Did you just wean your child and still have some milk stashed in the freezer? Was a friend just lamenting dumping all that she worked so hard to pump? Listen up! The nonprofit Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast collects, pasteurizes and distributes breast milk to hospitals to literally help save the lives of babies in critical health throughout the region. They’ll help donors ship milk at no charge, but the organization just opened its first drop-off depot in Manhattan, where donors can now deliver milk in person.
Milk Bank Basics
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast operates under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and provides donated, pasteurized human milk to babies in fragile health throughout the northeast. In many cases, human breast milk is the only thing these pre-term babies can digest, given their underdeveloped digestive systems.
The organization follows strict guidelines for screening, processing and dispensing as determined in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the blood and tissue banking industries. It currently distributes to six hospitals in the New York City area, with more to be added in the future.
Who Gets It?
Pasteurized donor human milk is dispensed by prescription only, and the highest-priority recipients are premature and ill, hospitalized infants, often in NICU facilities.
Human milk helps prevent necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, a disease that attacks the intestinal tract, damaging or destroying it and requiring surgery to repair or remove all or part of the intestines. The stats are pretty striking: 1.5% of preterm infants fed human milk acquire NEC, while 10-17 percent of preterm infants fed formula acquire NEC. Babies who acquire NEC may die or develop lifelong complications.
The Depot Deets
Women can choose to ship donor milk at no charge via express perishable shipping services, but some prefer to deliver it in person. That’s where the Milk Depot, or drop-off center comes in, and Kips Bay’s Explore + Discover Early Learning Center is now Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast’s first drop-off location in Manhattan. (The only other one in the NYC area is at the Brooklyn Birthing Center in Midwood.)
Explore + Discover’s president Daniel Koffler explains that as a center dedicated to early childhood development — which already provides a pumping room for nursing moms and hosts La Leche meetings — serving as a Milk Depot made a lot of sense. The center now has its very own secure refrigerator to house donations prior to pickup.
How To Donate
So, whether you’ve got a stash of unused breastmilk in the freezer, have an oversupply, or just want to do a good deed, contact MMBNE. (Milk stored in a household freezer is good for three months, while milk stored in a separate, deep freezer is good for six.)
Donor screening is similar, if not a bit more rigorous than blood donor screening. You can read more about screening and becoming a donor here.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast
Explore + Discover Early Learning Center
444 Second Ave. (at 26th St.)
Have you donated to or received milk through MMBNE? Tell us about your experience in the comments!