Currents News Staff
Meghan Doyle is one of the growing number of moms donating their extra supply of breast milk. The U.S. Navy pilot and mother of 5-month-old June says the baby formula shortage has inspired her to step up.
“As a sailor and in the Navy and an officer you learn to be selfless,” said Lt. Doyle. “So this is just another way to give that selfless service back to our country.”
Every drop is making an impact. Donations are pouring in at the University of California health milk bank in San Diego. Executive Director Lisa Stellwagen says they’ve seen a fivefold increase in people signing up to donate.
“The unexpected response to this formula shortage has been the outpouring of desire to help other people from families in our community,” said Lisa. “We had a call from a young woman who wanted to try to lactate so she could help us. She does not even have a child.”
That surge in donations meant the nonprofit could expand its supply at a time when families are struggling to find formula on store shelves to feed their babies.
“It could be a child born and adopted, a child born via surrogate pregnancy and the family isn’t going to have access to the mother’s milk,” said Lisa.
Thanks to that generosity, hospitals relying on the milk bank are able to send new families home with a lifeline.
UC San Diego Pediatrician Michelle Leff says the donations are critical for women who are not able to produce any milk or enough of it, including those with biological or medical limitations.
“Approximately half of our newborns need some amount of supplementation,” said Dr. Michelle. “And I would say that 75% of those choose to use the donated human milk.”
Back at the milk bank, before the “precious liquid” reaches hospitals or homes, donors are required to take a questionnaire, get written clearance from a physician and take a blood test. Then the donated milk is pastuerized and tested.
Moms are taking action and helping each other during this desperate time.
“It actually makes me feel really sad,” said Liezl Macalintal, a milk donor. “But also happy that I’m able to help you know.”