When Stacy Kinnen, of Bemidji, began researching a way to donate a surplus of her breast milk, the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies (MMBB) directed her to Tri-County Health Care’s Milk Depot. The Milk Depot, which opened in January, sent its first shipment to the milk bank last week and will be scheduling another in the near future after Stacy drove an hour and a half to donate 1,500 ounces of milk.
This milk is vitally important for premature and sick babies, who are more vulnerable to infections if they are fed formula. Research from the United States Food and Drug Administration shows that preterm babies fed human milk from screened donors have fewer infections, less severe complications and shorter hospitalizations, allowing families to be reunited sooner. There are also times when a mother is unable to produce enough breast milk to feed her baby. When this happens, donor milk can provide the benefits necessary to help babies grow and thrive.
That is why Tri-County Health Care’s partnership with the MMBB is a valuable asset for mothers looking to donate their extra breast milk to share their gift with an infant in need.
“The mothers are thrilled to make a difference because they all can relate to the fear of having a sick or ill baby when they’re pregnant or giving birth,” said Sarah Riedel, Tri-County Health Care OB Supervisor, RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST. “They take pride in doing what they can to help mothers with premature or sick babies and aid them during a stressful time.”
Tri-County Health Care’s Milk Depot is the most northern location in central Minnesota, making it convenient for mothers to make a donation. There have been inquiring donors from as far as Thief River Falls, which is two and a half hours away.
The first shipment of donor milk was recently sent to the milk bank and a second isn’t far behind after Stacy’s donation. People are invited to call Sarah with any questions regarding how they can donate to the milk depot.
“I thought when we opened, it would be mothers in our area looking to donate. Now we have donors driving hours to be able to support these babies in need,” Sarah said. “Any mothers interested in donating can call me with questions. I am more than happy to help them through the process.”
What is the donation process?
- To sign up to be a donor, contact the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies at mnmilkbank.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-546-8051.
- Complete a verbal screening. You will speak to the donor coordinator and answer some health and lifestyle questions. You will talk about your diet, pump patterns and overall health.
- Complete a written screening form. All donors will complete a written application that asks for details about their health and household. Once the completed documents are signed and received, MMBB will contact your provider for approval.
- MMBB will cover the cost of blood testing and arrange this for you. You may have the test done at Tri-County Health Care. Call 218-631-3510 to make an appointment.
- Once approved, you will receive a Donor ID. This means you are ready to drop off milk. Contact Tri-County Health Care’s lactation consultant, Sarah Riedel, RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST at 218-632-8741 to set up an appointment to drop off your frozen milk or if you have any questions.