What is ÓMMB (Oklahoma Mothers Milk Bank) & Why It Matters

Every year, thousands of babies are born prematurely in Oklahoma, putting them at risk of various health complications and developmental delays. For these fragile infants, nothing can replace the nourishment and protection of human milk. However, not all mothers are able to produce enough milk for their babies due to illness, stress, or other factors. That’s where the Oklahoma Mothers’ Milk Bank (ómmb ) comes in. It is a nonprofit organization that provides safe, pasteurized donor milk to meet the specific medical needs of preterm or ill infants in Oklahoma. In this article, we will explore what OMMB is, how it works, and how you can get involved with this lifesaving initiative.

What is ÓMMB and why is it important?

ómmb is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), a network of nonprofit milk banks that follow strict standards and guidelines for collecting, screening, processing, and distributing donor human milk. it was established in 2013 as the first and only milk bank in Oklahoma, with the aim of improving the health outcomes of Oklahoma babies through safe donor milk.

It is important because it provides an alternative source of human milk for babies who cannot receive their own mother’s milk or need supplemental feedings. Human milk is the optimal nutrition for all infants, but especially for preterm or ill infants who are more vulnerable to infections, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), and other complications. 

Human milk contains antibodies, growth factors, hormones, enzymes, and other bioactive components that cannot be replicated by formula. Studies have shown that human milk can reduce the risk of mortality, sepsis, NEC, retinopathy of prematurity, and neurodevelopmental impairment in preterm infants. Moreover, human milk can promote bonding, breastfeeding success, and maternal well-being.

The mission and vision of ÓMMB

The mission of OMMB is to improve the health of Oklahoma babies through safe donor milk collection, screens, processing, and distribution of donated human milk to those who need it for medical reasons. The primary beneficiaries are infants, particularly preterm or ill infants who require human milk as a medical intervention.

The vision of ómmb is that every baby has a healthy start. It believes that all infants deserve access to human milk regardless of their circumstances. It also values clinical excellence, ethical practice, community education, and research to ensure that the best quality and evidence-based care is provided to its donors and recipients[1][1].

The history and background of ÓMMB

It was founded by a group of passionate mothers, nurses, lactation consultants, physicians, and community leaders who recognized the need for a local milk bank in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of preterm births in the nation, with one in seven babies born premature (~14%). Additionally, Oklahoma has low rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration compared to national averages. These factors contribute to poor health outcomes for Oklahoma babies, such as increased morbidity and mortality.

The founders wanted to change this situation by providing a reliable source of donor human milk for Oklahoma hospitals and families. They started by raising funds, awareness, and support for their cause. They also partnered with the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, which served as a mentor and a temporary processing site. In 2013, received its official nonprofit status and began screening and collecting milk from local donors. In 2015, ómmb opened its own processing facility in Oklahoma City, becoming the 18th HMBANA-accredited milk bank in North America. Since then, It has grown to serve over 40 hospitals and hundreds of families across Oklahoma and neighboring states.

The benefits of human milk for Premature infants

As mentioned earlier, human milk is the optimal nutrition for all infants, but especially for preterm or ill infants who are more vulnerable to infections, NEC, and other complications. Human milk provides several benefits for preterm infants, such as:

ÓMMB

Immunological protection: Human milk contains antibodies, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, lysozyme, and other factors that help fight against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These factors can prevent or reduce the severity of infections, such as sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. Human milk can also modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation in preterm infants.

Gastrointestinal health: Human milk contains oligosaccharides, prebiotics, probiotics, and other components that support the development and function of the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in digestion, metabolism, immunity, and brain development. Human milk can also protect the intestinal mucosa and prevent or reduce the incidence of NEC, a life-threatening condition that causes inflammation and necrosis of the bowel. NEC is one of the leading causes of death and disability in preterm infants.

Neurodevelopmental outcomes: Human milk contains fatty acids, cholesterol, taurine, choline, and other nutrients that are essential for brain growth and development. Human milk can also influence the expression of genes and epigenetic factors that affect brain maturation. Studies have shown that human milk can improve cognitive, language, motor, and behavioral outcomes in preterm infants. Human milk can also reduce the risk of retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that causes abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina and can lead to blindness.

Breastfeeding success: Human milk can stimulate the production of hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin that promote lactation and maternal-infant bonding. Human milk can also enhance the suckling reflex and oral-motor skills of preterm infants. These factors can increase the likelihood of breastfeeding initiation and duration in preterm mothers and infants. Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mothers and infants, such as reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, asthma, allergies, and infections.

How does ÓMMB collect, process, and distribute donor milk?

It follows the strict standards and guidelines set by HMBANA for collecting, screening, processing, and distributing donor human milk. These steps ensure that the donor milk is safe, effective, and consistent for its recipients.

The screening and eligibility criteria for donors

OMMB accepts donations from healthy lactating women who have excess milk to share with babies in need. Potential donors must meet the following criteria:

  • Be in good general health
  • Be willing to undergo a blood test for HIV-1/2 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), HTLV I/II (Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus), Hepatitis B & C (Hepatitis B Surface Antigen & Hepatitis C Antibody), Syphilis (RPR), CMV IgG/IgM (Cytomegalovirus)
  • Be non-smokers or willing to abstain from smoking while donating
  • Be free from illegal drugs or alcohol abuse
  • Be free from medications or herbal supplements that are incompatible with breastfeeding or donating (except for prenatal vitamins or birth control pills)
  • Have a baby who is less than one year old or are currently breastfeeding
  • Have at least 100 ounces of frozen milk to donate
  • Have a freezer that maintains a temperature of -20°C or lower
  • Have access to a hospital-grade electric breast pump
  • Be willing to follow ómmb’s collection and storage guidelines

Potential donors must fill out an online application form on the website and provide consent for screening. it will then contact them to conduct a phone interview and a health history questionnaire. It will also request permission from their health care providers and their baby’s health care providers to verify their eligibility. OMMB will then send them a blood test kit that they can use at a local lab. Once all the screening results are clear.

OMMB will approve them as donors and send them a donor kit that includes milk storage bags, labels, and instructions. It will also assign them a donor number that they must use to identify their milk donations.

The collection and storage guidelines for donors

It asks its donors to follow these guidelines for collecting and storing their milk:

  • Wash their hands before pumping
  • Use a clean, hospital-grade electric breast pump
  • Pump into sterile collection bottles or bags provided by ómmb
  • Label each bottle or bag with their donor number, date, and time of pumping
  • Freeze the milk as soon as possible after pumping
  • Store the milk in the back of the freezer, away from the door
  • Do not combine milk from different pumping sessions or days
  • Do not fill the bottles or bags more than three-quarters full to allow for expansion
  • Do not thaw or refreeze the milk once frozen
  • Keep track of the amount and date of their milk donations

It accepts frozen milk that is less than six months old from the date of pumping. Donors can donate as much or as little as they want, as long as they have at least 100 ounces to donate.

The pasteurization and testing process for donor milk

 testing process for donor milk

Once ómmb receives the frozen milk from the donors, it undergoes a rigorous pasteurization and testing process to ensure its safety and quality. The process involves the following steps:

  • Thawing: The frozen milk is thawed in a refrigerator overnight.
  • Pooling: The thawed milk from different donors is pooled together in batches of about four liters each. The pooled milk is then homogenized to ensure an even distribution of fat and nutrients.
  • Pasteurization: The pooled milk is pasteurized using the Holder method, which involves heating the milk to 62.5°C for 30 minutes. This method kills any harmful bacteria or viruses while preserving most of the beneficial components of human milk.
  • Cooling: The pasteurized milk is rapidly cooled to 4°C in a water bath.
  • Filling: The cooled milk is filled into sterile bottles of 50 ml or 100 ml each. Each bottle is labeled with a batch number, expiration date, and nutritional information.
  • Testing: A sample from each batch is sent to an independent laboratory for microbiological testing. The test results are reviewed by ómmb’s medical director before releasing the batch for distribution. It also tests each batch for caloric content, protein content, and osmolality using a near-infrared analyzer.
  • Freezing: The filled bottles are frozen at -20°C or lower until they are dispensed to the recipient hospitals.

OMMB follows a strict quality control system that monitors every step of the pasteurization and testing process. It also maintains records of all the donors, batches, tests, and recipients for traceability and accountability purposes.

The dispensing and delivery methods for recipient hospitals

It dispenses its donor milk to recipient hospitals that have a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider for an individual infant. It does not sell its donor milk but charges a processing fee of $4.50 per ounce to cover its operational costs. The processing fee may be covered by insurance, Medicaid, or charitable funds depending on the case.

OMMB delivers its donor milk to recipient hospitals using one of these methods:

  • Courier service: It contracts with a courier service that delivers the frozen donor milk in insulated containers with dry ice to ensure proper temperature control. The courier service operates within Oklahoma and neighboring states.
  • Self-pickup: Recipient hospitals can arrange to pick up the frozen donor milk from ómmb’s facility in Oklahoma City using their own transportation and coolers.
  • Shipping: It can ship frozen donor milk to recipient hospitals outside of Oklahoma using FedEx or UPS. The shipping cost is added to the processing fee.

It provides recipient hospitals with instructions on how to store, thaw, warm, and feed donor milk to their infants. It also provides recipient hospitals with educational materials on the benefits and safety of donor milk.

How can you get involved with ÓMMB ?

OMMB relies on the generosity and support of its donors, recipients, partners, and community members to fulfill its mission and vision. There are many ways you can get involved, such as:

How to become a donor or a recipient of ÓMMB

If you are a lactating mother who has excess milk to share with babies in need, you can apply to become a donor on OMMB’s website. You will need to complete an online application form, undergo a blood test, provide consent from your healthcare providers, and follow the collection and storage guidelines. It will provide you with all the necessary supplies and support to make your donation process easy and rewarding.

If you are a parent or a healthcare provider of a preterm or ill infant who needs donor milk, you can contact ómmb to request donor milk. You will need to provide a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider that specifies the amount and duration of donor milk needed for your infant. It will work with you to arrange the dispensing and delivery of donor milk to your hospital.

How to support ÓMMB financially or through volunteering

If you want to support financially, you can make a tax-deductible donation on OMMB’s website. You can choose to make a one-time or recurring donation or sponsor a specific amount of donor milk for an infant in need. You can also participate in OMMB’s fundraising events, such as the annual Milk Run, the Milk and Cookies Gala, or the Milk Money Campaign.

If you want to support ómmb through volunteering, you can sign up on OMMB’s website. You can choose to volunteer in various roles, such as:

  • Milk runner: You can help transport frozen donor milk from donors to the ómmb facility or from OMMB’s facility to recipient hospitals using your own vehicle.
  • Milk processor: You can help process frozen donor milk into pasteurized donor milk using equipment and procedures.
  • Office assistant: You can help with administrative tasks, such as answering phone calls, emails, or mail, filing documents, or entering data.
  • Outreach ambassador: You can help spread awareness and education about ómmb and donor milk in your community, such as hosting information booths, giving presentations, or distributing flyers.

How to spread awareness and education about ÓMMB

If you want to spread awareness and education about ómmb and donor milk, you can share your story or experience on social media, blogs, podcasts, or other platforms. You can also invite your friends, family, colleagues, or neighbors to learn more about it and donor milk by visiting the website.

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Conclusion

ÓMMB is a nonprofit organization that provides safe, pasteurized donor milk to meet the specific medical needs of preterm or ill infants in Oklahoma. ómmb is a lifesaver for these fragile infants who cannot receive their own mother’s milk or need supplemental feedings. Human milk is the optimal nutrition for all infants, but especially for preterm or ill infants who are more vulnerable to infections, NEC, and other complications. Human milk provides immunological protection, gastrointestinal health, neurodevelopmental outcomes, and breastfeeding success for preterm infants.

FAQs

How much donor milk does an infant need?

The amount of donor milk that an infant needs depends on their weight, gestational age, medical condition, and feeding tolerance. Generally speaking, preterm infants need about 150-200 ml per kg per day of human milk. However, this may vary depending on the individual infant’s needs and the availability of donor milk. The healthcare provider of the infant will prescribe the appropriate amount and duration of donor milk for the infant.

How safe is donor milk?

Donor milk is very safe when it comes from a reputable milk bank like ómmb that follows the standards and guidelines set by HMBANA. Donor milk undergoes rigorous screening, pasteurization, and testing processes that eliminate any harmful bacteria or viruses while preserving most of the beneficial components of human milk. Donor milk is also labeled with batch numbers and expiration dates that ensure its traceability and quality control.

How effective is donor milk?

Donor milk is very effective when it is used as a medical intervention for preterm or ill infants who cannot receive their own mother’s milk or need supplemental feedings. Donor milk provides several benefits for preterm infants.

How much does donor milk cost?

Donor milk does not have a price tag, but it has a processing fee that covers the operational costs of ómmb . The processing fee is $4.50 per ounce of donor milk, which is comparable to the cost of formula for preterm infants. The processing fee may be covered by insurance, Medicaid, or charitable funds depending on the case. OMMB does not make any profit from its donor milk but relies on donations and grants to sustain its services.

How can I donate or request donor milk?

If you want to donate or request donor milk, you can visit ómmb website at [www.okmilkbank.org] or call 405-297-LOVE (5683). You can also email us at info@okmilkbank.org or follow us on Facebook at [www.facebook.com/okmilkbank]. It will provide you with all the information and support you need to become a donor or a recipient of donor milk.
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