Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa in need of donors, only enough milk to go 'day-by-day'

CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - Leaders with the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa say there is a serious shortage of breast milk in their facility- and they are looking for donors who can help meet an increasing demand both in the state and across the country.

Staff at the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa prepare milk for distribution at their Coralville facility on November 7, 2019. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)

Jean Drulis, the co-founder and director of the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa says they typically go through more than 1,000 ounces of milk per day, preparing available milk and then transporting it where it is needed. Drulis said most of that milk ends up going to babies that are born early. The milk bank operates through the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where about twenty percent of the milk ends up.

According to a recent study from the March of Dimes, about one in ten babies in Iowa (9.9%) are born premature; that rate marks the highest its been in the last ten years. Drulis said a large amount of the milk at their facility goes to helping babies in newborn intensive care units, since often times mothers are not yet producing their own milk.

For those that visit the facility, they might see coolers and freezers filled with milk, but Drulis said looks can prove deceiving; the milk bank only has enough milk at this point to run on a "day-by-day" basis. Drulis said its their goal to increase awareness to bring the totals up to help more people.

"The search never ends because it's a finite time period when women are lactating," Drulis said. "And the demand continues to increase. And especially within the hospitals and in the NICU. So that demand means we need to find more and more donors."

Drulis says it is her goal eventually to be synonymous with a blood bank, as far as recognition. She said often time mothers may not realize they can donate extra milk.

"I just hate to think of women who find out they have, at the end of their lactation journey, have extra milk and it goes down the drain, when it could go into the tummies of [premature born babies] and other babies," Drulis said. "So we just want that awareness to keep growing so that some day everybody knows it."

Drulis said she is incredibly thankful for the donors they currently have and have had in the past, since it has helped them since opening in 2002.

In order to donate or to get more information, visit the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa information website or call 319-384-9930.