URGENT CALL FOR HUMAN MILK DONATIONS FOR HAITI INFANTS
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States
Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant
Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and
La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for
human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and
premature infants in the United States.
This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States
will be shipped to the U.S. Navy Ship "Comfort" stationed outside Haiti.
"Comfort" is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and
medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S.
Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment
and supplies to the "Comfort." Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric
neonatologist, is on board the "Comfort" to coordinate distribution of the
milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLL are responding to
requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who
have recently delivered babies on board the U.S.N.S. Comfort, but an urgent
need exists for additional donations.
At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk on land to
Haiti infants has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure
is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.
Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional
Mothers' Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available at
the HMBANA website at www.hmbana.org.
Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will
be used for both Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to
continue to serve sick and premature infants in the U.S. Donor milk provides
unique protection for fragile preterm infants. Financial donations are also
strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue
serving infants in need.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and
medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be
used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due
to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend
on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief
workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide
support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding,
and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining
For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 or
provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132
Thank you so much for your inquiry re donating milk. Re your interest in Haiti donations, our available information changes hour by hour, it seems! At the time I’m writing this email, we have been informed that HMBANA Milk Banks (we are one) will be providing milk to the US Naval ship docked in Haiti operating as a “floating hospital” for earthquake survivors. So far, the Mother’s Milk Bank of Denver has not received a call for milk to be sent to Haiti. I actually do not know for certain when or if that will happen. In the meantime, we are gratefully accepting donors whose milk will be used for recipients in the United States. When or if we get the call for milk to Haiti, we will quickly respond with whatever available donor milk we have on hand.
There is a minimum donation requirement of 150 oz of milk to offset our cost of testing your blood and processing the milk. We are accepting milk as old as May 2009, as of this writing.
You can go through the initial phone screening by calling 303-869-1888. If you meet the eligibility criteria, we’ll send a packet of information and futher medical history questions for you to answer, then we send you the shipping supplies for a blood draw to be done in Utah, and the Fed Ex shipping supplies to send milk.
Our donors must be healthy, non-smoking mothers of infants under the age of 1 yr. You must have been on no medication (this includes herbs as well) while pumping your milk unless it is cleared through us first. Exceptions are: insulin, prenatal vitamins, thyroid replacement , progestin-only birth control, minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron, and food supplements such as DHA and fish oil (omega 3).
Thank you for your interest and your compassion in helping babies in need. If you feel you might be eligible and have the minimum donation amount required to become a donor, you can call and speak with any staff member to begin the screening process.
Karen Wilson, RN, IBCLC
We are desperately in need of more milk for the Denver area Mother’s Milk Bank – our freezers are running on empty most days lately, and I know there are many compassionate mothers (especially through LLL) who would love the chance to help a baby in need. I wish there was more infrastructure available and a more organized relief effort in Haiti so that we could reliably take milk for use in that country. In the meantime, financial donations to organizations that support infant and children feeding programs are most effective in supporting breastfeeding moms in Haiti so that they can continue to provide mother’s milk for their own children rather than rely on “donations” (aka advertisements) of artificial mother’s milk (see www.hmbana.org for websites). This is a serious problem during every international crisis in which breastfeeding is at risk. Fortunately, there will be some donor milk available on the USS Comfort (“the floating hospital”) immediately for those preemies and seriously ill babies receiving care there. The generous women of the Dominican Republic are also donating their milk to the survivors of Haiti, so hopefully the situation will stabilize sooner rather than later.