Milk Bank FAQ: Why do HMBANA Milk Banks need to charge a processing fee for milk?

August 13, 2012. Posted in: Blog Posts,Milk

Image courtesy of the Mothers' Milk Bank in Denver

Many mothers wonder why the non-profit HMBANA human milk banks charge a fee for milk even though the milk has been donated by mothers. Laraine Lockhart Borman, IBCLC, with the Mothers’ Milk Bank in Denver, explains…

The Mothers’ Milk Bank in Denver dispensed 330,000 ounces of milk to babies in 117 different cities last year.  95% of this milk went to hospitals for their preterm and sick babies. These are children who have been born up to 16 weeks early and may weigh a pound at birth. Because these babies are extremely fragile and will not survive without human milk, the donated milk they receive has a large impact. One ounce can feed a micro preemie in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a full day. The mothers of these tiny babies are many times ill themselves and making milk is difficult for them, or they start out with a good amount and are so stressed out with the condition of their baby that their milk supply suffers.

Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) banks do not charge for the milk itself, only for the processing of the milk and related overhead. Processing includes the multi step screening of the donor, including blood tests, donor tracking, pasteurization, testing and analysis of the milk. Related operational costs include rental of office space, purchase of bottles and caps, freezers, and employee payroll. Volunteers are utilized whenever possible.

HMBANA Milk Banks are non-profit organizations making enough to keep doors open and continue to do the important work of helping to save babies’ lives. While the majority of the pasteurized human milk from the Mothers’ Milk Bank in Denver is sold to hospitals, milk depots also sell this life-saving nutrition to individuals. A baby with a health condition warranting the need for milk is never denied milk because of the inability to pay. Recipients always have the opportunity to apply for financial aid.

by Laraine Lockhart Borman, IBCLC, Mothers’ Milk Bank, Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation, Denver, CO

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