It is said the spirit of the holidays is in what people give to others. Marion resident Jenile Taylor donates her excess breast milk to the Heart of America Mother’s Milk Bank at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City Mo. The milk is given to babies whose mothers cannot produce breast milk or cannot produce enough, babies who are adopted, and babies in hospitals.
Taylor said she started donating with her second child, son Quenton, who is now 7.
She got the idea from Quenton’s doctor who previously was a nursing consultant. She first donated to a bank in Colorado. After giving birth to another son, Jaseson, three months ago she decided to find a bank more local to take the excess.
“It was ironic the place closest happened to be another St. Luke’s,” she said. “I did a short phone interview, then filled out paperwork.”
Questions answered by Taylor included details about diet, caffeine consumption, and any medications taken.
The St. Luke’s hospital in Kansas City is not related to Marion’s St. Luke, but the Marion hospital did help Taylor complete blood work to qualify her to donate. After the blood work checked out, the bank sent Taylor coolers to send the milk back in.
Taylor puts excess milk in baggies and freezes them.
“I pack them to the brim and still have a freezer full of milk,” Taylor said. “My mom calls me a milk cow because I have so much excess. I freeze anywhere from eight to 10 bags of milk a day.”
Once the coolers are filled, she packs them with dry ice and ships them overnight to the bank. The bank cannot accept milk from when someone in the family is sick.
So far Taylor has shipped four coolers full of milk, more than 2,000 ounces — 125 lbs. — to the bank.
“At least someone can use it,” she said. “It makes me feel good because I will never have use for it and it will just go to waste.”
Taylor said she has a strong relationship with Nancy Petcoff of the bank because she donates so much.
“So many moms like Jenile want to help, and Jenile is such a trooper,” Petcoff said. “She is always so happy to help.
Petcoff said the bank has 500 people currently in the process of donating at any given point.
“Sometimes women who have lost a baby donate to cope with their loss. It gives me shivers to think of the moms that so badly want to help, and we genially appreciate their donations.”
She said people who live in certain places out of the United States, those who smoke, or have had a blood transfusion within the last four months cannot donate.
The milk can be kept by the bank for up to a year. According to Petcoff, there are 13 banks in the country; she regularly sends milk across the country.
“First priority is babies currently in hospitals around our area,” Petcoff said.
Mothers can either receive milk for short or long terms.
“We take many steps to make sure the milk is clean and safe,” she said. “After each step, the milk is tested to make sure it’s not contaminated.”