SC breast milk bank donations spike in face of baby formula shortage. Here’s how to get some

·3 min read

A South Carolina breast milk bank will offer supply to the general public after it had a recent jump in donations in response to the nationwide baby formula shortage.

Mother’s Milk Bank, a nonprofit developed by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), has seen a recent 20% to 25% increase in donations, according to a press release from the university. With the extra supply, the breast milk bank says it can expand its offerings as some families are suffering to feed their babies due to the formula shortage.

“Our primary purpose is to help serve the NICU community,” said milk bank manager Lindsay Millonzi, referring to hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units. “However, right now, with an increase in donations, we are able to also have that service available to families who might need donor milk.”

The announcement comes just days after four South Carolina babies were hospitalized because of the baby formula shortage.

Families interested in buying from the milk bank can apply on its website (fill out the “get involved” form and look for the “I am interested in” option) or call 843-792-5415 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. Once families reach out, a milk bank team member will call to go over requirements and the process.

A rigorous process must be undertaken before any donations are accepted at the breast milk bank.

“When a mom has an oversupply of breast milk, she will reach out to us through our website or call,” Millonzi said. “And the first step is a 15-minute phone screening where we discuss pertinent information like lifestyle, health and medications.”

If the mom meets the criteria, she then must complete a packet consisting of more health and lifestyle questions, Millonzi added. Once that’s done and submitted, the donor mom’s OB-GYN is asked to complete a form, recommending her as a donor. Then the mother must take a blood test paid for by the milk bank.

“Finally, one of our team members, along with the director, will review the whole chart, from the phone screening, the paperwork, the OB-GYN form, the lab work, make sure everything is within our guidelines,” Millonzi said. “Once mom is approved, we send out a donor packet. And in that donor packet, it will let her know where to donate.”

There are depots all over the state for milk drop-offs. But Millonzi said vetting the women who contribute through them isn’t the only thorough aspect of the milk bank’s system.

“Once the milk is on-site, it’s carefully processed and pasteurized by the lab technicians,” she said. “Following pasteurization, the milk is tested for bacteria to ensure safety and quality.”

Milk that passes the test is then ready for when a hospital — or, now, a qualified family — puts in a request.

Millonzi thanked the women who have donated their extra breast milk to help other families.

“Without them, this wouldn’t be possible,” she said. “They love the idea of South Carolina moms helping other South Carolina families and babies.”

The milk bank, the only one in South Carolina, is accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, one of 31 milk banks across the country that are part of the association.