The Price Tag for Precious Donor Milk

The Price Tag for Precious Donor Milk

Thursday, 6/14/2018

At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT), we are immensely honored to connect generous mothers to fragile babies. Providing this bridge safely is our specialty and requires careful screening, processing and packaging. We are proud to keep costs low and only charge what is needed to meet the demand for life-saving donor human milk.

The Cost of Milk

As a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, our mission is to serve babies, not owners or investors. Because milk is donated, MMBNT does not charge hospitals or recipients for the milk itself. Fees are determined by the processing costs incurred to ensure donor milk is safe for critically ill infants. MMBNT’s tissue processing fee is $4.40 per ounce and falls in the low range of most North American nonprofit milk banks that charge $4.00 to $5.50 per ounce. Because this fee does not cover all operating expenses, we rely on generous foundation support and individual gifts from our community.

Fees for Safety

While processing donor milk may seem expensive, protecting vulnerable infants from communicable diseases and bacteria is priceless. Besides the normal overhead expenses to operate a tissue bank such as rent, salaries, utilities, insurance and equipment, other critical expenses include:

  • Donor screening
  • Blood testing of potential donors for multiple diseases, including HIV
  • Lab testing of milk
  • Pasteurization
  • Packaging
  • Storage
  • Shipping
A Little Goes a Long Way for Inpatient Babies

Eighty percent of the babies we serve are tiny preemies in the NICU who require a very small, but important, volume of milk. The total cost to feed these babies can be as little as $7.00 per day. Hospital NICUs order pasteurized milk and pay processing fees just like they pay for blood, medication and nutritional supplements. Donor milk is only a small part of the treatment for preemies in the NICU.

Charitable Care for Outpatients

For sick babies at home’s families without resources to pay processing fees, MMBNT’s charitable care program ensures that babies are never denied life-saving milk. On average, MMBNT provides more than $400,000 of charitable care annually. Most of these families don’t have insurance, have reached their policy’s lifetime maximum or have other situations preventing insurance reimbursement. Examples of outpatient babies we have served include infants with HIV complications, feeding tubes, heart defects, severe bowel malformations and those awaiting organ transplants. Babies are prioritized based on their medical condition, not their family’s ability to pay.

Help for Healthy Babies

MMBNT envisions a future in which all babies have the opportunity to receive human milk. The Donor Milk To Go program offers a safe feeding transition for healthy newborns between hospital discharge and an established breastfeeding routine. Under medical care by physicians and lactation specialists, parents can supplement with safe donor milk instead of formula. Based on availability and a physician’s prescription, 100 mL bottles have a tissue processing fee of $10 each and 200 mL bottles are $20 each.

Prioritizing for Saving Lives

While every baby can benefit from human milk, it is important to appropriate donor milk where it can do the most good for the most babies. At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we are so very grateful to the milk donors willing to share their milk with these precious babies who have so much to lose without it.

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

Lab technician pouring breastmilk into flask
Technicians working in breastmilk lab
Lab technician removing breastmilk bottles from pasteurizer
Lab technician running breastmilk sample through nutritional analyzer
A peek into MMBNT's lab