Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank seeks donors

PITTSBURGH — During 2021, Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank distributed its millionth ounce of pasteurized human donor milk since its January 2016 birth — further establishing itself as the region’s leading source for this critical nutrition — thanks to nearly 2,000 carefully screened volunteer donors.

As the pandemic continues, demand remains strong for donor breast milk, which is proven to be the best alternative when mothers’ own milk is not available, especially for premature babies or those with medical issues.

“Due to growing evidence of the importance of human milk for all newborns, we have seen a marked increase in the demand for donor milk,” said Denise O’Connor, executive director, Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank. “We distributed a record-high 294,334 ounces of pasteurized donor milk in 2021 and are seeing demand rise among Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) and outpatients with medical issues. The pandemic may be driving some of the current need, as increased NICU use of donor milk is being reported in many parts of the world, including here in Pennsylvania. Right now, we are seeing a 25% increase in NICU use compared to this time last year.”

Donor milk is provided by carefully screened volunteer donor moms and is bottled, pasteurized, and tested to ensure safety for babies receiving it. Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank strictly adheres to the policies of its accrediting organization, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, and is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Pasteurized donor human milk provides critical nutrients, immunological support for medically fragile babies and is the standard of care in the region’s NICUs. While babies in the NICU are the primary recipients, donor milk use is increasing for outpatients with significant medical issues, and even healthy babies, both in the Mother-Baby Units and in the early days at home if supplementation is necessary due to its medical benefits and promotion of healthy gut bacteria.

“Donor milk is essential for vulnerable babies; it’s not just nutrition, it’s medicine,” O’Connor added. “We are grateful that so many across our region have stepped up to donate their breast milk. The need is still there — and growing — so we are encouraging all moms who already supply enough milk for their own babies and are ready to clear some room in their freezer of stored milk, to join the dedicated corps of donors who support the nutrition of the neediest babies.”

The nonprofit Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank is the leading provider of donor milk in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and has distributed donated milk to tens of thousands of babies across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

Interested donors are encouraged to learn more about donation at midatlanticmilkbank.org. To begin the screening process, prospective donors should contact the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank team via phone 412-281-4400 or email info@midatlanticmilkbank.org.


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