Miami Mother Helps Open Florida’s First Nonprofit Milk Depot

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The Gathering Place and Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas to Accept Breastmilk Donations from South Florida Mothers and help feed premature, medically fragile infants. Breastfeeding moms who want to become donors can be screened at no charge.

Premature Infant in Hospital NICU receives life-saving donor milk from the Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas

Premature Infant and Donor Milk Recipient, Photo Courtesy of the Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas

Miami is the first Florida city to open a nonprofit milk depot, giving lactating mothers a drop off location for donations of much-needed breastmilk.

A South Florida mother’s quest to get enough donor breastmilk to feed her son has led to a Florida first: a nonprofit human milk depot to collect breastmilk donations from lactating women.

Mothers, babies and maternal and pediatric health specialists will celebrate the grand opening of the first nonprofit human milk depot with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, February 19 at 10 a.m. at The Gathering Place, a pregnancy, childbirth and parenting resource center at 5810 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33137.

The ribbon-cutting symbolically “opens” the deep freezer unit which will store breastmilk donations from women in South Florida. A milk and cookies toast will follow remarks from Ana Rodriguez, who gives to the milk depot, as well as lactation consultant Mirine Dye, MPH, IBCLC.

Miami is the first Florida city to open a nonprofit milk depot, giving lactating mothers a drop off location for donations of much-needed breastmilk. The depot at The Gathering Place will be serviced by the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, a nonprofit milk bank that provides donor human milk to hospitals in 10 states. Women who are currently breastfeeding infants under one year old are eligible to be screened at no charge to become human milk (aka breastmilk) donors.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas fills prescriptions written by physicians for premature and medically fragile babies who need the life-giving and sustaining nutrition of donor human milk to thrive. There are more than 35,000 babies born each year in Dade County, and although hospitals in the region prescribe donor human milk to NICU babies, a milk collection depot did not exist until now.

Co-owner of The Gathering Place Tamara Taitt decided to open the milk depot after she was approached by Florencia Martinez, a mom who attends classes at The Gathering Place and shared how her son’s severe allergies affected him. “He couldn’t digest anything other than breastmilk,” said Martinez “He would suffer devastating intestinal distress and bleeding, it was terrifying to us.”

Martinez called a few of the nonprofit milk banks that are part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas was willing to open Florida’s first collection site, so Tamara Taitt moved a freezer out of storage and into The Gathering Place.

Martinez now serves as the volunteer milk depot coordinator, accepting donations from Miami donor moms such as Ana Rodriguez. With a goal to breastfeed her baby for at least one year, Digital Research Manager Ana Rodriguez pumps her breastmilk three times a day in her employer’s pump room.” She also pumps once at night. Emma was born on February 23, 2012, and Ana is very close to reaching her one year goal.

Last fall Ana realized that she’d filled two freezers with her own frozen breastmilk. She learned about the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas through local media coverage and began shipping them her extra milk last October. Today she drops it off at The Gathering Place.

“Pumping is easy and I love donating my milk to babies that need it,” said Rodriguez. “I have more milk than Emma can drink and I feel good about donating our breastmilk to a good cause. I know that my donation of 1,231 ounces to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas makes a difference for babies in need.”

More than 85 percent of The Gathering Place moms breastfeed, and more than 50 percent of those moms work outside the home and already pump their breastmilk. “Some moms are intimidated about becoming a donor, but becoming a donor is easier than they think,” said Taitt.

Nonprofit milk banks like the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas ensure donor human milk is safe and available to the infants who need it most. The pasteurized breast milk dispensed is specifically processed to meet the specific needs of fragile and sick babies, serving babies with the greatest medical needs, regardless of family’s ability to pay.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas currently has 200 women donating their surplus breastmilk, but estimates it needs more than 650 donor mothers to meet this year’s projected demand from hospital NICUs for the life-saving nutrition. Therefore, another 450 or more volunteer milk donorsare needed to meet the demand and fill all orders received from neonatologists. To learn more about milk banking or become a milk donor, please visit http://www.texasmilkbank.org/.

About the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas
The Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 to provide premature and critically ill infants with donor human milk when their own mother's milk is not available. To donate breastmilk, please email moms(at)texasmilkbank(dot)org or call 817.810.0071 or toll-free 1.866.810.0071. Learn more about milk banking at http://www.texasmilkbank.org and visit their blog at http://www.texasbreastfeeding.org.

About The Gathering Place
Founded by Michelle Fonte and Tamara Taitt, The Gathering Place is a community resource center offering professionally-led classes, workshops and peer support groups. Located at 5810 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL, 33137 center fosters pregnancy, birth and parenting experiences that are conscious, satisfying and memorable. To learn more about The Gathering Place, visit http://www.ThePlaceWeGather.com.

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