Mom on a Mission
By Amy Trotter, Community Relations Director
As a former stay at home mom for 16 years, and healthcare marketer by trade, on Monday, I found myself on a trip to Orlando ruminating about how I ended up on a 747 headed to the annual conference of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).
After finding my seat, I was quickly surrounded by a group of 30 women drinking Bloody Mary’s at 10:30 a.m. headed to Disney World together, without kids. I basked in the relief that I had earphones in my purse and a lovely hotel at the end of my journey – not the Magic Kingdom. Been there, done that. And then I realized I was actually looking forward to three days of learning about what has become my passion, donor human milk and the life it gives fragile babies.
My fork in the road began when I was offered a part-time job in community relations at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas in Fort Worth, the third largest dispensing milk bank in North America. Weeks into the job, my husband was refining his jokes about milk donation and then the Ebola crisis hit Dallas. Things got serious.
Human milk is, of course, a body fluid, and body fluids are the primary mode of transmission for Ebola. Suddenly, I was along for the ride and bracing myself for a public relations nightmare. Instead, I learned how believing in a mission can empower a person to be proactive, not reactive. My director, Amy Vickers, and other leading milk bank clinicians across the country joined forces and very quickly spearheaded the immediate analysis needed to determine that processed donor human milk was safe from this deadly and horrifying virus.
Cut to the plane landing in Orlando this week and the conference session that summed up those scary days. Fort Worth neonatologist Erin Hamilton Spence, MD and respected immunologist Robert Lawrence, MD presented the research concluding and confirming that pasteurization kills the Ebola virus.
This week, I’ve met inspiring people from all over the world dedicated to improving the health of fragile infants: physicians, lactation consultants, vendors, executives, researchers and public health specialists. It was impressive to see HMBANA in action leading the future for non-profit milk banking. Disney was never in the picture this week, and the experience was truly magical.