excess of their own babies’ needs to HMBANA milk banks, where DHM is then processed, pasteurized and sent to hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and outpatients in need.

For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

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Tue, 02/28/2017 - 10:14 pm
Mary Ashley with a large shipment of milk
Mary Ashley with a day's shipment of donor milk

It takes a village to maintain a successful organization, and at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, that village often involves members of the community. As the Program Assistant for Community Relations, Mary Ashley is part of the team that manages those connections.

Mary Ashley’s interest in and past experiences at nonprofit organizations is what led her to MMBNT. When she first joined the staff, she spent most of her time maintaining the raw milk inventory and its related equipment, and helped with select community relations and outreach projects. As roles have shifted at MMBNT, though, Mary Ashley now is focused 100 percent in the community relations department, which is dedicated to educating the public about milk banking and increasing awareness of MMBNT’s services.

One of her primary responsibilities is to manage the volunteer program. Mary Ashley works with both groups and individuals to set up meaningful projects that help with milk bank outreach and operations. She also maintains the MMBNT blog and Twitter account. Along with the Community Relations Director, Mary Ashley plans events and develops campaigns, publications and advertising.

Mary Ashley at a health fair
Mary Ashley often represents MMBNT at health fairs and expos.

“In my position, I’m able to use my writing and creative skills to relay the important mission of the milk bank,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed working to promote such a great cause.”

Another important aspect of community relations is outreach to potential milk donors. Since mothers only breastfeed for a limited time, the recruitment of new donors is constant. Mary Ashley works with hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics and other health care facilities to distribute materials about donor human milk and how to become a milk donor.

When there’s an opportunity to share MMBNT’s message, Mary Ashley makes the most of it. “Any chance we have to familiarize the community with MMBNT is great,” she said. “The more people know about us, the more fragile babies we can serve.”

For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

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