The Logging Room: Where it All Begins

marayTue, 09/19/2017 - 3:48 pm Staff and a volunteer check pump dates on bags of donated milk.
Staff and a volunteer check pump dates on bags of donated milk.

Thousands of ounces of milk flow through Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas every week, so proper handling and organization in the office and lab is a must. Each deposit from each donor is carefully recorded and tracked all the way through processing and pasteurization, starting in the logging room.

 

The logging room is the beginning of the journey for donated human milk. This is where frozen donations are stored right when they arrive at the milk bank, whether from a depot or delivered directly from a donor. There are program assistants on staff at MMBNT who monitor this milk and ensure it is logged into the database, Timeless Medical Systems, correctly.

 

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Milk deposit, including an index card with detailed information about the deposit.

Each deposit of milk is organized according to its donor. Each donor has her own ID number in the Timeless database, and her profile includes her donation history and relevant health information. The program assistants also take note of the earliest and latest pump date in each deposit, as well as the volume of the deposit in ounces. All this information goes into Timeless, as well as on an index card stored with the deposit for easy identification.

 

The database also records the specific freezer where each deposit is stored. The logging room contains many freezers with dozens of deposits in each one, so recording the location in the database makes it easier to find a specific deposit. This particularly comes in handy for the lab staff, who at the end of the day gather all deposits that will be processed the next day.

 

With so many moving parts in the milk bank, organization is vital to everyday operations. This first step helps set up a smooth process for every ounce that enters our doors.

Little Babies & Big Dreams: 13th Anniversary Luncheon

marayMon, 08/21/2017 - 4:38 pm Luncheon invitation
Luncheon invitation

Every fall, Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas celebrates its anniversary with a luncheon. The milk bank opened in the fall of 2004, and since then has provided safe, pasteurized donor human milk to premature and fragile babies in the community. This year, the celebratory luncheon will take place at 11:30 am Thursday, September 21, at River Crest Country Club.

 

Guests will enjoy lunch, dessert and a presentation about the exciting future of MMBNT. Additionally, there will be a raffle containing a variety of prizes, from local restaurant gift cards to gift baskets from local stores and boutiques.

 

Several sponsors are already lined up for this year’s celebration, including our Gold Sponsor, Pediatrix Medical Group – Fort Worth Neonatology.

 

Individual tickets are $75, $50 of which is a tax-deductible donation. All money raised at the event, including ticket sales, sponsorships and raffle ticket sales will go toward our programs that help babies in need. To purchase a ticket, click here.

 

We hope to see you at River Crest on September 21!

 

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

Helping Hands Around the Milk Bank

marayWed, 08/02/2017 - 2:58 pm 2 volunteers pose with packets they have assembled.
A volunteer moves a tray of thawing breastmilk.

There is so much happening on any given day at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. The lab staff is busy processing and pasteurizing milk, the donor coordinators are managing new and existing donors, orders are being placed and packed, milk donations are coming in and so much more. With so many different things going on at one time, extra help from volunteers can help the day run a little more efficiently.

 

Many volunteers help assemble educational materials for potential donors. These “new mom packets” are available at hospitals, WIC clinics and doctors’ offices for anyone who is interested in donating milk. MMBNT is on track to distribute nearly 10,000 packets this year, so when volunteers assemble these, it is an invaluable help to the Community Relations staff.

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2 volunteers pose with packets they have assembled.

Other volunteers work alongside Program Assistants to log incoming milk donations, as well as pack orders for hospitals and outpatients. These volunteers get a first-hand look at both the beginning and the end of milk’s journey through MMBNT.

 

For those who qualify, there is even the opportunity to assist staff in the lab. These volunteers complete extra training in order to work in the lab, and they come in on a consistent schedule.

 

Most volunteers do come as individuals, but many school, workplace and charity groups have also donated their time to MMBNT. If you have an interest in milk banking and want to get involved, consider becoming a volunteer!

 

For more information about volunteer opportunities, email Mary Ashley Ray at maryashley@texasmilkbank.org.

Staff Profile: Ashley

marayTue, 07/11/2017 - 3:14 pm Ashley logs in a milk donation
Ashley logs in a milk donation
Ashley logs in a milk donation.

Ashley is a jack of all trades at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. As one of the newest members of the MMBNT staff, she quickly adjusted to the team mentality of the office and works in several different areas of the organization. It’s only been four months since Ashley started, but she knew it would be a good fit right from the beginning.

 

“My sons spent 10 days in the NICU and I breastfed them because I had done tons of research on the benefits,” Ashley said. “When I came across the milk bank, I knew it was a cause I could get behind 110 percent.”

 

During a typical day, Ashley has a variety of duties. She screens potential milk donors and works with existing donors who have questions or may need assistance, and she also manages the outpatient donor milk recipients. When she's away from her desk, she can be found packing orders or logging in new milk donations. All of this combines to make what Ashley considers to be the most rewarding job she's ever had.

 

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Ashley working at her desk
Ashley spends time at her desk helping both donors and recipients.

The members of the MMBNT family can all agree that there is something special about working for this organization, and Ashley is just the same. “MMBNT is special to me because it’s a community of women supporting one another, even if they’ve never met each other and because of that, babies are genuinely receiving the best possible start to life!”

 

Her personal experience in the NICU with her twin boys, Ethan and Elijah, sheds light on the importance of milk banking as well.

 

"Moms who have babies in the NICU are experiencing an overload of emotion already and if they can't supply what their baby needs, it can be devastating. Having donor milk to rely on helps give them a little peace. Plus, babies are receiving the best possible medicine."

 

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

How Does Milk Get to MMBNT?

marayWed, 07/05/2017 - 6:45 pm Staff at one of the MMBNT depots
Milk donor visits the milk bank
Donor Sara recently dropped off a donation at MMBNT.

While Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas is located in Fort Worth, the city is only home to some of our milk donors. In order to make the experience convenient for all moms, regardless of location, we provide a variety of options for donation.

 

Many local moms enjoy dropping their milk off directly at MMBNT. It gives them the chance to see our staff in action and understand the process their own milk will go through before being dispensed. For those who don’t live near the milk bank, there are 42 collection sites, or depots, that are equipped to store milk donations.

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Staff at one of MMBNT's depots pose by their freezer.
Sarai and Carrie work hard to keep up our Decatur depot.

Most of these depots are located throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to provide an option for those who are in the area, but still aren’t within a reasonable driving distance. The rest of the depots are either in other areas of Texas, or in other states that don’t have their own milk banks. Some of these depots are hospitals, others are WIC clinics and others are organizations with a focus on women’s health. Each depot has a freezer where milk donations are securely stored until the milk leaves for MMBNT.

 

To get the milk to the milk bank, MMBNT’s courier pays a visit to most depots. He can be seen driving our pink van across North Texas, picking up donations and keeping them safe until they are put in the freezer at MMBNT. For the depots that are further away, our staff send overnight shipping materials to the depot. These are the same materials that are sent to milk donors who don’t live near MMBNT or a depot.

 

Regardless of its delivery method, all milk stays frozen during transport and goes into a freezer as soon as it gets to the milk bank. From there, the process of preparing milk for dispensation can begin.

 

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

Serving Babies Near and Far

marayThu, 06/01/2017 - 1:25 pm Overnight shipping boxes filled with frozen donor milk
Overnight shipping boxes filled with frozen donor milk

So many of the fragile infants we serve are right here in our own North Texas community. When we have orders from local hospitals or for outpatients, we send the milk out with our courier to ensure it arrives safely. However, the need for donor milk extends beyond our geographical borders, so we often send milk out of the area and even out of state.

 

In fact, we served 131 hospitals in 2016. In addition to our local hospitals, this number included hospitals in West Texas, East Texas and in surrounding states. When orders have to travel these long distances, they are shipped overnight via FedEx.

 

Keeping donor milk frozen during this long journey requires extra precaution. Each shipment contains a thermometer and a cold chain verification form, which ensures the recipient that the milk stayed in the safe temperature range during its trip.

 

The milk remains frozen in transit thanks to the dry ice included in each box. The dry ice is carefully packaged and the outside of the shipping box is clearly labeled to make sure each special delivery is handled properly. Our FedEx courier picks up these shipments every afternoon to start the chain of delivery to our hospitals.

 

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

Awareness Campaign Debuts in Fort Worth

marayWed, 04/05/2017 - 1:22 pm 360 West magazine ad
360 West magazine ad
Ad in 360 West's April issue

For our donors, recipients, volunteers and other members of our milk bank family, the mission and services of Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas are common knowledge. However, there are many people who don’t know about milk banking, or that there is a milk bank right in the heart of Fort Worth. There are those in the community who could benefit from donor milk or help spread the word to others if they simply were aware.

Thanks to an award from the ToolBox Grants Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation, the dream of reaching more people in Fort Worth is becoming a reality. The grant MMBNT received is for a community awareness campaign designed to reach people in and around the city.

The first piece of our campaign, a half-page ad in 360 West Magazine, hit mailboxes last week. Later this month, our new billboard will debut at the corner of Camp Bowie Boulevard and Bryant Irvin Road in west Fort Worth, and remain there through mid-summer.

More advertisements and elements will be released throughout the spring and summer, all with a goal of educating the community about MMBNT and donor human milk. We are so thankful for this support from the North Texas Community Foundation, and if you spot one of our ads while you’re out and about, be sure to snap a photo and let us know!

Staff Profile: Mary Ashley

marayTue, 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.

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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.

Nutritional Analysis, Explained

marayWed, 01/25/2017 - 6:06 pm
Lindsey runs sample in nutritional analyzer
Lab supervisor Lindsey runs a sample in the nutritional analyzer.

In the pasteurization lab at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, accuracy and attention to detail are essential to processing donor human milk. One main step in the process is nutritional analysis, which helps staff determine how to classify the milk.

After milk is thawed and mixed, a sample of each individual donor’s milk is tested. The analyzer evaluates macronutrient content using an automated full-spectrum laser spectroscopy, which is calibrated to USDA standards. These calibrations are designed specifically for human milk. The analysis measures fat, protein, and lactose for each donor’s milk.

These measurements are used to determine how milk can be pooled. After each pool has been pasteurized, a sample is once again analyzed to determine the final macronutrient content and the calories per ounce. Hospitals use this information to ensure the babies they treat are receiving the proper calories and nutrients to grow.

Nutritional analysis provides vital information for both MMBNT and hospital staff. With this information, critically ill infants can receive the nourishment they need from donor human milk.

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

Remembering Angel Babies on Carmen's Tree

marayTue, 01/17/2017 - 7:31 pm
Carmen's Tree

Moms have a variety of reasons for choosing to become milk donors. Oftentimes, a mom produces more milk than her own baby needs and decides to help others with her oversupply. However, there are many moms who donate after the loss of their own baby.

Faced with tremendous grief, these mothers often have to address the process of lactation as well. Childbirth stimulates hormones that tell your body to make milk, even after a loss. Donating this milk in memory of a child can become part of the healing process.

“It helps them cope with their loss,” Samantha Suarez, MMBNT donor coordinator, said. “They are helping other moms who are not able to provide breastmilk to their own babies.”

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Close-up of leaves on Carmen's Tree

At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, these babies are honored on Carmen’s Tree. Located in the lobby, Carmen’s Tree is named after the baby of MMBNT’s first bereaved donor, Angela Mendoza. Each leaf on the tree bears the name and birth date of a baby whose mother donated in their memory. Additionally, each family receives a matching leaf.

“Carmen’s Tree gives donors something to look back on and honor what they’ve done by donating through their loss,” Samantha said.

Each person who passes through the doors at MMBNT sees this special memorial and is reminded of the selfless gift these mothers have given. It is a constant reminder of the strength of these donors and their ability to help others even after a tragic loss of their own. The MMBNT family is thankful for these donors and all that they do to help babies in need.

For more information about becoming a donor, click here.