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.

2016 in Review

marayTue, 01/03/2017 - 5:36 pm
757 approved donors

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas experienced another great year of helping babies in need in 2016. Once again, the number of ounces dispensed increased from the previous year, meaning infants received more MMBNT donor milk than ever before.

In 2016, donor coordinators approved 757 milk donors. These moms learned about milk donation on social media, at hospitals, from their friends and in many other ways. Outreach to potential donors is important, as mothers are only breastfeeding for a limited time and new donors are always needed. MMBNT has a strong online presence, including the website and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, to connect with donors and potential donors in ways that are convenient for them. Additionally, hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics and depots distribute new mom packets to inform potential donors of milk donation.

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564,055 ounces dispensed

We dispensed 564,055 ounces of donor human milk in 2016. That’s more than 11,000 more ounces than in 2015, continuing the trend of increasing dispensation every year. Eighty percent of our donor milk was dispensed by physician prescription in 131 hospital NICUs, while 20 percent was prescribed to medically fragile babies at home. For the babies we serve, donor milk can be lifesaving. It is the standard of care for premature infants with severe feeding problems, intestinal malformations and life-threatening complications such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Additionally, we added 6 new depots in 2016. These include several added in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and even one in Georgia. These locations make milk donation convenient for donor moms who don’t live near the MMBNT office. Moms can drop off their donations to their local depots, which safely store the milk in a designated freezer until it is picked up or sent to MMBNT.

We’re thankful for a successful 2016, and are looking forward to helping even more babies in 2017!

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

Staff Profile: Natalie

marayWed, 12/28/2016 - 8:12 pm
Natalie in the office

For Natalie, working with breastfeeding mothers and babies runs in the family. Her mother is a lactation consultant, so she knew of the benefits of breastmilk long before joining the staff at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. Now, she uses that knowledge and her own expertise to help others.

MMBNT’s recent growth has allowed Natalie to work in various facets of milk bank operations, but she now holds the title of Recipient Coordinator. In this role, she serves as a primary liaison between MMBNT and all outpatient donor milk recipients.

She spends much of her day updating outpatient files, which includes calling recipients’ parents and talking to them about their children’s progress and answering any questions they may have. When onboarding a new recipient, she will spend time gathering paperwork, recording medical information and introducing the recipient’s parents to the world of using donor milk.

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Milk bottle being scanned before shipment
Natalie often helps pack orders for hospitals and outpatients.

This position has become increasingly important as the recipient program has expanded. “Since I started working, the number of outpatient recipients we have has tripled,” Natalie said.

While most of her day focuses on recipients, Natalie does help when things get busy in the logging and packing rooms. She is always willing to log in recently received milk donations, or assist with packing orders to be sent to hospitals and outpatients. That is one thing she enjoys about working at MMBNT – there is never a dull moment, and there is always something to work on or help with.

The close-knit and supportive community of employees is something Natalie finds special to MMBNT. “Although we all have very different areas of expertise, we all work together for one important mission,” she said.

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

The Basics of Being a Donor

marayWed, 12/07/2016 - 7:43 pm
Donor mom Shanita and MMBNT staff Courtney
Donor mom, Shanita (left) and Program Assistant, Courtney (right).

Milk donors are at the core of Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, selflessly giving their excess breastmilk to babies in need. Moms become donors for a variety of reasons; some are former NICU parents who want to help babies like their own; some have lost their babies and continue to pump breastmilk to donate in memory of their children; others are overproducers and want to do good in the community.

When a mom wants to become a donor, she starts the screening process by completing a phone interview with an MMBNT donor coordinator. This interview covers health information for both mom and baby, and determines donor eligibility. Then, she fills out a detailed medical history form. The final step in the screening process is to complete a blood draw, which MMBNT pays for. The blood draw screens for several conditions, including HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

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Huguley Hospital depot
Staff at Texas Health Huguley with donations from their depot.

Once all the screening steps are complete, a donor mom can be approved. While MMBNT is located in Fort Worth, Texas, donors come from all over. The geographic diversity of donors is similar to that of the hospitals and outpatients served, and MMBNT strives to create a convenient experience no matter where donors live.

Donor moms who live in or near Fort Worth often drop off their donations in person, directly to MMBNT. Staff love to meet donors and show them around the office, including the lab, where donors can see processing and pasteurization as it happens.

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Donor milk shipped to MMBNT
Donor milk shipped to MMBNT.

If MMBNT is not a convenient location, there are more than 40 collection sites, known as depots, where moms can drop off their donations. These include hospitals, WIC clinics, and other sites equipped to safely store milk donations until they can be picked up. Most depots are in Texas, but there are also locations in Arkansas, Florida and Georgia.

While most donors utilize one of these two options, there are still some who don’t have a depot near them. For these moms, the donor coordinators will send them materials to safely ship their milk to MMBNT overnight.

Milk donors are the heroes of the milk bank. At MMBNT, we are so thankful for their dedication to the mission of helping critically ill infants. If you are interested in becoming a donor, click here.