- Why should I donate?
Donated breast milk can help save lives! When babies are born prematurely, moms have a hard time producing the breast milk needed for babies to grow and get the best possible nutrition. Even when moms can produce breast milk, it oftentimes isn’t enough because preterm babies have extra nutritional needs compared to babies who were born full term. The good thing is there are generous moms who have extra breast milk that they can donate through the donor milk program to benefit premature babies. The breast milk these moms donate can be processed into donor milk and other specialty breast milk formulations that are sold to NICUs to help meet the nutritional needs of critically ill preemies. Their donations help provide a 100% breast milk diet at this critical stage. Without it, babies would likely receive formula products made from cow milk. Thank you in advance for being interested in helping spread awareness about breast milk donation to help save preterm babies’ lives.
- Is Prolacta a for-profit company?
Yes, Prolacta Bioscience is a for-profit company that makes a complete line of human milk-based nutritional products available for fragile premature babies. We have invested over $40 million in research, clinical studies and facilities to develop and test our human milk derived products. This world class research and development would not have been possible in a non-profit business model.
- Does Prolacta sell products to the hospital?
Yes, Prolacta only sells its human milk fortifier and other human milk nutritional products to hospitals for use in their Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Insurance covers the costs of products in most cases.
- How do I know if I am a candidate to donate milk?
Almost any nursing mother can donate. If you are healthy with a good medical history, you are a likely candidate. You will need to complete a medical survey, get medical confirmation from your doctor and your baby's pediatrician, have your blood tested for certain infectious diseases and give a cheek cell sample, all at no cost to you. You will be informed of any test results that would indicate a health problem so that you can follow up with your doctor. If all of your results are fine, you can begin to donate breast milk.
- Will I have enough milk for my baby if I donate?
Do not donate milk your baby will need. If you pump after you breastfeed, there is a good chance that your milk supply will increase, allowing you to donate. Additionally, if you maintain this practice, you will generate excess supply as your baby is weaned. Prolacta-affiliated milk banks only want excess milk.
- Can I donate milk that I pumped, collected, and froze prior to being qualified as a donor?
After you become a qualified milk donor, you can donate previously-collected milk as long as it was expressed within the last 10 months and the following conditions are met:
- It was pumped under the same conditions (ie, milk bank-approved medical conditions) as when you became qualified.
- It was frozen immediately after pumping and stored in sealed bags or plastic bottles designed to store human milk (eg, Lansinoh breast milk storage bags). We cannot accept milk that was stored in reused food containers (eg, old dairy milk cartons, juice bottles, or glass containers).
- Must have been continuously frozen. The milk must never have been thawed and refrozen.
- Ideally, each container should include only one pumping.
- Pump parts must have been thoroughly cleaned after each pumping.
- Each bag of milk must be dated with the month, day, and year the milk was expressed. If no expression date is on your bags, we will use your baby’s date of birth to determine the expiration date.
- The milk must be received no later than 10 months after the date of expression (or baby’s date of birth).
- What equipment will I need as a breast milk donor?
After you qualify as a milk donor, the milk bank will provide you with breast milk storage bags for storing your expressed milk. You will need to obtain your own breast pump to express your milk for donation. Prolacta also recommends the purchase and use of an electric breast milk bottle sterilizer, such as the Baby Brezza sterilizer.
- When can I start expressing milk for the milk bank?
You should establish breastfeeding for your own baby before you begin donating. We recommend you wait three to four weeks after your baby's birth to begin the application process to become a breast milk donor, and then only do so if your baby is doing well and gaining weight.
- How should I prepare to express my milk?
- Wash your breasts before each expression.
- Make sure your pump and parts are clean and dry. (See question 10 for pump cleaning instructions.)
- Carefully and thoroughly wash your hands with hot soapy water. Handle your pump and collection containers only after you have washed your hands.
- Collect breast milk into a dry, clean container.
- How do I clean pump parts while pumping for donation?
For the best chance of success in providing milk that meets Prolacta’s requirements, we recommend that milk be expressed using a breast pump and pump parts that were cleaned and sanitized according to Prolacta’s recommended process:
- After each use of your pump, wash the pump parts with hot soapy water and use a nipple brush to clean small areas. Rinse and dry all parts thoroughly.
- A minimum of once per day, sanitize pump parts in boiling water (a rolling boil) for 10 minutes, or use a sanitizer such as the Baby Brezza sterilizer.
- Parts should be completely dried after being cleaned.
- Regular replacement of pump parts that come into contact with breast milk is also recommended.
- How often should I express?
How often you express your milk is up to you. Most donors find it easier to set a time each day to express milk. Most mothers have more milk in the morning, so mornings are a good time to pump. It can be harder to collect milk if you do not express it regularly. Some moms express from one breast while their babies feed from the other.
- Are all donor testing requirements the same for all donor milk programs?
Prolacta has introduced additional safety measures in the qualification of our donors and the collection of donor milk. It is the only organization that includes a safety combination of DNA matching of mom to milk, testing for drugs and adulteration, as well as for HIV-1, HCV, and HBV through PCR testing. Because some of the milk we collect is used to make Prolact+ H2MF human milk-based fortifier, which is a concentrated form of human milk, we do take extra precautions. Some medications that might be considered acceptable for moms nursing their own full-term babies might be harmful to fragile premature babies, especially in the concentrated form.
- Why do you need to do DNA testing?
The DNA matching step is necessary so that the milk we receive is matched to our qualified donors. This safety step ensures that only milk from qualified moms is accepted for production.
We start by having the prospective donor provide a sample of cheek cells that we can use to create a unique Donor ID. We extract the DNA from the cheek cells and use it to create a series of 32 numbers that are unique to that donor. Only identical twins share the same profile. Two of the numbers in the profile tell us whether the DNA comes from a man or a woman.
Once the donors milk arrives, we take a sample of the DNA found in the milk and generate a Milk ID. We then look to make sure that the Donor ID and Milk ID profiles match. We can also see if there are multiple Milk ID profiles in the same donation, indicating there are two or more different mothers’ milk is contained in the donation.
The only information that we generate about the donor from her DNA are the Donor and Milk IDs. We do not generate any other genetic information about the donor. The Donor ID contains no information about the donor’s health or heredity. Prolacta does not retain samples of the donor’s isolated DNA once the matching of donor to donation is complete. The only thing that is retained is the 32 number Donor ID.
While there are other ways to match a donor to a tissue sample, this technique is considered the most accurate and is the gold standard.
- What is qualified milk?
Qualified milk is donated milk which has met all the qualification guidelines. This includes two main phases: qualification of the donor and qualification of the milk she donates. Qualification of the donor includes medical history screening, freezer qualification, DNA profile creation, and viral blood screening. After the donor qualification is completed, she may send her milk to the milk bank. Once the milk is received at Prolacta Bioscience it must undergo and pass several rigorous testing procedures, including but not limited to, bacterial screening, drug screening, and DNA matching. Upon successful completion of these screening procedures, the milk is considered qualified for use in making 100% human milk nutritional products for use in the NICU.
- How should I store the milk prior to shipping?
Ideally, each pumping should be placed in a separate container and frozen immediately. However, if the freezer is unavailable at the time, the milk may be refrigerated for up to 12 hours before transferring to the qualified freezer.
- How do I send my breast milk donation?
Prolacta provides all qualified donors with cold shipping containers to ship the breast milk directly to Prolacta Bioscience at no cost to you, and you don't even have to leave your home. Prolacta makes arrangements for your donations to be picked up from your doorstep.
- Does Prolacta and the donor milk program have a confidentiality policy?
Yes. All health information collected about donors remains confidential.
- Will only babies receive my donated milk?
Nearly all the breast milk donated will go to sick infants in hospitals after being processed into safe standardized donor milk and human breast milk products at Prolacta Bioscience. Following screening, testing, formulation and processing, the specialized milk formulations are sold to hospitals for use in the NICU. A small portion of donated milk may be used for ongoing human breast milk research.
- Will I be paid for my donations?
You will be compensated $1/ounce for every qualified ounce of milk that you donate, beginning from the FIRST shipment. Please see the donor agreement for additional information. Reimbursement is for time and effort. Milk volume is used as an indirect measure of time and effort for milk donation. Milk volume will be as determined by Prolacta, in its sole discretion. Prolacta will weigh the milk, at the time and in the condition that it is received at Prolacta’s facility, and calculate the volume based on measured weight, excluding any packaging materials, using Prolacta’s standard operating procedures.
- Are the payments I receive from Prolacta subject to tax?
Yes, this income will be reported to the tax authorities and Prolacta will provide you with a Form-1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income at the end of the calendar year in which you were paid. The income will be reported as non-employee compensation. We recommend you set aside 50% of any payments you receive from us to assist in paying any tax that may be due. However, since each individual’s tax situation is different and filings can be done differently, we recommend you consult with your personal tax adviser regarding your particular situation.
- Where does my breast milk go once I donate?
Once you qualify as a donor, you send your breast milk directly to Prolacta’s processing facility where it is tested, processed, pasteurized and made into nutritional formulations for premature infants in NICUs throughout the country.
- What if I only want to make a one-time donation? I’ve been pumping extra milk for months and I have too much breast milk.
One time donations are welcome. Please tell us how much you have in storage and how long it has been stored.
- After lactation begins, how long can a nursing mother donate breast milk?
There is no time limit on how long you can donate your milk. Since Prolacta Bioscience blends and formulates the milk specifically for preterm babies, there is less concern about minor variations in nutrients that may occur later in lactation.
- What if I have taken medications?
Check with the donor milk program coordinator about any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter remedies (those you can buy without a prescription from your doctor). If you begin taking medications after you have been qualified to donate, please notify the milk bank. Your milk will be tested for any illicit drug use and will be tested for other contaminants.
- What if I am ill?
Please contact the milk bank whenever you are feeling ill or if anyone in the family is ill.
- Can I drink alcohol while donating?
Yes. Donors can consume up to two (2) units of alcohol daily. Prolacta defines a unit of alcohol as one (1) shot. A ‘shot’ is roughly 1 ounce. This is equivalent to one glass of wine or one 12 oz. bottle of beer. If you consume more than 2 units per day, please wait 48 hours before pumping for donation.
- What do I do if I go out of town?
Expressing when you are away from home can help you maintain your milk supply, especially if you are away from your baby. However, any milk that is expressed while you are traveling cannot be donated because we cannot ensure that the temperature of the milk was properly maintained.
- Does Prolacta participate in milk sharing?
No. We are not involved with nor do we promote milk sharing. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration), AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), Health Canada and European authorities have made statements that milk sharing via the internet is an unsafe practice.
- How do you determine the donor qualification and milk storage requirements?
The milk that is collected through Prolacta-affiliated milk banks is tested, pasteurized and formulated into nutritional products that are given to very fragile premature babies. For this reason, Prolacta has developed strict guidelines for donor qualification and milk storage. Donated milk is used to produce all the products in Prolacta’s portfolio, including Prolact+ H2MF®, the only human milk-based human milk fortifier, which is concentrated up to 10 times standard human milk. This concentration step requires Prolacta to be even more vigilant in maintaining donor qualification and milk safety.
- Why does Tiny Treasures occasionally put a hold on new applications?
We only accept donations to meet the current and foreseeable needs of our hospital NICU partners. From time to time, new applications are put on hold when the generous supply from our existing donor base is sufficient to meet the current need. We recommend interested applicants check back regularly for updates, or enter your information here http://www.tinytreasuresmilkbank.com/donate-breast-milk, and we will notify you when applications re-open. This does not affect any current Tiny Treasures donors.
- How can your hospital milk bank and other charitable partners continue to accept new donor applications even when Tiny Treasures has a hold on new applications?
We have a commitment to our hospital milk banks and charitable partners to make a donation for each ounce of donor milk collected. We do not limit their applications so that we can continue to honor this commitment. You can have confidence knowing that when your application is accepted by Tiny Treasures, we will meet our commitments to you as well.