Milk Bank Hosts Donor Drive at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital

October 3, 2023
Milk Bank Drive at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital

Wyandotte, Mich. -- Staff with Henry Ford Health’s human donor milk bank hosted what’s believed to be a unique event Tuesday at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital: a breast milk donor drive. Henry Ford Milk Bank - Jackson has had a strong and generous response from donors since opening in June.

Milk bank manager Erin McGreal-Miller says they have enough inventory to supply Henry Ford Jackson Hospital’s special care nursery with safe, pasteurized human donor milk for 14 months. As the milk bank team works towards supplying other Henry Ford hospitals and outpatients, they’re working to spread the word about donation to more people who are producing breast milk. 

“We specifically chose to hold a milk bank drive in Wyandotte because we haven’t had any donors from downriver and we’d really love to start working with some families in this area,” McGreal-Miller said. 

Breast milk’s short and long-term health benefits to infants are well established by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In instances when a mother would like to breast feed but can’t, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend donor human milk as the best alternative.
“People make their feeding plans for their babies far in advance, and it doesn’t always go smoothly, and when it doesn’t, it can be incredibly distressing for new parents who already have a lot to deal with. We want them to know there’s help here at Henry Ford,” McGreal-Miller said. 
“Breastmilk helps prevent diseases, boosts immunity, and decreases babies’ risk of diabetes and obesity down the road,” said Cari Gray, RN, at Henry Ford Hospital in Jackson. “And same with mom – it helps decrease their risk of breast and ovarian cancers and diabetes. There are countless benefits to both mom and baby.”

Those interested in becoming a donor could stop by the one-stop screening event to complete most of the donor requirements including a screening questionnaire, donor conversation, lab work and paperwork. 

“We know the screening process can be a barrier for potential donors,” said McGreal-Miller. “Our donors are busy with infants at home, or they work outside the home, so we try to make the screening process as easy as possible. Every part of the screening process can be done remotely, too, if needed.”
To be a candidate, you must be lactating, generally healthy, limit your alcohol use, and abstain from tobacco and marijuana. There are also some medications that could rule someone out for donations. If you meet the criteria, the team asks that you donate approximately 100 ounces during your time as a donor – a gift that will go a long way.

“What we hear from both our recipient and donor families is what a gift it is to receive and donate milk,” said McGreal-Miller. “We have some donors who started out as milk recipients. They had their baby, struggled with breastfeeding, received donor milk, and went on working with our lactation staff to breastfeed successfully. Then creating a surplus, they were able to give back the gift they received because it meant so much to them. It gives me goosebumps every time!”




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