Breast milk bank hosting donation drive to get more human milk for sick babies

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - When disaster strikes one of the first calls for support is for people to donate blood.  A different kind of local bank is also looking for people to donate a liquid lifesaver, breast milk.

The Milk Bank and Community Hospital South have teamed up to put on Indianapolis' first breast milk donor drive.

It's often referred to as liquid gold. Researchers say it's the best primary source of nutrients for infants, but not all women are a gold mine when it comes to producing breast milk. So, that's where the milk bank comes in.

"Our primary recipients are really the most fragile babies within the NICU. They can be premature, they may bed struggling with complications of being premature," Director of Clinical Operations Sarah Long said.

Many neonatal intensive care units in Indiana and surrounding states buy donor milk from the milk bank to have on hand for babies in need.

Lactation consultants say moms with NICU babies often have a hard time producing breast milk due to factors like stress. So they’re looking for healthy, lactating moms who do have enough breast milk to share.

There's a verbal and written screening to make sure a donor qualifies.

"We do ask lifestyle choices in terms if they're a smoker. Typically, we cannot accept smokers. There are certain medications we can and cannot accept," Long said.

The milk is processed at the bank and goes through even more testing before a baby ever gets it.

"We do send a sample off for microbiology testing to ensure that this milk is in fact there's no growth, there's no risk of any bacteria," Long said.

Nursing mom Jami Marvin knows first hand what's on the line, so she decided to give back.

"We're talking about saving babies here. We're not talking about healthy babies that are at home and you know with their smiling baby pictures we all love to see. We're  Talking about the sickest of the sick. We're talking about babies that were born at a pound or less. And this is the way we can help them fight to stay alive," Marvin said.

The milk bank follows a non-profit model.

There is a processing fee if a family needs to purchase milk outside a hospital. The first donor drive is Thursday January 24 at The Milk Bank. 5060 E. 62nd St., Suite 128 Indianapolis, IN 46220

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