Archive for the 'Non-Profit' Category


Milk Sharing Made Better — Eats on Feets

February 16th, 2011 by MamaBear

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.

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An iThemba Lethu Milk Bank Project :)

February 14th, 2008 by MamaBear

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.

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Did you hear the GOOD News?

February 14th, 2008 by MamaBear

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!! :)

Remember when I posted about the New England Mothers’ Milk Bank and the contest over at Ideablob.com? Well, according to Tanya, we WON that contest!!! Woo-hoo!! :)

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. :)

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New Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England to Open, Hopefully Soon

January 20th, 2008 by MamaBear

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.)

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Thinking of Donating Your Breastmilk? Read This First.

September 2nd, 2007 by MamaBear

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 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.

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Reader Mail

July 29th, 2007 by MamaBear

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve received many emails and messages thanking me for helping to expose what Prolacta is doing. I remember when I started doing my research, I read a few posts by other bloggers, and I thought what they were doing was really necessary. I was so grateful for their pursuit of the truth. The more I read, however, the more I wanted more information.

I kept looking, but the internet could only give me so much. I remember so many articles and sites, even Salon, a highly respected news website, quoted Prolacta’s price for human milk fortifier, as “about $35-$40,” (I issued a correction, which was printed in the comments section), but no matter where I looked, I couldn’t get an exact quote anywhere. This is why I started making phone calls. I didn’t want some ambiguous estimate; I wanted to know exactly how much they were charging.

That’s when I called Prolacta, found out their price for human milk fortifier was $184.83/ounce, and became the first person on the internet to write about it. I then called the National Milk Bank to see how they were affiliated with Prolacta, and found out they sold all their milk for $1/ounce to Prolacta. Even though they call themselves a “milk bank,” they do not actually distribute any breast milk to needy babies themselves. They’re essentially just a sugar-coated funnel for acquiring Prolacta’s raw material.

I then called iThemba Lethu, the orphanage in South Africa that the International Breast Milk Project donates to, and found out it only houses six children and has its own in-house milk bank (established 2001), which essentially makes the International Breast Milk Project an enormous waste of time and resources (which, other bloggers already had pointed out, would have been the case anyway since it costs so damn much to ship anything that far, let alone frozen milk). I found out that, as of this date, the IBMP has only sent Africa a little over 5,000 ounces of breast milk (all to iThemba Lethu), after they promised they’d send 55,000 ounces PLUS 25% of what was collected after May 31, 2007 (and in my opinion, it’s not very likely the IBMP will finish sending even just the 55,000 ounces by year’s end, allowing them to collect even more donations in the interim).

The Lactivist was the one, along with some other curious souls, that got Prolacta, I mean, the IBMP, to admit that they were only going to send 25% of the milk donations collected after May 31, 2007 to Africa, even though nobody ever mentioned any of this when they were showcased on Oprah. Lauredhel astutely noted in a recent post that the new president of the California chapter of The International Breast Milk Project, April Brown, is none other than Prolacta CEO Elena Medo’s daughter. (I’d actually missed that tidbit when I first read the OC Register article, so thank you, Lauredhel, for pointing it out!)

On the MilkShare Yahoo group, someone posted a link to my site and the Lactivist’s to try to warn potential donors not to fall for these scams. Since that post was made, I’ve received even more mail.

One letter in particular caught my eye, and I want to share it with you.

The email is from Betty (name changed), a woman who donated to the National Milk Bank. She says she was never told her milk would be sold for a profit, or even sold at all. She writes me:

I wish I could find others who have actually gone through this… This really actually hurts me. I didn’t bargain for this. My heart is still sick. I don’t know what to do. I feel very betrayed. All they had to do was provide disclosure…then I would have NOT chosen them…But instead, they gave ‘just enough’ information to get me interested. I should have known it was all too good to be true….*sigh* oh well…I have a pump and endless supply of bottles now. I guess that’s supposed to help me feel better.

The whole reason I picked the National Milk Bank and not a HMBANA bank is because I didn’t WANT the mothers to have to pay for the milk and one of the lovely ladies at NMB assured me that it was as a prescription in the NICU so it was covered completely. …

I know there’s problems inherent with ANY organization, but I just wish there was full-disclosure. I’m VERY into informed consent, and there is NO WAY IN HELL I would have donated had I known they would alter my milk other than pasteurizing it and NO WAY IN HELL I would have donated if I had ANY inkling (my biggest nightmare now) that they were turning my milk into Human Milk Fortifier. If I wanted someone to make a profit, I’d sell it myself.

Betty also shared with me an email she got from the National Milk Bank after she and her husband started making inquiries about what happened to her donated milk and how the National Milk Bank operates. As you read, notice how the writer, a National Milk Bank employee, evades revealing too much truth. My comments are in [brackets]:

Hi Betty,
We received a message from your husband earlier today and wanted to get back to you, but [insert some generic excuse here for why they screened Betty’s husband’s call and didn’t return it].

Prolacta Bioscience is who we work with and where the milk goes, once it has been donated. [Notice the use of the words “who we work with,” not “who we sell our donated milk to.” Often, those selling their milk to Prolacta will say that they are “partnering” with Prolacta, or some other garbage term that disingenuously represents what they’re actually doing.]

Once there, [what followed this was essentially a three-sentence advertisement for Prolacta human milk fortifier. *yawn*].

Another thing I would like to share with you is that in order for the babies to receive the milk, they must have a prescription from their NICU doctor. No prescription equals no milk. [Five more sentences of utter rubbish not relevant to anything at all.]

In answer to your concern, we do not sell our milk to the public. [Here they should have added, “We sell it to Prolacta for $1/ounce.”]

However, we do receive a profit, and the small profit we receive allows us to cater to our moms the way we do. [What?! They’re a for-profit entity? Just like Prolacta? *Break to check nationalmilkbank.com* Yup, nowhere on the website does it say it is a non-profit anymore. Funny that. I will update my links page now.]

We are able to supply our moms with …[Spare me your sales pitch. What you should be writing is “our donors supply us with our paycheck.”]

In addition, we are not established under a hospital or a medical office which makes it very difficult to claim non profit due to the guidelines and strict adherences to follow under government regulations. [Or, to put it more succinctly, “we make a profit off the milk donations we receive by appearing to look like a non-profit, but actually, we’re not.”]

If we can answer any other questions or concerns, please email or call us at 866-522-6455. Thank you and have a blessed day. [Nice touch. I’ll bet that last sentence alone is enough to make your donors forget they were conned.]

[Name removed]
National Milk Bank

If you’ve had a similar experience with Prolacta, The National Milk Bank, the International Breast Milk Project, or a midwifery/birth center, please post a comment or write me privately. With your permission, I’ll post it here.

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La Leche League Founders

July 25th, 2007 by MamaBear

This video is so inspiring that I cried throughout it. A friend of mine shared it with me, and I’d love to share it with you so that you may feel inspired too. It chronicles the history of La Leche League International. It tells how LLLI, originally LLL, was founded by seven women who breastfed their babies in 1956, a time when breastfeeding rates were abysmally low in the U.S.A. Over a few decades, their influence has had enough of an impact to change attitudes about breastfeeding for the better. They still need help, though, which is why donations for the month of August will go to La Leche League International. Enjoy the video.

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Milk Bank Scams to Watch Out For

July 18th, 2007 by MamaBear

I did a quick Google search to see if Prolacta Bioscience was up to its usual shenanigans again. Apparently, it is. In addition to soliciting breast milk donations directly on prolacta.com through milkbanking.net, creating the National Milk Bank to funnel all the milk donated there into Prolacta, and hijacking the International Breast Milk Project so that 75% of all donations to the IBMP go to Prolacta, they’ve got yet another scheme. They “partner up” with a birth center or lactation center so that breast milk donors are duped into trusting Prolacta.

The donated milk gets processed as human milk fortifier (a product that has not been proven safe yet; published medical journals regarding its safety either do not exist or are very obscure) and the recipient gets charged $184.83/ounce.

Here are some examples of organizations that sell their their milk to Prolacta, same as the National Milk Bank and International Breast Milk Project do:

If you donate to any of the above places, to milkbanking.net or the National Milk Bank, know that your all your milk will go to Prolacta Bioscience. Prolacta will then process and sell the milk for $184.83/ounce. If you donate to the International Breast Milk Project, 75% of your donated breast milk will stay in the United States to be sold for $184.83/ounce.

Edited (7/26/2007): Please read or listen to this public radio report on Prolacta that confirms much of what I’ve already written.

If you want to donate to someplace where your milk will actually help a baby (and not a for-profit corporation), consider donating to a HMBANA bank. They have no affiliation with Prolacta Bioscience, and can only charge recipients what it costs to process the milk, which is usually around $3.50/ounce.

If you’d like to donate your breast milk directly to a baby in need, join MilkShare. Milkshare is a group created by Kelley Faulkner in 2004 to hook up women with surplus breast milk with women who would like donated breast milk for their babies. It is a low-cost alternative to milk banks for the recipients, as they only have to pay for shipping for the milk. For donors, it can be very satisfying to be able to know exactly who the recipients of their milk are.

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More Thoughts on Prolacta Bioscience

July 10th, 2007 by MamaBear

It seems that this subject is one that I cannot stop blogging about. There is still so much to say. It bugs me that the National Milk Bank sells every single ounce of donated breast milk they receive to Prolacta Bioscience (I’m not even sure the National Milk Bank wasn’t created by Prolacta; maybe it was! Update: apparently it was.) Yes, all the milk goes to “help treat babies in the NICUs,” but only if someone can foot the bill for it, and the price is very steep ($6.25/milliliter, or $184.83/ounce). Milk from non-profit milk banks also goes to “help treat babies in the NICUs,” and for far less money (around $3.25/ounce). The same stringent quality control and the same outcomes for patients who receive breast milk come from non-profit milk banks as from for-profit ones, with the only difference being that everyone can benefit from non-profit milk banks. The same cannot be said for for-profit ones.

Considering that none of the donors are getting compensated for their trouble and that they’re not even being told the whole story of what happens to their milk when they donate to the National Milk Bank or the International Breast Milk Project, you could say I’m a little ticked off about the whole thing.

Would it bother me as much if the donors were compensated and made aware of how much of a profit would be made? Maybe not, but that scenario is unlikely to happen. Actually, it still would bother me, because Prolacta’s product is so egregiously overpriced for a product that’s marketed “for the nutritional needs of premature and critically ill infants” that it seems almost criminal. Speaking of which, for me to find out the asking price of Prolacta’s human milk fortifier took some substantial investigating. It’s not like they list prices on their website. Many articles and and blogs mistakenly report the price to be around $35-40/ounce, which is only an average taken after you’ve added in your own pumped breast milk to their human milk fortifier. The actual price is $6.25 per milliliter, or $184.83 per ounce. It’s supposed to be a secret, so…. Tell everyone you know, especially anyone considering donating to the National Milk Bank, The International Breast Milk Project, and Prolacta Bioscience. If word gets out about their prices and what’s really happening to the milk that comes into their hands, their supply will drop in a hurry, forcing them to revise their business practices.

Want to donate your milk to a place where it will actually do some good? Find the non-profit milk bank closest to you.

Or donate your milk directly to a mom in your neck of the woods.

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Advantages and Disadvantages to Non-Profit and For-Profit Milk Banks

July 9th, 2007 by MamaBear

Before I continue with this, I need to point out that when I say “non-profit” milk banks, I mean all milk banks that are members of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.  When I say “for-profit” milk banks, I’m referring to The International Breast Milk Project,  the National Milk Bank, and any other milk bank or organization that serves a for-profit company.  Although The National Milk Bank and International Breast Milk Project are technically non-profit entities, they both serve Prolacta Bioscience, a for-profit company specializing in processing and selling a product made out of donated human milk.

Non-Profit Milk Banks

Advantages

  • Milk is a lot cheaper for the baby’s family than with a for-profit milk bank
  • If baby’s family can’t pay, but the baby is critically ill and has a prescription, the milk is free
  • Eleven locations in North America, so far
  • It may be possible that with enough non-profit milk banks and with a steady supply of milk donors and volunteers (and perhaps government subsidies), that the cost per ounce may one day decrease to an affordable level, or at least not increase substantially.

Disadvantages

  • It’s not always convenient to donate milk to a non-profit milk bank
  • Non-profit milk banks do not have the funds to conduct cutting-edge research regarding human milk and milk bank products
  • Milk is expensive for the recipient ($3.00/ounce)
  • Donors don’t get compensated for their time or milk

 

 

For-Profit Milk Banks

Advantages

  • Because the enterprise is motivated by money, research on human milk just gets done, period.
  • Innovative products such as human milk fortifier made from 100% human milk have been invented, with further innovations on the horizon.
  • It’s super easy and convenient to donate to a for-profit milk bank, anywhere in the USA. (A phlebotomist comes to your home for the blood and DNA testing, they send you a hospital-grade breast pump to keep even if you decide not to donate your milk, they provide all coolers, ice packs, pay for all shipping costs, etc.)

Disadvantages

  • Even if an uninsured baby is dying in the NICU anywhere in the USA, he/she will likely not be eligible to receive human milk from a for-profit milk bank if the family cannot afford to pay for it
  • Milk from a for-profit milk bank is prohibitively expensive. Only insurance companies or very wealthy families would be able to afford to use it for treating sick babies at the current asking price ($6.25/milliliter).
  • Since by definition they are for-profit entities, for-profit milk banks have no incentive to lower the price of their human milk products even if they receive an increase in milk donations.
  • Donors don’t get compensated for their time or their milk.  They also don’t usually know that their generously donated milk will be sold for a profit to the end consumer.

 

Overall, I’d say that while it’s great that research is conducted a lot more quickly with for-profit milk banks, non-profit milk banks are better for society overall. Obviously anyone working for Prolacta Bioscience, the National Milk Bank, or the International Breast Milk Project would disagree with this assessment, but you’d probably be hard-pressed to find anyone outside these contrived organizations who’d say for-profit milk banks are a good idea for the majority of babies.

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