Breast milk bank comes to Oklahoma

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Updated: 3/28/2013 9:29 am Published: 3/27/2013 10:08 pm

Oklahoma mothers can soon donate their breast milk to a local breast milk bank.

Starting April 1st the Oklahoma Breast Milk Bank will start screening donors for its Oklahoma City location at The University of Oklahoma Medical. 

President Anne Darnell-Gillingham thought of the idea to have a state run non-profit breast milk bank a couple years ago when she was talking to her pregnant friend. 

“We were in a class together, I was pregnant with my son, and I said I thought it was a shame we didn’t have a bank here,” said Darnell-Gillingham.

Four and a-half years ago she was pregnant with her daughter, Nellie. Nellie had to be put in The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because she was sick.

“I was there with her every step of the way feeding her as much breast milk as possible and pumping a lot. I pumped more than she needed so I was going to throw it out when a nurse said no that’s liquid gold! You can donate it!”

Darnell-Gillingham donated all of it to the north Texas breast milk bank in Fort Worth. That’s where many mothers in Oklahoma donate their breast milk. 

“After I told my friend about it she took charge and two years later, here we are raised enough funding to become a non-profit, bought the pasteurizing machines and everything and now we will be screening our first donors in a few days and start donations in May!”

Darnell-Gillingham’s non-profit has partnered up with the Oklahoma Blood Institute to have its facilities be places for people to drop off their breast milk or they can always ship it to the bank in OKC. 

Hillcrest Hospital’s lactation consultant and nurse for almost four decades, Cheryl Coleman, cannot wait to tell the mothers she works with about being able to donate their breast milk to a local bank. 

“We hear it a lot, where people are saying I have so much milk is there some place I can donate?” said Coleman. “I think that will make it easier for people if they think my milk is staying in Oklahoma. I think that’s what turned a lot of people off, oh my milk is going to Texas and not staying here, I don’t have a drop off point like Hillcrest.”

Coleman hopes it expands to include local hospitals being a part of the drop off centers. 

President Darnell-Gillingham, on top of being a wife, and mother of two young children, she is also a local judge, she says this breast milk bank means the most to her.

“I’ve accomplished so much in my personal career, but all that is nothing compared to this breast milk bank.  I am so compassionate for children and I want to do all I can to keep them healthy.”

Below are two links to the Oklahoma Breast Milk Bank’s Facebook page and website:

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