Saturday, February 12, 2011

Milkin' Mamas: "Conditionally Qualified" Donor!

I’m officially a “conditionally qualified” breast milk donor!  I had always thought about doing it, even before my daughter was born.  I think it’s an amazing thing for breast feeding mothers to do if they can.  Well, when my daughter was about 4 months old, I realized I could!  Read this post about why I needed to donate my breast milk!  I started the process late last year, starting with research, looking for milk banks in my area and just answering some of my questions.  I found the website Milkin’ Mamas and bookmarked it.  I kept going back to it to read the FAQ and learn more about their process, etc.  Then, I saw this tweet and I was sold.  I emailed Milkin’ Mamas right then. 

They were great.  I received a reply from them in less than 24 hours.  First, I had to answer a few preliminary questions (my name, my baby’s age, do I smoke, have I ever lived in Europe…just the basics J).  I passed.

Next I was contacted by Prolacta Bioscience.  Prolacta uses donated breast milk to make 100% human milk fortifier and standardized human milk.  That milk is given to critically ill and premature babies.  The minimum donation is 100 ounces but they will obviously take more if you have it.  You might be thinking, “Whoa!  100 oz!  Who has an extra 100 oz of breast milk?!?”  I did.  I had 200 oz extra.  Just call me Super Lactate Woman. 

Prolacta had another form for me to fill out.  How much information do these people need?  I’m only donating precious breast milk that will feed incredibly fragile babies.  Apparently this is a serious business J  Anyway, next I received an email with forms for my doctor and Brynlee’s pediatrician to sign.  In the mail I got a little kit with a thermometer to test my freezer, vials for the blood test, DNA test swabs and of course more instructions and forms.  The kit also contained prepaid FedEx shipping packages.  I had to report my freezer temperature (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and verify my donor “code” via email and after that information was confirmed, a nurse from ExamOne Lab called me to set up an appointment for her to come to my house for a blood draw.  The day before the blood draw I contacted FedEx to arrange a pick-up for my two packages (the blood samples and DNA samples.)

I continued to pump and store my milk like usual during the entire qualifying process.  I had to check my freezer temperature every now and then just to make sure it was staying at a safe temperature.  I also made sure I was following the guidelines that they require.  They sent a lovely letter, with the greeting, “Hello Beautiful Mama” J, that outlined all of them.  I think I’m more attentive to how I take care of myself now than I was when I was just providing for Brynlee, but it’s supposed to be that way; Brynlee is strong, healthy and thriving and my donated milk will be going to very premature, disadvantaged babies.  It’s just crucial to be extra careful.

Milkin’ Mamas notified me when my doctor and Brynlee’s pediatrician sent the medical forms back (they don’t require medical records, just a signature from the doctors to confirm that I don’t have any health issues and that Brynlee is developing normally.)  After receiving the results from my blood test (again, I passed J), I was considered a “conditionally qualified” donor while my DNA profile was being created.  I was on my way to milk donation!  I let them know how many ounces I currently had ready to donate, whether or not I was going to be an ongoing donor (I said yes!) and if so if I needed collection bags.  Isn’t that great, not only do I not have to pay one cent for any of this (the blood tests, the shipping, the special in-home visit from the nurse) but if I’m going to be an ongoing donor I don’t have to buy my own storage bags either!

So far, the entire process has taken about a month.  I know it didn’t have to take that long but of course, life happens and there were several speed bumps on my end; lack of free time, problems with scheduling the nurse’s visit due to weather, printer malfunctions, etc.  There was never a delay on Milkin’ Mama’s end of things.  This company is just all around great.  They are working for an incredibly good cause and they take care of the people who decide to work with them.  They have been nothing but supportive, kind, generous….everything honorable people should be!

I can’t wait to receive the coolers and send them my liquid gold!  Not only because we had another issue today with putting away our freezer groceries J, but also because I can’t wait to know that I’ve helped a child in desperate need.  I can’t wait to lift at least a little bit of the burden off a vulnerable mother’s shoulders.  The crazy freezer stock is so totally worth having to buy one less bag of frozen broccoli (and plus, it keeps the stuff we don’t need – think ice cream and popsicles – at the grocery store!) J


Baby Making Mama said...

That's sooooooo awesome!!! Good for you mama!! There's a lot of informal sharing going on right now and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that but there are so many preemie babies who need donated milk from mamas like you. Good job! Thanks for sharing!!

Jennifer said...

That is so cool! Congrats Sister! :)
What a good cause!

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