TAMPA — Got milk?
The Green Mommy store in Tampa does.
The store recently opened a Breast Milk Depot, where it will store screened and tested donor human milk to help premature babies in need.
The Green Mommy donations, which go into a special freezer, will ship to the Mother's Milk Bank of Florida, which will test, pasteurize and distribute the milk to neonatal intensive care units statewide.
Mothers of premature infants often have difficulty producing milk for about seven to 10 days, said Linda Califf, the milk bank's executive director.
Ten to 17 percent of infants born premature contract necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal illness, due to formula use. The illness leads to death or lifelong complications. Human milk reduces the instances of necrotizing enterocolitis, fighting infection and providing nutrition.
Only 21 milk banks exist in the United States. All operate under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Mother's Milk Bank of Florida opened in Orlando in June 2015.
Founded by a board of directors, the milk bank has approved 380 donors and supplied 252,000 ounces of milk.
"Every now and then I get a shocked response from people after I tell them about our milk bank," said Califf. "I hear things like 'Where do you get the milk?' 'Is that safe for the babies?' or just plain 'Ew.' "
"However, most of the time I hear 'That's amazing, why did we not have a milk bank sooner?' "
Some donors had neonatal intensive care unit babies themselves. Others simply produce an oversupply.
Many come from the Tampa Bay area, so Green Mommy owner Shannon Green offered her store as a depot.
Green, a certified lactation consultant, hosts weekly breastfeeding groups at the store. When Robin Watson, a fellow lactation counselor and owner of Tampa Bay Breastfeeding, suggested Green Mommy become a drop-off site, Green held a fundraiser to buy the needed $1,500 freezer.
The site opened Oct. 28.
"I think its important for moms to know there is a place they can donate their milk to," Green said. "So many have extra and just don't know what to do with it."
To donate, mothers must first contact Mother's Milk Bank of Florida for a screening, which includes a blood test and medical clearance from an obstetrician and pediatrician. Once approved, a donor number is given. They can then utilize the depot site.
For more information, visit milkbankofflorida.org or call 407-248-5050. The Green Mommy is at 8802 Rocky Creek Drive, Suite 108, Tampa. Visit greenmommystore.com.