Hattiesburg Woman Helps Supply Forrest General Milk Depot
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (July 9, 2020) While businesses and individuals donated meals and snacks to Forrest General healthcare professionals and others during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a Hattiesburg woman, Coty Scott, making special donations of her own.
The recipients of Scott’s donations, however, are much younger – NICU babies across the state. For a number of years, Scott has been donating her excess breast milk to Forrest General’s Milk Depot on a regular basis. The depot provides mothers and babies with access to human breast milk from a donor. Celebrating its seventh anniversary this summer, the Milk Depot was instituted during the summer of 2013 and has served countless numbers of children since then.
The demand for human donor milk in hospital neonatal intensive care units continues to rise. Michelle Roberts, a certified lactation specialist at Forrest General, said she has noticed more mothers feeding or at least interested in attempting to breastfeed.
“And there is definitely still a need to be a donor,” she said. “To become a donor, they have to contact the milk bank where they will fill out a questionnaire, then they have labs drawn at a local lab, and then, once they get their donor number, they can drop off the milk to us.”
Roberts explained that some mothers are unable to provide their own breast milk because of a lack of supply or for medical reasons. And, many times mothers who give birth to premature babies are in a fragile or critical condition themselves and are unable to breastfeed and provide their babies with the nutrients they need the most. These mothers rely on donor milk as the primary source for their premature infant’s nutrition.
Scott has noticed a difference in the health of her children, noting that if they get sick, it’s only for a day or two compared to an entire week. And the high fat content in her milk has been great for treating her son’s eczema when placed in his bath water.
Scott isn’t alone in her donations, but whereas most donors donate once every couple of months, Scott donates monthly. Roberts estimates that Scott probably donates about 1,500 ounces or 11.75 gallons of milk each month.
Before moving back home to south Mississippi, Scott also donated in both Oklahoma and Texas where she and her husband, a member of the Navy, and their young family lived. After the birth of her son, now 6, she donated as much as 50 to 75 gallons. After he was fed, she would pump and freeze anything extra.
Her fourth child, a daughter who is now 10 months old, was an IUGR baby, a baby who doesn’t grow at a normal rate inside the womb and had to be hospitalized in Jackson. It was here that Scott saw the plight of other mothers who struggled with breastfeeding and wanted to do what she could to help. “It broke my heart to see these mothers worry about providing enough milk to feed their babies,” she said. “If I could take one less worry away (by providing milk for them), then that’s what I wanted to do. I’m glad that somebody can use it, and it’s not wasted.”
Hattiesburg and 11 other cities around the state serve as milk depots. Once the milk is delivered to the Mississippi Milk Bank in Flowood, it goes through testing and a pasteurization process before being sent out to NICUs’ around the state.
Hattiesburg physicians, Randy and Anita Henderson, both sit on the state board of directors for the milk bank. Dr. Randy Henderson is a neonatologist at Forrest General. Dr. Anita Henderson is a pediatrician at The Pediatric Clinic, Hattiesburg Clinic, PA,. and is president-elect of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Women who are currently breastfeeding infants under one year old are eligible to be screened at no charge to become breast milk donors. The Milk Depot at Forrest General makes it easier for all Hattiesburg-area donors to donate this valuable and scare resource that has life-saving impact.
To learn more about the Milk Depot at Forrest General, visit msmilkbank.org, or call 601-939-5504.
CAPTION: Coty Scott with husband, Sean, and children, Mackie, Waylon, Kennie, and Rowan.