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Milk Collection and Outreach Centers and Milk Banks

Donor milk is a way for a baby to receive human milk if a mother is unable to provide her own milk for her own baby. It is particularly beneficial, and may be life-saving, for a premature baby. According to a joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “The best food for any baby whose own mother’s milk is not available is the breastmilk of another healthy mother.”

Milk Banks collect, screen, pasteurize and dispense donor human milk. Milk Collection and Outreach Centers (aka Milk Depots) are locations where mothers can donate their milk. Neither Lincoln nor Omaha have a Milk Bank, but they both have Milk Depots. The closest Milk Banks are in Iowa City, Iowa, and Denver, Colorado.

Local Milk Depots include:

The Process to Donate Milk

If you are interested in donating your breast milk to a Milk Bank, please contact the Milk Bank associated with the Milk Depot you plan to use. The Milk Bank will interview you over the phone to discuss your lifestyle, medication use, and lactation history. There are certain criteria approved by the Human Milk Banks of North America (HMBANA) that will keep a Milk Bank from accepting milk from a mother. They include:  

  • A mother who has a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, hepatitis B or C, or syphilis.
  • If a mother, or her sexual partner, are at risk for HIV.
  • A mother who uses illegal drugs, smokes or uses tobacco products, or regularly drinks 2 ounces or more of alcohol per day.
  • A mother who has received an organ or tissue transplant, or has had a blood transfusion in the last twelve months.
  • A mother who has been in the United Kingdom for more than three months, or in Europe for more than five years, since 1980.
  • A mother who was born in, or has traveled to, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria.

Once you are approved through the interview process, the Milk Bank will schedule a location and time for you to have your blood tested and will assign you a donor number.

The Milk Bank will provide you with storage containers and instructions on storing your pumped milk. Milk Banks prefer that you donate at least a total of 150 ounces of milk while you are breastfeeding your baby, up to one year of age. There is no minimum or maximum amount per donation. Milk pumped prior to screening will be accepted if you are approved to be a donor through the interview process.

Once donated milk is received at a Milk Bank, the milk from three to five donors is pooled together and thoroughly mixed to ensure an even distribution of milk components. The milk is then gently pasteurized, with 97% of the milk components remaining. The milk is tested for bacteria growth through the pasteurization process. Any contaminated milk is discarded. The milk is tested once more after pasteurization is complete, frozen, and then stored, ready to be shipped. It usually has an expiration date six months out. Pasteurized donor milk is shipped overnight on dry ice to keep it frozen.

MilkWorks keeps a small amount of frozen pasteurized banked donor milk on site. We purchase it from the Denver Milk Bank for use during consultations. We make limited amounts of banked donor milk available for purchase by parents at no mark up.  Most area hospitals make banked donor milk available for babies who meet certain medical need criteria.

May 2017