CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – An increase in donations will allow families in the Lowcountry to purchase breast milk through a nonprofit developed by the Medical University of South Carolina.

Leaders with MUSC said a 20% to 25% increase in breast milk donations to the ‘Mother’s Milk Bank’ will help the group expand its offerings amid a nationwide baby formula shortage.

“Our primary purpose is to help serve the NICU community,” said milk bank manager Lindsay Millonzi. “However, right now, with an increase in donations, we are able to also have that service available to families who might need donor milk.”

Those interested in buying milk from the bank can apply online by filling out the “get involved” form and look for the “I am interested in” option. You can also call 843-792-5415 on weekdays 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m.

After contacting the bank, a team member will call back to review some requirements and the process for receiving the milk.

How do they receive the donated milk? Millonzi said mothers who have an oversupply of breast milk will reach out to the bank. After a 15-minute screening, and if the mom meets the criteria, she will complete a donor packet. The Mom’s OB-GYN will also complete a form and recommend the mother as a donor.

After that, the donating mother will receive a blood test.

“Finally, one of our team members, along with the director, will review the whole chart, from the phone screening, the paperwork, the OB-GYN form, the lab work, make sure everything is within our guidelines. Once mom is approved, we send out a donor packet. And in that donor packet, it will let her know where to donate,” explained Millonzi.

Leaders say there are depots across South Carolina for milk drop-offs.

“Once the milk is on-site, it’s carefully processed and pasteurized by the lab technicians. Following pasteurization, the milk is tested for bacteria to ensure safety and quality,” Millonzi said.

Milk that passes the test is then ready for a request from a hospital, or in this case, a qualified family.

“We’re a nonprofit. We don’t make money off selling milk. The money we get goes to equipment, paying staff, running tests on the milk, buying bottles and supplies, and we provide free breast milk bags to our donors. There’s a lot that goes into it,” explained Millonzi.

The milk bank is supported by MUSC Children’s Health, the South Carolina Neonatal Consortium, the South Carolina Birth Outcomes Initiative and Healthy Me, and Healthy SC. Organizers say it has to stay flexible regarding how much it offers to the hospitals because hospital demand and mothers’ donations vary from month to month.

**Information in this article provided by MUSC Catalyst News.

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