I have not posted anything on this blog for a very long time. I don’t even want to think about how long. However, what I am posting today cannot wait. It’s too important. There is a new way to share breast milk with those in need, in addition to MilkShare, and it’s also directly mother-to-mother. It’s called Eats on Feets (http://www.eatsonfeets.org/), and it’s fabulous! There is no charge for this service, and since it’s connected through Facebook, it’s almost immediate for both potential donors and their recipients. Please, if you have extra human milk to give, check out Eats on Feets. There is one for every state (sometimes more than one for each state), and it’s available in several countries as well! I cannot say enough good things about Eats on Feets! It is seriously making the world a better place.
Archive for the 'Milk Banks' Category
I visited Mothering.com today (Hi, Kimber! :)) and discovered a gem of a video entitled “Substitute Abuse” from South Africa. Kudos to the iThemba Lethu Milk Bank (founded by Anna Coutsoudis and run by Penny Reimers) for putting their energy to good use!
This humorous take on breastfeeding education has an audio track that doesn’t aways synchronize with the video, but it is worth watching and listening to the message and intent behind it. Beautifully done. Thanks for uploading it to YouTube, pokenny.
Tanya Lieberman over at Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog (and a reader named Stu — HI, Stu! :)) just informed me that the fledgling Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England will be receiving $10,000!!
So, now the HMBANA Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England will have $10,000 as seed money to help get their facilities get set-up (I’m guessing). It does take a little bit of an investment for freezers, space, and so forth. I wish them the best, of course, and hope HMBANA continue to remain helpful to all the preemies and sick infants of North America.
Happy Valentine’s Day, all.
I just noticed that The Lactivist’s Tuesday, June 05, 2007 post on The International Breast Milk Project accurately reflects the current reality with the IBMP and Prolacta now (Hm. I recently noticed Prolacta.com looks different — different colors and different pictures and different overall format — kind of annoying since before it was more technical and straightforward — though woefully incomplete — and now it’s more “soft” and “vague” and “wishy-washy” — and still missing a lot of really important information. When someone’s primary motivation is making a profit, you gotta wonder about these things…).
I want to thank her (The Lactivist) personally for updating her original, breakthrough thoughts on the IBMP with this thorough post: Thank you, Jennifer.
Please read her post. She has captured a lot of the concerns I’ve been writing about with regard to Prolacta and the IBMP. As a recipient (Jennifer is writing from the perspective of a donor), I can agree with most of what she has to say. I am not a capitalist at heart. I have learned to work within The Patriarchal Machine, and I do it really well, but I really do believe in a true democracy, where money doesn’t really matter (and everyone is equally important). But that information is not really that relevant to this particular post of mine. It’s really important that y’all read what Jennifer has to say regarding “What This News Doesn’t Change” and “Where Does This Leave You?” if you’re thinking of formal milk donation (unlike informal milk donation — like MilkShare, which for me as a mother who has desperately needed breastmilk for my child on numerous occasions and gotten it through there, has been a Godsend).
Please read her post. It’s very important. Don’t miss it.
Tanya over at Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog turned me onto this awesome new happening. New England will soon have its own HMBANA milk bank (or at least it appears that way from the MMBNE links page and the FAQ page)! And you, dear readers, can help make it happen by voting for it in a contest. All you have to do is register. Get more details about this over at Tanya’s blog and the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England website (yup, they have one up already — very cool!) But hurry! The last day to vote is tomorrow, the 21st of January.
For those of you that are curious, I covered human milk banking in the United States in several of my previous posts, one of which is a go-to post on the subject of breastmilk donation, for those of you thinking of either donating or becoming a recipient of breastmilk. Please take a look at it when you have the time, ’cause it’s an eye-opener. The different types of milk banks, including HMBANA milk banks, are pretty well covered there.
Happy voting, everyone!
Edited to add: Tanya has informed me today (January 23) that the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England has made it into the final round in the Ideablob.com contest and is competing among seven other candidates. So, if you would like to see a new HMBANA Mothers’ Milk Bank form in New England and have some of its start-up costs defrayed, please vote again. If you’ve already signed up, you just need to log in and vote. It’s super-fast and easy, and it could make the difference between life and death for babies in the New England area in the near future. Please vote. The last day to vote for the final round is January 31st. Thanks again to everyone who voted already and those who will vote again. (And thanks again, Tanya, for the heads-up.)
Many women who pump for their babies often find that they have way more than their baby will ever consume. It is at this point that the thought of donating that extra milk to a needy baby comes to mind.
There are three ways of milk donation that are available so far:
- Informal milk donation, mother-to-mother
- Formal milk donation to a HMBANA milk bank, to help babies in the NICU
- Formal milk donation to Prolacta Bioscience, a for-profit milk processing company, usually through a milk depot that calls itself a “milk bank”
Breastmilk donation is one of the most beautiful, pure, and selfless acts a mother could do for another. Unfortunately, some people are exploiting this generosity and using it for their own ends. If you are a mother intent on donating your excess breast milk to help a needy baby, one option that will allow you to be sure that your intended recipient is a baby and not a for-profit milk processing company is informal milk donation. Informal milk donation is when you donate your breastmilk directly to the family that will be feeding their baby with it. The biggest hurdle with this for most milk donors and recipients seems to be finding a family near them that either needs milk or has a surplus of it.
The best option right now in North America for informal milk donation match-up is an organization called MilkShare. With MilkShare, you can meet your recipient and get to know your recipient family. The only fee involved is a one-time $15 fee for the recipient to join MilkShare. That is all, and $15 is a bargain compared to all the other options available to recipients out there. Donors join for free.
Another match-up organization which will hopefully be up and running soon is Milk Match. It is a forum that will be devoted exclusively to matching up donor and recipient moms informally, though it hasn’t started quite yet. It is not known at this time whether Milk Match will charge a fee for its services.
It is important when engaging in informal breast milk donation to get to know the family you are dealing with, both on the recipient and donor sides. For the recipient, it’s important to screen your breast milk donor by getting blood tests done, which should be at the recipient’s expense, and asking any relevant questions about lifestyle, the same way a milk bank would. The recipient could also learn to pasteurize the breast milk at home very easily and cheaply, if there is a concern about potential pathogens in the milk even after screening with a blood test. If applicable, the recipient should pay for shipping expenses; the donor should never have to incur any expense for donation. No money should be exchanged for the milk itself, as that may tarnish the altruism of the act.
For the donor, it’s important to make sure that the breastmilk you are so generously donating is going to a baby and not to an organization that will re-sell your milk (that’s why it’s important to get to know the family you’re donating to, in addition to the satisfaction of getting to know the baby you are helping to nourish with your milk!) It is an extremely rewarding act, the act of milk donation, when both recipient and donor know each other directly, without a middle-man.
However, there are many legitimate reasons to donate to HMBANA milk banks, a collection of eleven milk banks in North America, as well. HMBANA milk banks take breast milk donations from screened donors, pasteurize the donated milk, and provide it to needy babies in NICUs all across North America for a fee of $3.50/ounce. Often, raw donated breast milk can’t be given to delicate preemies because everything they come in contact with must be free from pathogens, and it is possible that unpasteurized donor milk could contain pathogens that for a normal infant wouldn’t cause a problem but in a preemie could be devastating. This is why HMBANA milk banks provide such a valuable service to the babies that need it the most, including abandoned babies who don’t have parents to advocate for them through MilkShare. What is especially compelling about HMBANA milk banks and what convinces me that they are truly there for the benefit of sick babies is that if the family cannot afford to pay $3.50/ounce for the milk, which is reportedly less than what it costs the HMBANA banks to process it, HMBANA banks will waive this fee for a critically ill baby. Truly, HMBANA milk banks are a godsend to babies in the NICU, regardless of whether or not they have a family to care for them, and regardless of whether their family can afford to pay for the pasteurized breastmilk.
There is a third option for breastmilk donation that everyone should be aware of but that I do not recommend. There are several milk depots across the United States that call themselves milk banks, but these “milk banks” are NOT affiliated with HMBANA milk banks at all. These “milk banks” don’t actually distribute milk to needy babies. These so-called “milk banks” are collection stations, sometimes freestanding, sometimes found inside hospitals or birthing centers, taking in milk to sell it directly to a company called Prolacta Bioscience (the price Prolacta pays for the raw milk ranges from $.50-$2/ounce). To all outward appearances, these milk depots look and sound like a real milk bank, but they do not distribute any milk to any babies, which is part of what real milk banks do.
Prolacta Bioscience, the company which processes the donated breast milk collected at these milk depots, is the only for-profit human milk processing company in the world. It processes donated breast milk and turns it into human milk fortifier, which is meant to be added to human milk, for preemies. What Prolacta doesn’t mention on any of its publications is that this human milk fortifier carries a price tag of $6.25/milliliter, which, when converted to ounces, is $184.83/ounce. This is alarming enough, but since Prolacta is a for-profit company and not in any way associated with HMBANA, if a family with a critically ill baby can’t pay or doesn’t have health insurance or Medicaid, they don’t get the human milk fortifier, even if their baby needs it. Additionally, there are no peer-reviewed studies so far that have even proven Prolacta’s human milk fortifier to be necessary. HMBANA milk banks already have the technology in place to provide preemies with higher-calorie milk, and preemies have already been known to thrive off of the HMBANA-provided milk, so the necessity of Prolacta’s human milk fortifier is questionable. Furthermore, if people donate to a Prolacta “milk bank” and give their breastmilk to Prolacta Bioscience instead of a HMBANA milk bank (both organizations have very similar screening criteria and thus receive donations from the same pool of donors), this depletes the supply going into HMBANA banks which means fewer preemies get the milk they so desperately need at a price that could be afforded.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing disturbing about the for-profit business model thus far. In addition to not easily disclosing the price of their human milk fortifier, and not explicitly informing its donors that their milk will be sold for a profit, Prolacta also reportedly has their donors sign a contract which essentially strips the donors of all the rights to their own breastmilk. Any royalties made off the sale of their breast milk, and any findings made from studying the components in their breast milk, the donors have no right to have. If Prolacta chooses to share their findings with their donors, it will be at Prolacta’s discretion, but the donors give up the right to any royalties or knowledge gleaned from the study of their breast milk the instant they sign a contract with Prolacta. Prolacta can patent components found in any of the human breast milk they receive, which means that Prolacta could potentially use these patented components, manufacture them, and sell them to formula companies so that formula can become even “closer to mother’s own milk.” This not only affects donors and recipients of Prolacta’s products today; it has the potential to affect breastfeeding for the future. If the public becomes convinced that formula is so close to mother’s milk that breastfeeding is unnecessary, then more people will choose to formula-feed instead of breastfeed, and the breastfeeding mothers that do remain will be seen as a societal “nuisance” because they insist on feeding their children in a way that’s “inconvenient” or “obsolete” or incompatible with the way society runs. As it is, with the advent of DHA and ARA being added to formulas to make them more like breast milk, already many people, including doctors, have the perception that formula is “just as good” or “almost as good” as breast milk, which is simply not true. Formula is still far inferior to breastmilk, for many, many reasons beyond talk of mere “components,” but even with the addition of 50 more components (not likely within this lifetime), formula would still be far inferior to breastmilk, given that there are at many hundreds of components in breast milk, many of which do not tolerate heat-treatment or sterilization, which all formula undergoes during manufacturing.
(Martek Bioscience owns the patent on DHA and ARA, for anyone that’s interested. DHA and ARA really are found in breast milk, and those components have been isolated in a lab and now are manufactured to be sold as supplements for adults and children or as additions to formula, so this concept of patenting manufactured breastmilk components isn’t some hokey-conspiracy science fiction fantasy. It’s happening now.)
I’m not saying improving formula for infants is a bad thing. Far from it. I have to supplement with formula for my own baby, so I want what I feed her to be as good as possible. The problem I have with this scheme is the way the donor milk is being obtained from generous donor moms and the implication that the addition of “breastmilk components” in formula has on the future of breastfeeding and mothers’ right to breastfeed. Is it possible that in the far future (100 years from now), women who choose to breastfeed be taxed by the government because the formula lobby insisted on it? If formula becomes perceived by the majority of the population as “just as good” as mothers’ milk, even if it isn’t, because of formula marketing (their marketing tactics are clearly working today, since even some doctors are convinced formula is “almost as good” as breastmilk), and if most voters are formula-feeders 100 years from now, it’s definitely possible. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my granddaughters and great-granddaughters to be taxed for breastfeeding.
All speculation aside, what I’m saying is, inform yourself. Ask lots of questions before donating to anyone. If you are interested in breast milk donation, especially in donating to a milk “bank” that is partnered with Prolacta, read the contract very carefully before signing, especially the parts about the rights you will be signing over to Prolacta. Prolacta often offers a free breast pump to its donors, and this offer can seem very attractive, but it’s not worth signing away all the rights to your own milk for a breast pump. If after asking all your questions, you have more questions than answers, you may want to consider donating elsewhere.
The following milk depots partner with Prolacta, which means that ALL the milk donations donated to the following milk “banks” are sold to Prolacta Bioscience for $.50-$2/ounce (usually $1/ounce). Prolacta then processes the raw donated breast milk and re-sells it for $184.83/ounce. Also, the following milk depots require donors to sign a contract which reportedly strips the donors of their rights to their own milk. None of the following milk “banks” distribute milk to needy babies:
- The National Milk Bank
- The University of Minnesota Medical Center
- The Family Birth Center
- The Mother’s Touch, The Birth Connection Milk Bank
- The Whole Woman, Inc.
- South Coast Milk Bank
- Milkin’ Mamas
- Miami Maternity Center
The above list is not comprehensive and does not include all of the milk banks that partner with Prolacta. You need to ask the milk bank you donate your milk to whether or not Prolacta processes its milk in order to be sure.
The following organization partners with Prolacta and sells at least 75% of its milk donations to Prolacta Bioscience for $1/ounce:
It has still not been confirmed by the IBMP’s founder, Jill Youse, what has happened to all the money made from selling the milk to Prolacta thus far. 100% of that money, for three months (May 31, 2007-August 31, 2007), was promised toward the building of a health facility at the Lewa Children’s Home at Eldoret, Kenya. During those three months, the International Breast Milk Project reportedly earned at least $50,000 in sales of donated breastmilk to Prolacta (~$25,000 for June and ~$25,000 for July. It is not known how much was earned for August 2007). This amount of money still has NOT been sent to the Lewa Children’s Home, according to the IBMP. As of the date of this posting, many questions still remain unanswered about how much breastmilk and money are really going to Africa.
ETA: The IBMP has updated their site a few times since the original posting of this entry. Happily, according to the newly updated FAQ section of the IBMP site (which is ever-changing), the money in question was donated to Africa. Hopefully the IBMP will continue its charitable efforts in Africa because, after all, that is the reason why the organization exists.
I received a message from Jill Youse, founder of the International Breast Milk Project, who wrote me by using my contact form last night. She sent it twice. It was the following:
Hi Breastfeeding Symbol,
Thank you for suggesting that we update the FAQs, I will do that as soon as possible.
Just to clarify, we have donated funding already to Lewa (in conjunction with Run
for Africa, our sister organization) and moving forward we have identified Village
Life Outreach, the organization focused in improving health care for the three
villages in Tanzania as a recipient of the funding. Any other organizations
interested in receiving funding should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can clarify or update for you or feel
free to email me anytime at email@example.com.
I really appreciate your feedback and anything else you can suggest so that I can
continue to serve you and other donating moms in the future as best as possible.
The first thing I want to say is that I really appreciate you contacting me directly, Jill, and I have to admit that, upon reading this, my heart softened a little. I gotta hand it to you, you do have a way with words. When I read the message, I thought to myself, “Maybe the $20,000+/month she’s getting for selling the donated breastmilk to Prolacta is all going to help African orphans after all… Maybe, just maybe, all your suspicions about the IBMP based on your observations so far have been unwarranted, Mama Bear.”
I thought about it. And then I thought some more. I think “moving forward” onto Tanzania is great, fantastic, even, but I’m still wondering what happened to the children at the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya.
“…we have donated funding already to Lewa…,” the message says, almost dismissively. That’s the only information on Kenya there is. But I have a few questions about that matter, so here’s my response:
Dear International Breast Milk Project,
When did the IBMP donate to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya?
How much (in US dollars) did the IBMP donate to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya?
Was the donation to the Lewa Children’s Home 100% of all the money the IBMP made while that figure (”100%”) was used on the IBMP website to collect more breastmilk donations? Because those questions are relevant and still unanswered.
I did notice that the IBMP FAQ page now has this addendum (added August 29, 2007):
Until now, International Breast Milk Project has been an all-volunteer organzition. [sic] As a result of the astounding and unexpected growth we have experienced over the past six months, we will be allocating a very small percentage of finincial [sic] donations to pay for program management and coordination of the International Breast Milk Project including a financial manager. This will ensure full accountability, progress, and transparency.
The typographical errors on “organization” and “financial” notwithstanding, I am assuming that the word “now” implies “August 29, 2007,” because that’s when that statement was written. This means that before August 29, 2007 (yesterday), the program management, coordination and financial stuff was taken care of by volunteers for free, right?
Volunteers don’t get paid a dime for their altruism. Or have some of those funds been “allocated” for some IBMP “volunteers” here in the United States? Or perhaps the volunteers didn’t get paid, but somebody has? In case you’re wondering, I don’t actually think that’s a problem, except in the case where this fact is not disclosed and something else is being implied. As of right this moment, no such fact has been disclosed and the implication is now (as of yesterday) that, other than a tiny percentage of the money made off donations, the great majority of the money will go straight to Africa. The wording also implies that this “allocation” hasn’t taken place yet, that it will take place sometime in the future (”we will be allocating” is what is written, instead of “we have allocated” or “we have been allocating”), so if the IBMP “has been allocating” already, that information STILL isn’t on the IBMP website, yet it should be, instead of “will be allocating.” Does that make sense? Also, I think people probably will want to know how much has been, is being, and will be allocated for operational expenses. It’s only fair that people be told up-front how much of what they donate in breastmilk will wind up making its way to Africa in the form of a monetary contribution, because it might change their decision to donate.
Before this addendum was written, I noticed that in every newspaper and magazine article about the International Breast Milk Project that I read (and I have read dozens, believe me!), the implication is very strong that nobody in the United States has ever made any money off this endeavor, that making money for people here in the United States is NOT the focus of the IBMP, and that all those IBMP volunteers (including Jill Youse) are running the IBMP out of the goodness of their hearts. So, I actually think it’s relevant to know if Jill Youse or anyone else is receiving any money from it to keep for themselves, and if so, for how long and how much, because the implication that the IBMP is doing it for free tends to open up people’s hearts and wallets, but, more importantly, it opens up lactating women’s freezers. I don’t think they’d be so eager to help out the International Breast Milk Project if they knew most of their milk were making already well-off Americans money more than it is helping African orphans. Does that make sense? I’m asking these questions, as uncomfortable as they are, because nothing on the IBMP website and in articles about the IBMP, and nothing that I’ve learned by talking on the phone with Prolacta and the people in South Africa reassures me that the opposite is true. In fact, when I read the IBMP website and after talking to people in South Africa, I’m uncomfortably led to believe that most of the money isn’t making its way to Africa (I already know the vast majority of the breastmilk isn’t). Please set the record straight about this, as I’m sure I’m not the only person curious about the answers to these very important questions.
To clarify my point, I was under the impression that 100% of the money made from the milk sold to Prolacta, 100% of that money would go to the Lewa Children’s Home. If 100% of that money didn’t go to the Lewa Children’s Home while that information was on the IBMP website…. 100%, remember? …If that didn’t happen, I want to know why.
I want to know what happened to all that money.
I want to know what percentage of the funds made off of selling donor milk acquired via the IBMP made it to the Lewa Children’s Home. Additionally, I want to know the dollar amount (in U.S. dollars, please) that made it to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya, as of today’s date: August 30, 2007.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I will be sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the information contained in this post, so that Jill Youse can have a chance to clarify all of this and update all of us. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter, IBMP.
P.S. I got Jill Youse’s other message, sent shortly after the first:
I went to the page….
Worked for me…?
Yes, I (and others) noticed that yesterday it started working perfectly, as well, after I posted what I did. Thanks for pointing that out, Jill. The day before, though, August 28, 2007, it was “experiencing technical difficulties” for the whole day. Also, and this may very well be the archive’s fault and not IBMP’s… Several FAQ pages are missing. Many, many months’ worth.
(The following is an edit to the above original post made September 1, 2007):
Jill responded to the post above by emailing me the following message:
Thanks so much for posting and helping me identify areas of
improvement. I will
work to answer all of your questions.
Good to see there are no hard feelings! I will be awaiting the answers from the IBMP (or Jill), which if everything is on the up-and-up, should be a cinch for the IBMP (or Jill) to answer.
Edit: A lot of the links under the category of “Prolacta” and “International Breast Milk Project” don’t work anymore because they don’t go to the same place I originally linked to. This is not anything I did; the changes were made externally. I’ve chosen to leave the links there and issue this edit so that you, my readers, are aware of what has happened.
Congratulations, International Breast Milk Project. You have officially lost all respectability and credibility as of today. There are a couple of reasons for this. All day today, it has been very difficult to access information about the International Breast Milk Project on the Wayback Machine. Every time I type in “www.breastmilkproject.org” into their search engine, I’m met with a “we’re experiencing technical difficulties” report. Funny, when I type in any other website URL, the internet archive has no such “technical difficulties” whatsoever. Other people have reported the same trouble with looking up anything IBMP-related there today.
Lauredhel made an incredibly rocking post on the IBMP recently, pointing out inconsistencies in the IBMP’s FAQ page between about a week ago and today. Two weeks ago, the IBMP FAQ page said that 100% of the money made off selling donated milk to Prolacta would go directly to the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya. Suddenly, that promise to those children is gone, evaporated into thin air. So, what does this mean? NO money to the Lewa Children’s Home now? All the money made in the name of that Children’s Home will not be sent to Kenya? So it’s okay to take more than a hundred pictures of those African children and use those pictures in a slideshow, along with John Lennon’s hit song “Imagine,” for months to help convince women to donate their breastmilk to the International Breast Milk Project, but now that the IBMP have the breastmilk donations, now that they got what they wanted, NO money to the Lewa Children’s Home? Now, supposedly the money will go to some unnamed organization in Tanzania? What’s the next IBMP FAQ update going to tell us? “Now donating money to a remote spot in Namibia”…? Hey, why don’t you change countries every month! That’s fun, ’cause no one will notice, right? Certainly no one in Africa will. Who knows if anyone in Africa is even told they’re recipients of anything. How convenient! Planning on surprising them with your “goodwill,” are you, IBMP? Yeah, that’s probably it.
I find it an incredible stretch that the “technical difficulties” experienced today on the Wayback Machine are a mere coincidence, given that Lauredhel’s post was so spot-on, accurate, and shows without a shadow of a doubt that the IBMP keeps changing their story about where the milk and the money are going.
Dear readers, if you really want to help African orphans, I suggest researching the charity you wish to donate to scrupulously before giving anything. Ask many, many questions and make sure that whatever you send WILL go to the intended recipient.
As for breastmilk donation, I highly recommend either donating to a baby in need locally through MilkShare, or donating to a HMBANA non-profit milk bank. There are only eleven HMBANA milk banks in all of North America, so be sure to check that the milk bank you donate to is a HMBANA one so that the recipient gets the milk for the most affordable price possible.
A little while back, Hathor the Cowgoddess created a comic strip on the story of the Zoops, which was really a story about how and why formula became popular and how some women manage to overcome this twisted social indoctrination and (happily) choose to breastfeed anyway. Anyway, I loved the story, and became inspired to do a comic strip of my own. While my drawings aren’t nearly as good as hers, I hope you enjoy reading the following “fictional” tale about an unscrupulous human milk processing company named “Proprofit Bioexploiter” anyway.
Proprofit Bioexploiter, Issue 1
Like this cartoon? Email the following URL to your friends: http://www.breastfeedingsymbol.org/2007/08/26/prolacta-bioscience/. Educate everyone you know about how for-profit milk banking really works.
I can’t believe it took me this long to realize this. I’m sorry I didn’t see it before. I just now noticed another glaring inconsistency with the International Breast Milk Project.
Does anyone remember their old website? I found this old webpage for the IBMP (cached on October 6, 2006) and saw this really intriguing quote, “Our third shipment got underway Tuesday, October 3, when 6000+oz of milk started its journey from donors home to Prolacta Bioscience in California, where it will be processed.”
The first time I read that, I understood it to mean that the third shipment of over 6,000 ounces was underway to Africa on October 3, 2006. But that’s not quite what it means. What that quote means is that donors here in the United States donated over 6,000 ounces of breast milk and that breast milk was sent to Prolacta for processing. Okay.
That third shipment was delivered to Africa on Thanksgiving 2006, according to an online TIME article. Also according to the TIME article, that third shipment contained about 23 gallons of breast milk. When you convert 23 gallons to ounces, you get almost 3,000 ounces. This makes sense because Penny Reimers herself confirmed it when she said the first three shipments were quite a bit less than the fourth one, which was about 5,300 ounces.
The International Breast Milk Project’s third shipment was not quite 3,000 ounces.
Wasn’t the third shipment supposed to be over 6,000 ounces? Isn’t that what the International Breast Milk Project website led everyone to believe on October 6, 2006? This was before the October 23, 2006 Oprah show, so the IBMP already knew Prolacta was skimming off the top, if they announced on their website they had gotten over 6,000 ounces to be processed by Prolacta and then turned around and only shipped less than half of it to Africa. I mean, how else do you explain 3,000 ounces of donated breast milk not accounted for?
The International Breast Milk Project must have known Prolacta was taking a cut — quite a substantial one — before the Oprah show aired. It seems awfully convenient that they would leave out such important information before letting Oprah Winfrey endorse their “cause.”
Another observation: The third shipment to Africa from the International Breast Milk Project was on Thanksgiving 2006. It contained about 3,000 ounces of processed breast milk. The fourth shipment from the International Breast Milk Project wasn’t delivered until May of 2007. That’s six months after the third shipment, way after the Oprah show (which aired October 23, 2006), and after the IBMP was flooded with breast milk donations from Oprah fans and the positive publicity that show generated for them. By IBMP’s accounting, the Oprah show generated about 55,000 ounces in breast milk donations, not including the 6,000+ ounces received before the Oprah special ever aired.
Why it is that after the International Breast Milk Project was flooded with breast milk donations, the IBMP couldn’t find the time to do exactly what it set out to do in the first place, which is to say, send breast milk to Africa, for six months?