Human Milk Donation: One of the most rewarding experiences of my life!

My milk donation journey was short and sweet. My youngest baby was born August 4th, 2020 and I donated my final box of milk on December 14th. I chose formal milk sharing through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) because I wanted to be a part of their vision. The closest milk bank to my location was the Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida, whose mission is “to provide safe human donor milk for babies in need.” I followed the link “start the donation process” from the FAQ page on their website milkbankofflorida.org. Being in excellent health and a non-smoker were just a couple of the criteria for applying. After submitting my application the following steps included: a telephone interview, a secure online health questionnaire, obtaining permission forms from both my midwife and my baby’s pediatrician, and lastly a FREE blood screening. This process moved along rather quickly and when I was ready the milk bank mailed me a shipping box with complete step-by-step instructions on preparing my milk for shipment and how exactly to schedule pick-up from my home location. There are drop off donation locations across North America but not currently any locations near me.

The Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida was quick to send instructions, donor labels, replacement storage bags and the shipping box with a pre-paid Fed-Ex label. The first box included instructions on everything from how to schedule an appointment at the nearest lab to where I could purchase dry ice for shipping. It detailed every step of the packaging process. I just caution anyone to pay close attention as to not skip any steps. The milk bank goes above and beyond to ensure your precious milk is packaged properly and cared for along the way. The only expense upfront was the purchase of dry ice (minimum 6 pounds per shipment). I spent $18 and was quickly reimbursed the full amount by check just days after the milk bank received my shipment. *Don’t forget to ask your local grocer to place the dry ice inside 1 or 2 paper grocery sacks. (This will be necessary for preparing shipment). Also, be sure to pick up the dry ice the morning you wish to send your shipment. When your package is all set, you’d immediately call the # provided to schedule pick up from your location. It’s truly a simple process that gets easier each time.

In total I donated 300 oz (I believe 150 oz is the minimum per shipment) and the Milk Bank was generous enough to provide updates along the way. They shared with me which hospital received my donation and that many 3oz bottles were prepared for many, many NICU babies. I feel very fortunate to have had enough milk for my own baby and have milk to share for those babies in need. This process was surprisingly more personable than local informal donating, which I had done prior. The milk bank allowed me to feel like I was a part of something bigger, saving lives in fact! Being kept in the loop allowed me to experience this journey to the fullest without feeling like I was just another donor with a different # assigned. It truly was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I want to encourage anyone who meets the criteria and has milk to share to contact the milk bank. Links below!

Resources:
Mothers' Milk Bank of Florida
Finding an HBMANA milk bank