MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG)– With so many families scrambling to find formula, more women are stepping up to donate their extra milk. One group in Tennessee is getting that milk to the most vulnerable.
“It’s the best thing in the world. She’s my first,” Alexis Anderson said.
Her daughter Tru is in the NICU at Regional One hospital in Memphis. Due to transportation, they only get to see her on certain days of the week.
“I started off breastfeeding in the hospital. I did it the whole month of May when she was born and some of June,” she said.
But then she said she couldn’t produce the amount of milk Tru needed.
To add to the stress, supply chain issues and recalls have caused a formula shortage across the country. Over the past few months, parents found empty shelves. It’s left them desperate and wondering how they’ll feed their child.
In late July, the FDA touted progress but reported one-third of powdered formula products are still out of stock, and premature formulas are among the mix.
Regional One staff said they haven’t had an issue getting formula for babies in the NICU, but not all of their babies take it. The hospital gets donated breast milk.
“The milk is so precious for our babies. We call it the medication for our babies,” Christy Brooks said.
She’s the lactation nurse coordination at the hospital. She said human milk can prevent deadly intestinal infections and provide better outcomes.
“Breast milk provides antibodies, proteins and fats that are really important for our babies, especially for our micro-preemie babies,” she said.
Regional One gets its donor milk from the Mother’s Milk Bank of Tennessee based in Murfreesboro. They collect the donated milk and send it to the bank. The bank then screens, pasteurizes, and distributes it.
It doesn’t give milk to mothers directly, but they’re working to have an outpatient program available in 2023.
For now, the milk goes to the hospitals across the state to preemies like Tru.
The formula shortage has also encouraged more mothers to step up. Milk banks across the country, including the one in Tennessee, report that they’re getting more mothers calling. They want to donate whatever milk they have. Some banks report five times the amount of calls.
“It’s like supporting moms who can’t produce milk for their babies. For them to do that, that’s a blessing,” Anderson said.
Tru was just shy of one pound, three ounces when she was born. When we met her seven weeks later, she’d doubled her weight.
“She’s doing good. No health problems. Just growing,” her mom said. “I can’t wait until she gets home.”
For more information about donating: Click here.