CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The liquid of life is in low supply.
Many of us are familiar with food and blood banks. There are also milk banks all over the country. They serve babies, but that mission is threatened.
Breast milk donations are dropping, as demand goes up.
“Breast milk always makes a big difference when we have a compromised baby or sick baby,” said Laurie Beck, lactation coordinator of Corpus Christi’s Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Banked breast milk is typically sent to neonatal intensive care units. That is where the babies born too soon go. Karyn Salazar-Vega has two of them.
“You're just pumping every two hours. You're pumping, calling the NICU to make sure your baby is ok,” she said
Karyn's youngest child, Violet, spent two weeks in the hospital. She was born six weeks early. What helped Violet pick up her strength was her mother's milk.
"It makes a difference in a baby's life, which is why it's so important,” Beck said.
Beck's milk stash spills way past the Coastal Bend.
“We're providing for other states, we're providing for all of Texas.”
Driscoll is a drop-off site for the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin. Beck recorded a count of 34 moms who donated to the hospital in 2020, making 23,000 ounces.
“We had a lot of moms, a lot of activity. I think everybody was interested in giving.”
The interest didn't last. The 2021 count is at 21 moms who donated a combined 21,000 ounces of breast milk.
“After, probably late 2020, last year, things kind of slowed down,” said Beck.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America now expresses an urgent need for donors. Healthy mothers can give all the way up to their baby's first birthday. Milk banks even take stored frozen milk that also is not older than a year.
The Corpus Christi Driscoll milk center's coverage is everything south of San Antonio. Mothers living within that area may reach out to Beck and her team by calling (361) 694-4234.