Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes is our third quarter charity partner as part of our Little Lake County Gives Back program,  a community outreach effort to connect not-for-profit organizations with our readers. For more information on the program, please contact Melissa at

The entire staff of the Mothers’ Milk Bank WGL next to the shiny, new pasteurizer. From left to right, Russ Moskal, Pasteurization Coordinator, Summer Kelly, Executive Director, Susan Urbanski, Outreach Coordinator. Photo Courtesy of Mothers’ Milk Bank WGL.

Photo courtesy of Milk Bank WGL.

Breast milk is liquid gold to new moms. For some mothers, milk supply needs to be steadily built; however moms are natural breast milk geysers and simply looking at her new cherub causes Old Faithful to erupt. Again.

So, what to do with all of this milk?Perhaps you didn’t realize that not only can your baby benefit from this liquid gold, but you can also share the wealth with other newborns. Premies and babies with nutritional deficits and medical needs for this superfood can benefit greatly from your milk if you are able to contribute.

Donating breast milk is easy and it has the potential to save the life of one or perhaps several critically ill infants in your region through a milk bank/charity/outreach program in your community.

We asked Summer Kelly, Executive Director of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes why it is so important for sick babies to receive breast milk, and this is what she had to say:

“Premature babies may weigh as little as one-two pounds at birth. These tiny patients have fragile, immature gastrointestinal systems and many simply cannot tolerate artificial milk substitutes. Some of these babies can obtain a fatal condition, called necrotizing enterocolitits or NEC. This dangerous disorder has a high mortality rate, and we know that human milk provides significant protection against NEC and other deadly disorders.”

Q: Who is eligible to donate breast milk?

A: “Milk donors may be moms with healthy babies at home, moms with sick babies in the hospital or moms who have lost a child and wish to donate milk in their baby’s memory. It is important to remember that the eligibility and screening process for the different types of donors differ. If the mother of a healthy baby wants to donate milk, she should generally:

  • Have at least 100 ounces to donate that is less than six months old (or nine months in a deep freezer)
  • Donate milk before her baby’s second birthday (milk from the first year is reserved for hospitalized infants; milk from the second year is used for older, more stable babies and children in the outpatient setting.)
  • Be in good physical health (this doesn’t mean that you cannot take any medications or that you must be in perfect health.)
  • Want to help local babies in need and support our local non-profit milk bank!
  • IMPORTANT: If a mom wants to honor the memory of her baby by donating milk, Mothers’ Milk Bank accepts any quantity of milk pumped from any time. We never deny this special donation.

Donating milk is easy and quick, especially with the rapidly expanding milk depot network in our region. The donation process begins when you call the milk bank to conduct a prescreen. Moms who qualify are sent a donor packet and are advised where to complete a blood test, the cost of which is covered by the milk bank. This test is very similar to blood donation so if you can donate blood, there is a good chance you can donate milk. When testing comes back negative, mom and baby’s health care providers sign off on the application, and the mother is approved.

At this point, mothers are able to drop off milk at several locations throughout Illinois and Wisconsin metropolitan areas.

After you leave your milk at a depot, milk is shipped to the brand new Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes where it is pasteurized, cultured and sent to hospitals in need of donor human milk. If you do not live near a depot, prepaid shipping can be set up by the milk bank from your very own home.

Please note that if you have a medical condition or take a medication, you likely may still be a donor; call or email to discuss your concerns or questions with the staff. The facility also accepts research milk, so moms who are not approved as donors may still donate milk for clinical research or for internal training and research purposes.

Ms. Kelly reminds us what a special and amazing thing milk donation truly is, and why we are so fortunate to have this new facility in our region.

If you want to help premature and sick babies right here in Lake County and our neighboring communities, donate your milk, your time or a gift to Illinois’ and Wisconsin’s only not-for-profit milk bank, the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. We don’t answer to shareholders or investors; we answer to you — local parents, healthcare providers, and community supporters. Call or email to get involved. Help us improve infant health outcomes, support moms who donate milk after losing their baby and provide milk to struggling low and middle-income families.”

What a beautiful organization; Little Lake County wishes you all the best.

Donor Mom Gina and baby Isabella are proud to share their “mama milk” to honor the memory of twins Lucas and Lilly, born at just 21 weeks gestation. Photo courtesy of Mothers’ Milk Bank WGL.

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