How Mountain West Mother’s Milk is Saving Infant Lives

This article is presented by Mountain west Mother’s Milk. Nonprofit milk banks are there to support the other 70 percent.

By Eric Openshaw on October 12, 2018

The following article is presented by Mountain West Mother’s Milk. MWMMB promotes infant health and nutrition by screening, processing, and dispensing donor human milk.


What is a Milk Bank?


Only 30 percent of newborn ICU mothers can supply enough milk for their premature infant. Nonprofit milk banks are there to support the other 70 percent who either cannot express any milk or express quantities too low for infant sustainability. Milk banks screen high-producing milk donors, pasteurize and then test the milk to assure quality and safety for newborn ICU infants, then distribute it to hospitals for those infants in need. Milk banks also work to increase breastfeeding rates, to increase the supply of donor milk, and as non-profit organizations, to keep costs as low as possible. Unlike for-profit milk banks, only the mothers and infants benefit.

Why is Breast Milk Important?

Breast milk provides nutrient and non-nutrient benefits that cannot be provided by infant formulas. Exclusively breastfed infants experience fewer infections and allergies. They have better cognitive and behavioral development. And they grow up to have lower rates of asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Who is Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank?

Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank is a Utah-based organization with a mission to promote infant health and nutrition by screening, processing, and dispensing donor human milk.

MWMMB has grown from 5 to 27 active milk collection centers, in Utah and Idaho, over the past four years, with each collection center averaging over 4,000 ounces (35 gallons of human milk) per year.

After collection, the milk is pasteurized at a sister facility in Colorado. Once it is pasteurized and safe for preemie use, the milk is then made available to all neonatal care units in Utah and Idaho. While the nation as a whole is experiencing a shortage of donor milk, MWMMB’s efforts have enabled all 21 hospitals in Utah and Idaho with newborn ICUs to have guaranteed access to a donor human milk supply as needed. And importantly, depending on the location, up to 50% of preemies who received human milk in 2016 were from low to moderate income families.

Who does MWMMB Serve, and How Do They Benefit?

Fewer than 30 percent of mothers with an infant in a newborn ICU can sustain their own milk supply to discharge. An exclusive human milk diet allows preterm infants to tolerate and advance to full feedings faster, go home sooner, and experience fewer complications. One life-threatening complication, necrotizing enterocolitis, may be reduced by almost 80 percent. Use of donor human milk rather than formula to supplement premature infants’ diets can thus be life-saving.

How Does MWMMB Get Access to Milk?

The heart of Mountain West Mother’s Milk Bank’s success is their ability to connect with lactating moms who produce more milk than their infants can consume. Much like a blood bank, MWMMB has a special process to screen potential donors. Once a donor mom is accepted, she can drop milk off at one of their community donor and outreach center collection centers.

How Can Our Community Participate?

There are many ways to help.

Moms can donate milk, and talk about the importance of human milk with peers, friends and family.

Physicians can order pasteurized donor human milk in your facility; discuss this evidence based practice with peers.

Philanthropists can donate to a cause that has true meaning and directly affects the health outcome of fragile human life. You are helping to give life.

Clinicians can help to improve practice and policy in your organization and hospital.

Volunteers can assist in many ways. Call them and they can help find a fit for you so you can become involved in this very special service for Utah.

What is the Process for Becoming a Milk Donor?

1 – Qualify

You first need to apply and qualify as a donor. Call Mountain West Mother’s Milk Bank toll-free at 877-367-9091 for information and to get started.

You are likely to qualify as a donor if:

  • The milk you have previously pumped has been continuously frozen solid since pumping
  • You are not taking medication or herbs on a regular basis
  • Your baby is healthy and growing normally
  • You are in good health
  • You do not smoke, drink alcohol, or do illicit drugs
  • You have not received blood or blood products in the past 12 months
  • You have no history of hepatitis (after age 11)
  • You have not have a history of intimate contact with anyone at risk for HIV/AID

2 – Blood Sample

You will need to have your blood drawn. You will be sent a packet containing forms that need to be filled out. You will also receive a blood-draw kit with specific instructions to follow. Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank will cover all costs involved with screening.

3 – Drop Off Milk

Take the blood sample and the milk you want to donate directly to a drop-off location.

Additional Information:

Toll free donor contact number – 1.877.367.9091

Email –

Website –

Facebook – giveyourmilk

Instagram – giveyourmilk

Twitter – giveyourmilk

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