Milk Depot

Patricia Hagan, right, a lactation consultant at Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, talks to Allison Ball on Aug. 10, 2017. Ball was dropping off a donation of breast milk to be sent to Mother's Milk Bank in Austin.

Janice Gibbs | FME News Service

TEMPLE — Allison Ball dropped off her excess breast milk earlier this month in the labor and delivery department at Scott & White Medical Center-Temple where a milk depot has been set up for Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin.

Ball, a Baylor Scott & White employee, had heard about a milk depot opening at the hospital, which is much more convenient than taking drop-offs to Waco.

With her first child, Ball barely produced enough milk for her baby.

“This time, for whatever reason, I’m an over producer,” she said. “My freezer filled up, my outside freezer filled up, so I went online and began asking friends what to do,” she said.

Ball wanted to donate to a milk bank that serves Neonatal Intensive Care Units because she has had friends who have lost babies or have had babies in a NICU for extended periods of time.

“It’s my way of helping them from afar,” she said. “I knew Austin had the largest milk bank in the world.”

Patricia Hagan, lactation consultant at Scott & White Medical Center, said the consultants help the moms with breast feeding when they are in the hospital, offer breast feeding classes to the community and assist new mothers by meeting with them a couple of days following the birth.

Later on, if the moms are having issues with the babies not gaining weight or the baby not breast feeding, they can call, make an appointment and the consultants will work with them, Hagan said.

Setting up the local deport was the idea of Kristin Hull, a lactation consultant.

Mothers who aren’t using their milk or can’t use all of the milk they are producing can bring excess breast milk to Scott & White Medical Center. It is stored in a freezer until it’s picked up by the Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin.

The mothers are screened in a process that is similar to what is used for blood donors. They are given a donor number that is used on all their donations.

The milk is pasteurized at the milk bank in Austin and then redistributed to hospitals that purchase the milk.

Only a small percentage of the milk’s beneficial properties are destroyed by the pasteurization process. Research shows the method of pasteurization used at the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin preserves about 70 percent of the immune factors that help protect babies from illness. Before pasteurized milk is dispensed, bacteriological testing is done to ensure its safety, according to the Austin milk bank

“It’s primarily used for premature babies, usually between 22 weeks and 30 weeks, and medically fragile infants,” Hagan said.

Preemies don’t tolerate formula well so these donations are life-saving, she said.

Mother’s milk is the ideal food, but sometimes the mother isn’t able to produce what is needed and that’s when donor milk is used.

Now that there is a Temple location it is much easier to donate and Ball said she would encourage anyone to donate any milk pumped prior to their child’s first birthday.

“Even if your child is over the age of 1, if you have leftover stored milk please donate it, it’s better than pouring it down the drain,” Allison Ball said.

Ball pumps her milk at home and at work. When she gets home she writes the date, time and the number of ounces on the container and immediately puts it in the freezer.

Breast milk can be stored in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator for six months, and for a year in a deep freezer.

Dawn Reagan, a nurse in the labor and delivery department, adopted a 48-hour-old baby girl a little over two years ago.

“We were given breast milk, and if this program had been available I definitely would have utilized it for my baby,” she said.

The milk donations are truly gifts, providing milk to babies of mothers who can’t, Reagan said.

The depot at Scott & White opened in May and has since received donation is excess of 2,000 ounces, or about 15 gallons.

Other milk depots in the area are Waco and Bryan.

For information on the program, call 254-724-4867.

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