Mom donates 14 gallons of breast milk to NICU babies in need

Amanda Lanners needed eight coolers to ship her donated breast milk.

(CNN)There are plenty of ways moms use extra breast milk. They pump it, dump it, save it, bake with it or even drink it (though health experts definitely caution against this). Amanda Lanners, a South Dakota mom of four, decided to donate it instead.

Lanners is currently breastfeeding her youngest child, and it takes only one day for her to pump around 72 ounces of breast milk. That makes for quite a surplus, so on Valentine's Day she donated 14 gallons of it to the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"It got to the point where I had both deep freezers full," the 38-year-old told CNN. "So I had to keep pumping or get rid of it."
She didn't want it to go to waste, so a few months ago she called the lactation specialists at Avera McKennan to see what she could do.
    "I was like, 'I want to donate some breast milk. How do I do this?'" she said.

    The reason

    Lanners says she knows how important breast milk is to babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
    She says she spent time in the NICU when her friend gave birth to two boys -- both born premature. While she was there, the nurses discussed with Lanners how important breast milk was to these babies.
    "I have this ability to pump and make milk," she said. "I want to go ahead and help out those little kiddos that need it."
    Amanda Lanners' deep freezers were filled with bags of frozen breast milk.

    The process

    Donating breast milk is a thoughtful idea, but there is definitely some red tape you have to go through to make it happen. Lynn Josten, a lactation specialist at Avery McKennan, said that milk donations are similar to blood donations. The people donating must go through screenings,in which they discuss, among other things, the health of the donor and their family.
    Lanners had to get in contact with a representative at the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa, on the University of Iowa's campus. She had a 20-minute phone conversation and then had to fill out a 30- to- 40-page form. The milk bank asked whether she was on any medication at the time of pumping and whether she took any supplements. Then the local clinic drew her blood to make sure she was healthy.
    "The whole process took about three to four weeks," Lanners said.
    Josten said that once the screening is completed, the milk is shipped to the milk bank.
    All in all, eight coolers filled with Lanners' frozen breast milk bags were shipped to Iowa. Her milk would be enough to help around 2,000 babies, Lanners said. Even though she made the donation two months ago, a representative from Avera McKennan said the hospital just recently made the news public.
    "The biggest reason why I wanted to do this (was) to bring awareness," Lanners said. "With how many little kids that are in the NICU right now they need every bit of help that they can get."
    Lanners said she wants to donate more, since she keeps adding to her frozen milk supply every day.
    "This is just one less thing for mommies to worry about," Lanners said. "That's really what it comes down to."