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Utah mom selling almost 4,000 ounces of breast milk as baby formula shortage continues

Posted at 9:19 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 12:03:06-04

TOOELE, Utah — Alyssa Chitti has three freezers full of breastmilk.

“I figure I'm running out of room, so might as well help someone else," she said laughing. “I know I have over 3,000 ounces. 3,000 ounces downstairs and probably almost 1,000 upstairs.”

At first, she wanted to donate it all to a local milk bank, but it was much easier to list it online.

“I have looked into it," said Chitti. "I was working with a group on it, but my daughter has SMA, and we've been in and out of primaries, and so it's just been hard to go do the bloodwork and go do all the other stuff, and that's the only thing that stopped me from doing that part.”

READ: Utah moms help each other find baby formula as shortage sweeps the nation

Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank would need more than 300 donors to meet the needs in the community. During this donor shortage, they’ve gotten down to 175. Even if hundreds of women volunteered to donate today, it would still take months for the bank to meet the demand, said Mary Callahan, the milk bank's clinical coordinator.

“The donor screening process, because we are very thorough and it does require blood tests, on average, it takes about four to six weeks," Callahan said. "We do have donors that are motivated that can get it done in two. It would probably take us two to three months to really get to where we can start looking at providing for the outward community that's outside of the hospital.”

Chitti was hoping to sell her breast milk at $1 per ounce, but she’s willing to negotiate with moms because she understands what they’re going through, she said.

“It was making me nervous, just because so my daughter was very, very colicky," said Chitti. "And I know a lot of moms need specific formulas for babies with upset tummies, and I know how hard it can be when they're upset. There's nothing you can do about that stomach pain.”

Days after the FOX 13 News story aired, Chitty began receiving negative feedback about her decision, which led her to stop selling the breast milk.

Buying and selling breast milk online is perfectly legal; however, it is unregulated. When human milk is obtained directly from individuals or through the internet, the donor is unlikely to have been screened for infectious diseases or contamination risk, according to the FDA.

The Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank shared a statement on the process the group uses to donate breast milk.

"Our goal is for human milk donation to be a smooth and easy process for anyone choosing to make this incredible gift. We partner with 20+ sites across Utah and Southern Idaho where donors can complete blood work and drop off milk, and are adding more regularly. We will work directly with individuals who may not have access to one of our traditional sites. The other steps can be completed from home.

"We do not want to discourage anyone from donating, no matter when they choose to begin the process. The time it takes from first contact with MWMMB to making the first donation is highly variable, and we are bringing on extra staff to help with the increased response from our communities. Once we receive the milk, we can process it and send it back to hospitals within about 10 days.

"And, we don't just need donor milk today, we need milk to consistently come into the Milk Bank. Hospitals use Pasteurized Donor Milk throughout the year.. We can use donated milk for several months after it is donated, so that we can continue to provide this critical medical nutrition source for the tiniest members of our community."