Born To Be Breastfed > Uncategorized > How to Save a Life with Kim Updegrove

How to Save a Life with Kim Updegrove

Kim Updegrove, Executive Director of the Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin TX and immediate past president of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), helped me think about the “supply and demand” of breastfeeding in a way I’ve never thought about it before.

This past year, HMBANA-regulated milk banks dispensed 3.2 million ounces of human milk to very, very small preterm infants throughout the United States.

Does that sound like a lot? It is—and yet it doesn’t even come close to meeting the need. HMBANA milk banks received requests for about 9 million ounces of human milk during that time. In other words, HMBANA was able to help only about one-third of the critically-ill infants who needed life-saving milk.

Human milk is not best; it is vital for these premature infants. According to Kim, when milk banks are unable to meet infants’ needs for human milk, the shortage of supply leaves many (or even most) of them waiting to die. The most fragile infants in need of human milk cannot survive on artificial formula.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference between life and death. If the mother of a healthy full-term infant collected just 4 ounces of her milk each day for 25 days and donated it to the milk bank, she would meet the milk bank’s minimum requirement and save a baby’s life. In the space of less than 1 month, this mother could be a life-saver.

So maybe the first month of her baby’s life is still too chaotic for the mother to make this commitment. Good news! Milk banks accept milk of mothers up to their baby’s first birthday. Think about this: When your child begins accepting “solid” foods and your “supply” or milk is suddenly quite a bit greater than her “need” for it, you could celebrate your baby’s reaching such a fun developmental milestone by donating the extra milk your body makes to help another baby grow.

You see, life-and-death decisions aren’t always heroic, headline-making acts. You don’t have to run into a burning building or oncoming traffic to save a baby’s life. You can save a baby even as you nurse our own child, by saving a few ounces at a time and getting them into the hands of a milk bank. (Even easier: you may be reaching your baby’s first birthday and find yourself with a freezer stash of milk you know she’ll never consume.)

Less than a month of pumping. A simple phone call. That’s all it might take to help save a baby’s life. Want to know more about donating? You can listen to our show podcast—then call Kim at the Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin, toll-free at 877-813-6455.

Call now—by Thanksgiving—and mention “Born to be Breastfed” or “Marie Biancuzzo,” and we will enter you into a random drawing to receive a $50 Amazon gift card. (You don’t need to donate in order to enter this contest.)
Calling is the first step. Donating milk is the second step. Being a hero just takes a small commitment. 
Share Button