Viewing entries tagged
Milk Donation

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

What do you do when you’re on bed rest for seven weeks? Well, not much, according to Lynn Parkhurst. “I just laid there. I learned how to crochet. I caught up on a lot of shows,” the Wisconsin mom of two said. Both of her…

Donor and Recipient Testimonial Video

This semester, two Purdue students Sydney Rivera and Taylor Moehling put together a short testimonial video about the power of giving and receiving breast milk donations at The Milk Bank. The video features two incredible women, Olivia Cammack and Lauren Duncan.

After a re-diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, cancer treatments prevented Olivia from breastfeeding her son Kenneth III just three weeks after his birth. She received donor milk from The Milk Bank a few days before running out of her own pumped supply and was thankfully able to feed her son exclusively with expressed breast milk.

Lauren donated her milk through The Milk Bank's bereavement program, Garrett's Gift, after her son Michael passed away in 2011. Now, she is a donor mother coordinator at The Milk Bank.

Check out and share the video about how meaningful and impactful donating breast milk is for so many infants and families in need.

NEW Milk Analysis Process at The Milk Bank


The Milk Bank continually seeks to provide the highest quality of safe Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) to infants in most need. We know that the variability of nutritional content of donor milk can be a concern for the adequate growth of fragile infants. We are pleased to be able to provide nutritional analysis of PDHM for each target pool of donor milk. We intentionally mix donors’ milk in volume-specific ways to obtain a minimum of 20 calories per ounce for hospital clients.

Each bottle of milk now contains a label that lists overall caloric content and protein content. To determine and verify these values, milk is tested from each pool of donor milk. Our equipment reads fat, lactose, and protein content of the milk, allowing for specific pooling of milk to ensure adequate calories and protein content. Knowledge of the nutritional content of milk will:

  1. allow for targeting milk for specific babies and
  2. determine specific fortification processes.

While this does not replace the process of monitoring babies’ individual growth, it is an extra tool to ensure optimum nutrients for fragile infants in hospital care. We’re happy to share there will be no increase in the purchase cost for all of our PDHM.

Do you have questions about our new process we can help answer? Email us at!

Featured Recipient Story: Olivia Cammack

By Olivia Cammack, December 2017

My name is Olivia Cammack, I am 29 years old and I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I studied Early Childhood Education/Child Development at Tennessee State University in Nashville and have worked as a nanny ever since college. I have always loved children and couldn’t wait to be a mother. I met my husband in January of 2014, we were married in June of 2017 and gave birth to our son in July of 2017. I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January of 2016 and was declared in remission in June of 2016. I was diagnosed with the same thing the second time in February of 2017 (also 3 months pregnant). To make a long story short, both the baby and I had a safe, healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery.  I breastfed our son for his first three weeks of life and then I had to begin cancer treatment once again. Before I had him, I always wanted to only give our son the most natural, healthy options (breast milk, homemade baby food, organic solid foods, etc.) so I couldn’t be more grateful for The Milk Bank and how they have provided for my son since I no longer can (due to the medicines being put in my body).

I feel it’s important to give my baby donor human milk because it gives him everything that he needs at such an early stage in his life. It gives him antibodies that help him fight off anything that he’s not supposed to have and will help keep him from getting sick while it’s life threatening. Also, there are so many bad things in formula. The main thing that stands out to me is sugar. I want my son to have as little sugar as possible because it is empty calories and can contribute to all kinds of diseases in his future.


It’s hard for me to put into words how much the gift of donor milk means to me. It means the world to me! I was devastated when I found out I would no longer be able to breastfeed my son especially because it was going so well. When my doula informed me of The Milk Bank I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. I was so happy that there was another food option besides formula to give my newborn son.

People should support the mission of The Milk Bank because there are parents/caregivers out there who want to give their children the best life has to offer. As a newborn, babies need breast milk, but that’s not an option for some parents/caregivers. Whether it be medical reasons, adoption or premature babies (or many, many more) The Milk Bank gives us the opportunity to give our children exactly what they need even when we can’t. I appreciate The Milk Bank, it’s employees, volunteers, supporters and last but not least the mothers who donate the breast milk out of the goodness of their hearts tremendously and don’t know where I would be without them. You make the world a better place and so many of us are so grateful for all that you do! Thank you!

Donor story: Donor mom comes full circle with her act of love

Donor story: Donor mom comes full circle with her act of love

When Amber Lumpkin delivered her children, Gavin, 7, and Bella, 5, things went as expected. However, when her 8-month-old son Jasper was born the delivery wasn’t like his older siblings. “It was kind of a different road when Jasper was born,” she said. Born at…

Donor story: Oversupply of love

What do you do when you have an oversupply of breastmilk? You donate it to The Milk Bank, of course.     After filling all her freezers, Wisconsin resident and mom of two, Jessica Safransky Schacht said an internet search is what led her to…

From recipient to donor

From recipient to donor

Our job is to receive milk, pasteurize it and ship it to hospitals who give it to sick infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. While we know donor milk is the next best thing when mom’s milk is not available, we rarely get to hear from…

Donor story: Pushing herself toward the goal

Donor story: Pushing herself toward the goal

Support and determination are two words Lindsey Seitz can relate to. The first-time mom to 10-month-old son, Houston, said she didn’t know much about breastfeeding, let alone being a milk donor, but she was determined to do both.   “After ten month of extreme dedication,…

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

What do you do when you’re on bed rest for seven weeks? Well, not much, according to Lynn Parkhurst. “I just laid there. I learned how to crochet. I caught up on a lot of shows,” the Wisconsin mom of two said. Both of her…

Why Do We Pasteurize Breast Milk Donations?

We are often asked, “Why do you pasteurize your milk donations?” The simple answer is this: because pasteurization kills the bad while retaining the good. But that answer doesn’t always satisfy those that think breastmilk is best raw form. While generally, we agree: breastmilk is best untouched, our mission is to provide donor milk to the population of infants who are most susceptible to infection. It’s our job to provide the best nutrition while ensuring we do no harm. Both the American College of Pediatricians and the Center for Disease Control recommend pasteurized human donor milk if mother’s own milk is unavailable and that means we have a responsibility to ensure proper procedures.

Before we pasteurize milk donations, we first make sure that our donors are free of communicable diseases and are generally healthy with limited medication use. We require a blood test for all our milk donors to check for HIV, HTLV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B &C. We make sure our donors maintain lifestyles that are compatible for donation- they are a non-smoker, aren’t taking a medication that will affect a premature baby and pump and store their milk in a safe way.


But what about the milk itself? What in the milk is killed during pasteurization and what is maintained?


First, let’s talk about what is retained.

  • The enzyme that destroys bacteria by disrupting their cell walls retains 75 percent of its activity. Lysozyme, with many other bioactive components, allow a baby to create their own immunity in their urinary tract. Meaning, babies fed breast milk are less likely to develop a urinary tract infection.
  • Oligosaccharides, a complex chain of sugars unique to human milk are unchanged by pasteurization. You might be wondering, why are these sugars important? They exist to feed the tiny organisms that make up a baby's digestive system. In fact, some researchers believe that human milk was evolved to be more protective than to provide nutrition.
  • 70 percent of the concentrated IgA antibodies are also retained through pasteurization. These are the antibodies to things like E. coli, group B streptococci and Brucella abortus, all bacteria that can be harmful, if not deadly to a preterm infant.


So, how does breastmilk change when pasteurized?

  • The good news is, not much changes! Well, aside from the things we want to change like the elimination of pathogens and viruses.
  • Some of you might have heard about lipase or have experienced high amounts of it in your own frozen milk, pasteurization inactivates the enzyme.


Our final step to ensure sure the milk we are sending to the most fragile infants is completely safe involves testing for potential bacteria. Each batch has a random sample checked by an independent lab that performs a 48- hour culture to check that all potential pathogens and viruses are destroyed.


If you have a question you would like answered, email us  at or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.



Bereavement Donation, Healing through Milk Donation

Bereavement Donation

 Healing through Milk Donation

Sarah Long, IBCLC, Clinical Coordinator, The Milk Bank


Far too often, the mom calling us for information about breastmilk donation has just gone through an unimaginable experience; the loss of a child. A child their body had planned to care for, to nurture. A baby, who might have spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a mom who likely had worked very hard to ensure her baby has the best; breast milk.


When that baby is gone, it can be difficult for a mom to know what to do with what milk she might have left over. Her body will likely take some time to adjust to her baby being gone. Breast milk donation can help a grieving mother to have a reason to pump. Donation can help a family feel as though something good can come from their heartbreak.


“Donating filled my heart with such excitement and joy because I knew I was helping these fragile little preemies in honor of my sweet son.”


– Sheri Rukavina on donating after the loss of her son. 




Bereavement donation Ameda Collage



We strive to make becoming a Milk Donor after the loss of a child as easy as possible. We do not require a minimum donation for a bereavement donor but do ask that they submit to our screening process and communicable disease testing if they would like for their donation to be used for inpatients. If the screening and testing are too much for a bereavement donor, we will accept their donation for research. Either way, their milk donations are important and potentially life changing.

In an effort to support a grieving family, we are lucky to have a partner in Amēda, who has given us three hospital grade pumps that we are able to lend to a mom who does not have access to a pump and needs one. These pumps have allowed us to provide even more convenience to a family.

If you know a family who had recently experienced a loss and would like more information about becoming a milk donor, we are happy to speak to them. We can be reached at 877.829.7470 or there is more information here.

We want to hear from you. Has becoming a Milk Donor helped you through the loss of a child?


How to Become an Outpatient

As you may know, The Milk Bank’s mission is to promote community health by expanding the safe use of human milk for all babies, especially premature and ill infants. Most people think of inpatients when we say ill infants, but the reality is that there are babies who still benefit from Pasteurized Donor Human Milk after they have been discharged from the hospital.  

Many of these babies are suffering from genetic disorders, overcoming prematurity or just simply cannot tolerate bovine based formula. Or it could be that Mom might have had a mastectomy, be on medications inappropriate for breastfeeding or might have low milk supply. These are the babies we serve as outpatients.


So you might be asking, how do I get milk as an outpatient? Below is an outline of the steps necessary to receive Pasteurized Donor Human Milk as an outpatient.



  1. Contact our Clinical Coordinator, Sarah Long, to discuss your situation. Sarah can be reached best by email: Once you have spoken to Sarah, she will send you our outpatient intake packet.
    • Fill out and return outpatient intake packet, which includes:
    • Baby’s health history
    • Baby’s feeding history
    • Physician’s prescription detailing how many ounces and duration of need. For instance, 4 ounces, every 2 hours for 3 months.
  2. Once we receive all the information, our clinical team will review the packet and approve you to receive milk.
  3. Once approved, we can then supply you with pasteurized donor human milk.


Things to keep in mind:

  • Pasteurized donor human milk is dispensed using a priority system.
  • Inpatient, hospitalized preemies, and infants are our priority.
  • Pasteurized donor human milk is not guaranteed to outpatients as our milk supply is ever changing and never fully guaranteed, but we will always do our best to meet the needs of current outpatients.


Hawkins Blog Bio

Milk Banking: More Than Breast Milk

A couple months ago, I received a call from a nurse at a local hospital. One of her patients had a delivered preterm and the baby did not survive. The thing is, even though her baby did not survive, her body was already making milk and this mom was adamant about wanting to become a milk donor to honor her baby. Without hesitation, I knew what I had to do. I packed up my things and headed to the hospital. When I walked into that dark and quiet hospital room, the air was just different. In that room was a newly-bereaved mom holding her baby. A baby that looked so sweet and perfect and peaceful. A baby who was no longer living. My heart was instantly broken for this woman, for I have experienced a similar loss myself.

For the next two hours, I had the privilege to sit with her, cry with her and even laugh a little with her. I witnessed things that brought back some very painful and vivid memories of the night my son, Michael, passed away and of our last moments together. Was it hard? Absolutely. But I am so very grateful that I was able to use my experience as a tool to help this mom through her difficult time and bring a little light to her darkness.

Someone asked me why I went there that day. My answer was simply, “Because I knew that’s where I needed to be.” I did not plan to go there, but that “interruption” to my daily schedule was life-changing.

I often talk about how much I love my job, but after a day like that, I know even more that I am in the perfect place. Working for The Milk Bank has given me the opportunity to turn my heartbreak into something good and to be a beacon of hope for hurting moms.

I’ve said it once and I will say it again, milk banking is about so much more than the milk.



Donor profile: Kaleigh

baby-home2How did you hear about donating your excess breast milk?I had a friend who donated and encouraged her friends to donate!


What happened that made you realize you had enough breast milk to share with babies in need? I was very frustrated the first week of pumping because I was barely keeping up with my son's needs. My son couldn't nurse and had to be tube fed (this didn't help my frustration). After the first week, I started producing over 50 ounces a day...can you say "milk mama!"


Was there anything unique about your pumping routine? I must admit that I broke the rules of pumping. I didn't pump every couple of hours. My schedule of pumping was consistent and I only pumped 3 times a day because living in the hospital and meeting with doctors consumed my time. I'm now going on 13 months of pumping and have never experienced a dip in supply.


Was your employer/spouse supportive of you pumping/ donating? My sweet husband was very supportive of my pumping and donations. He always dropped my milk off to The Milk Bank. Poor guy had his picture taken a few times during drop off :)


Would you donate again? Most definitely! This year has been one heck of a ride with my son's surgeries and too many hospital stays, but pumping brought some sense of relief and relaxation.



Are you a milk donor or recipient who would like to share your story? We would love to hear from you. Contact us!

The Milk Bank hosts classes on milk donation for bereaved mothers

The Milk Bank hosts classes on milk donation for bereaved mothersPerinatal psychology expert presents classes funded by March of Dimes

INDIANAPOLIS – The Milk Bank is offering classes on the value of milk donation for a bereaved mother November 6 at Community North Hospital.


The featured speaker is Jessica Welborn, Co-Director of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana. Welborn is the author of “Lactation Support for the Bereaved Mother, a Toolkit.” She also received her PhD in perinatal psychology from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, with a focus on the psychological impact of donating breast milk following perinatal loss. Welborn also worked for two years as the Donor Coordinator at the Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose, CA. Jessica also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE), a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women's health.


Following Welborn’s presentation, the sessions will include a panel discussion of real mothers and their experiences donating milk after losing a baby.


There will be two separate sessions for this class, and each will include the same content. Attendees can choose to attend from 8:30 to 11:30 AM or 12:30 to 3:30 PM in the Community North Maternity Unit conference room.


The Milk Bank is the only nonprofit milk bank in central Indiana that accepts donor milk from bereaved mothers. They honor these mothers and their children through a remembrance tree in their office, which shares the names of babies whose mothers have donated to serve other infants in need.


The classes are funded by grant money from the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes Indiana has awarded a grant to The Milk Bank to support these classes that are aimed at underserved maternal and child health needs here in Indianapolis. This program will provide bereaved mothers with information about milk donation. This grant is one of many that the March of Dimes awards in pursuit of its mission to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.


To register for class, please contact The Milk Bank at 317.536.1670 or About The Milk Bank Since 2005, The Milk Bank has been committed to providing pasteurized human milk donations to infants in hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) throughout the Midwest. The Milk Bank is a non-profit organization that accepts and pasteurizes human milk donations from fully screened and approved donor mothers, ensuring the highest quality donations. The Milk Bank has milk depot locations in five states for donor convenience. In 2014, The Milk Bank started a partnership with Indiana Blood Center, making each of their locations function as a milk depot has well. For more information, visit



Breastmilk: a Life Insurance Policy

Breastmilk: A Life Insurance Policy

By: Carissa Hawkins, Communications Coordinator, The Milk Bank

Debbie Pedersen refers to her deep freezer full of breastmilk as her "Life Insurance Policy" because it is.

Five years ago Debbie gave birth to her first child, a daughter who was born with a cleft lip and palate and a rare syndrome that was diagnosed in utero. Once born, Kaia had a weeklong stay in the NICU and that's when Debbie was first introduced to the breast pump.

Debbie used a hospital grade pump continuously until she realized the convenience and quiet of a manual hand pump. While in the NICU, Debbie and her husband were offered Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) for Kaia until Debbie's milk came in. They refused, not knowing much about PDHM at the time.


Breastmilk: A Life Insurance Policy {}

Initially, breastfeeding wasn't guaranteed for Debbie because of Kaia's cleft lip and palate but with the help of a nipple shield Kaia was able to latch until she had the surgery to correct the cleft at 4 months age. After the surgery the doctors asked Debbie not to use the nipple shield in order to protect the delicate tissue they had just repaired. After 3 days of unsuccessful feeding with the recommended syringes, Debbie was getting desperate, and the plastic surgeon relented that she try feeding at the breast without the nipple shield. Debbie put Kaia to her breast and Kaia latched, perfectly! All the while, Debbie had been pumping to maintain her supply and quickly learned she was blessed with an over supply. Having remembered the offer of PDHM from the NICU, Debbie reached out to the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank and became a Donor. All told, Debbie donated over 1200 ounces in 2008.

Kaia and Debbie continued their breastfeeding relationship until Kaia was 27 months old mainly due to a diagnosis of kidney cancer. Debbie had continued to pump in addition to breastfeeding in order to make sure she could continue to provide Kaia with breastmilk throughout cancer treatment. Debbie felt her breastmilk was vital to helping Kaia through chemotherapy. Thus, the deep freezer "Life Insurance Policy".

Fast forward to present day, Debbie has since given birth to 2 boys, the youngest being 9 months old. Debbie kept pumping and donated 1100 ounces with her second child.  Now with her third child she exclusively uses a hand pump while breastfeeding. She nurses from one breast and pumps the other every time she feeds the baby. At the height of her supply, Debbie was pumping 100 ounces a day in addition to exclusively breastfeeding her son. Did you get that? Debbie’s using a hand pump to express 100 ounces a day!


Having an over supply of milk, while a blessing, isn't easy for Debbie. Because she pumps when she feeds, she often times finds it hard to find a semi private location to nurse in public. And if she leaves her house, even for a little while, she must take a pump or the pain of engorgement is more then she can bear.

As of this writing, Debbie Pedersen has donated 8,939 ounces since the birth of her youngest with only the help of a manual hand pump. We asked Debbie if she had any advice to give other moms who might be experiencing over supply.  She said, "Donate. It's easy and you really can make a difference."