Human Milk Sharing – Part II

(original post published February 2020)

In Support of the San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank

There is no human milk bank in San Diego. Many hospitals in San Diego County have been buying donated milk for premature infants from as far away as Northern California. Families are unable to get locally collected, processed and distributed milk. However, with the help of a financial gift from Hannah and Zachary Johnson, the UC San Diego Health will create the region’s first breastmilk bank (The San Diego Union-Tribune) led by Dr. Lisa M. Stellwagen, MD. The goals of the bank are “to help mothers breastfeed, to improve breastmilk donation and to ensure that all premature or ill babies in Southern California have access to donor milk” (UC San Diego Health).

The process of developing a fully operational breastmilk bank will take place in two phases: First and currently, the San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank is partnering with Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin (MMBA) to begin collecting and screening donated human milk. During what is called the “depot stage”, people interested in donating human milk will work with the Austin Mothers’ Milk Bank to become an approved donor and then bring the milk to the San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank office located at San Diego Blood Bank, whose staff will then ship the milk to Austin. During the second phase or when the bank is fully operational (expected later this year) the human milk can be collected, processed and distributed locally. Parents can also donate milk for research without going through the required screening (UC San Diego Health).

For more information about the milk bank including how to give milk or donate financially, download the MothersMilk app through Google Play or the Apple App store which is “a great resource for learning more about the San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank, tips and videos on learning how to breast feed, catching up on the latest information on breastfeeding and finding local breastfeeding resources” (UC San Diego Health). Interested individuals can also contact the bank at 858-249-1717 or

For more info on why a milk bank is so needed and how milk sharing is helping families, see Nurturely’s previous blog post on human milk sharing.

About the author: India Olchefske, MPH, has a Master’s in Public Health from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s from the University of Chicago. Her graduate thesis focused on how the opioid epidemic affects rural pregnant women. She has worked at a variety of direct service, research and policy organizations with a focus on women’s and maternal health. She is currently pursuing a career as a ballet dancer in addition to public health.