Guest post by Amy Trotter, Community Relations Director at Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas
Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the health and survival of infants through breastfeeding advocacy and the safe, equitable provision of pasteurized donor human milk.
Located in southwest Fort Worth, MMBNT dispenses more than 600,000 ounces of donor human milk a year to North Texas NICUs and fragile babies at home. Mothers with an excess supply of breastmilk complete a thorough screening before sending their frozen donations to the milk bank for processing. This generosity saves countless little lives.
Immunological properties in breastmilk prevent complications and enhance survivability. Oftentimes, when babies are born prematurely, their mothers can’t provide breastmilk. Donor milk then becomes the best alternative.
Educating the community about milk banking is vitally important to connecting milk donors to milk recipients. As the demand for donor milk continues to increase, more and more donor milk will be needed to serve hospitalized infants and outpatients such as Myles, who is featured in the story below.
Thankful for Miraculous Human Milk
Early on, Jennifer’s pregnancy was difficult and stressful. At 13 weeks, she was diagnosed with pregnancy-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a severe blood disorder. From that point, one to three times every week, Jennifer needed plasma exchange therapy called plasmapheresis.
Then another problematic pregnancy-related complication called preeclampsia caused her blood pressure to rise dangerously high. When severe, the condition can result in preterm birth and even death. According to the March of Dimes, preeclampsia is the cause of 15 percent (about 3 in 20) of premature births in the United States.
Concerns became a reality when Myles was born prematurely at 25 weeks and weighed only one pound, eleven ounces. He was slightly heavier than a basketball, six medium-sized bananas or six sticks of butter which classified him as a micropreemie. Due to his early arrival, Myles would face many challenges and a long stay in the hospital NICU.
Jennifer says, “Shortly after Myles was born, I was told to rally around him and fight for him and that one of the most important things I could do was provide breastmilk.” At first, Myles didn’t need much milk. In fact, one ounce of breastmilk provides micropreemies with up to 3 feedings.
As Myles struggled with multiple complications, Jennifer pumped milk for him to receive through a feeding tube. He had collapsed lungs, a non-functioning pituitary gland, aspirated when swallowing, and needed bilateral hernia surgery. Ultimately, Myles was in the NICU for 101 days, 90 of which he was oxygen-dependent.
By the time he was discharged, Jennifer’s stress had impacted her milk supply. Her freezer stash of milk was gone, and Myles could not tolerate formula. Jennifer says, “I called the NICU in a panic and they referred me to Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. They worked with me and the doctors to get him his much-needed nutrition and I will forever be grateful.”
Myles just turned one and is thriving. He recently transitioned from donor milk to cow’s milk, another big step in his triumphant journey. Now Myles weighs more than many basketballs, and it won’t be long before he starts shooting hoops.
As Jennifer says, “He is truly a miracle.”
For more information about MMBNT, go to www.texasmilkbank.org.