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Milk Bank Scotland

Thank you for donating your milk for research. We appreciate your consideration at this difficult time and would be grateful if you could complete the record form: 

We believe that every bereaved family across Scotland should have the choice to donate breast milk in memory of their baby and commemorated on our Memory Milk Tree in the milk bank at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

All families who donate after loss, can have their baby’s name added to the tree. We also gift a Memory Milk Pebble with the baby’s name to remember their precious gift to others. These are available at any time during the donation journey or afterwards by filling out the Memory Tree Consent Form further below. Families are also welcome to visit the Memory Milk Tree by calling 0141 232 7973 or emailing donor.milkbank@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Continuing to express

Although milk donation does not suit everyone, some families find comfort in continuing to express and donating. We would encourage you to discuss this with the healthcare team caring for you to help make a decision that feels right for you. They can also give you advice about expressing, including how soon to start and how often to express. 

To support you to express your breastmilk, we have organised a free pump loan and set for you to use whilst donating.

Your healthcare team or the Milk Bank will be able to give you the special code for this. Simply add the code when completing the form.

A pump will be delivered to you as soon as possible, usually the next working day. You will have to use a Debit or Credit Card to place the order which will be charged 30p. This will be refunded once the order is processed. If this is not an option for you, please get in touch with the milk bank on 0141 232 7973 or email donor.milkbank@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Please use these links for instructions on how to use the pump.

How will your milk help

Donor milk is recommended for premature and sick babies when their own mother’s milk is not available especially in the early days after birth. We provide milk to all the Neonatal Units across Scotland and to families at home in special circumstances.

Thank you for thinking of others at this difficult time and we hope you take some small comfort in knowing your precious milk donation has helped other babies. 

Screening Process

We want to make the screening process as simple as possible. The healthcare team caring for you and your baby can talk you through this and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes your milk cannot be used directly to feed other babies. For example, if you smoke, vape or are on certain medications. In these circumstances, we offer you the choice to donate your milk for research and other purposes like ensuring best practice in the milk bank. You can get the link to both of the consent forms below.

We may also need to have a blood sample from you. These can be taken prior to discharge or by your GP and posted back to us. We provide a special kit for this.

If you have milk stored at home, we can arrange to collect your milk at a convenient time for you. Simply complete the collection form below.  

We also have dedicated Instagram and twitter accounts for bereaved families where, if you would like, we can share your baby’s story on our Instagram or Twitter

In order for your baby’s name to be painted on to the Memory Milk Tree and to create your pebble, we need to check your baby’s name and get your consent for both questions. 

There is a screening process which all potential donors need to go through before donating. Please read all sections before completing the screening form.

By completing the screening form you are agreeing that you have read the information provided, are giving consent to proceed: 

  • Understand milk cannot be returned once donated 
  • Consenting to a sample of blood being tested for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis 
  • Consenting for a positive blood result to be shared with your GP 
  • Consenting to information about you, your health and donations being stored on a database 
  • Consenting to your milk being used for research purposes 

We cannot accept milk from women who: 

  • smoke, or are using nicotine replacement therapy or are vaping  
  • regularly drink more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol once or twice per week 
  • take certain medications including antidepressants, high blood pressure medication and certain pain killers 

We also ask that you keep caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, soft drinks) to a minimum.  

If you have stored milk please add, in the section asking for the approximate amount, any medications you may have been taking during this period.

Donor Screening

Please complete the consent form and health and lifestyle questionnaire using the link below. We do not normally need to access your medical records. 

Donation depends on the answers to these questions and the results of your blood tests, so please answer accurately. Answering yes does not mean you cannot be a donor but we may need clarification. If you are donating milk you have already expressed, you should answer the screening questions for the period when you expressed the milk.  

Because we can’t use antenatal blood results, we will provide you with a kit for a new blood sample to get taken at your GP practice and posted back to us. We test for: HIV, Hepatitis B and C, HTLV 1 and 2 and Syphilis. We can provide more information on these tests if required. 

If your blood gives a confirmed positive result for any of these infections you will be offered advice on any issues which may affect your own health. A positive test means you can’t donate. 

How long can I donate for?

It’s best to establish your own milk supply, usually around 6 weeks postnatally, before expressing regularly for donation. You don’t need to express more than once a day and you can donate until your baby is around two.  

Donations of already expressed milk are also accepted if the milk has been stored and frozen appropriately, is less than 90 days old and is a reasonable amount (3 litres or more).  

Data Protection

The Milk Bank keeps a record of donor information on a secure computerised database. This database is used to communicate with donors and to record their donation details, including all blood sample test results. It is also used for administration of the bank.  

All information is treated with the strictest confidence.  Families whose babies receive donor milk will not be able to access the donors’ information at any point. This information may also be used for research in order to improve our knowledge about the milk donor population, for clinical audit and to assess and improve the quality of our service. From time to time we may contact you for feedback on the service we provide.  

On occasion we may use some of the information you give us for other reasons and sometimes the law requires us to pass on information if there is a genuine need (for instance in matters of Public Health). Whenever we can we will remove details which will identify you. All information and data that is processed by the Milk Bank is in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act (1998). Everyone has a legal duty to keep all information confidential, and everyone who receives information from us is also legally obliged to keep it confidential. You have a right of access to your donor records. If you want to access your records, contact our Donor Coordinator. 

Collecting Milk for Donation
  • Milk should be expressed by hand or by breast pump. ‘Drip milk’ (milk that leaks from one breast while you are feeding your baby from the other breast) is not ideal as it tends to have less fat, protein and calories. 
  • Equipment for expressing does not need to be sterilised but good personnel hygiene, hand washing, clean preparation areas, fridges and freezers are essential. Expressing equipment should be washed in hot soapy water making sure it is clear of all milk debris, rinsed in cool water, thoroughly dried and stored in a container lined with paper towel and covered with a lid between uses. Please use paper towel for drying hands and equipment. 
  • The milk bank will provide sterilised collection bottles and labels for your milk. When collecting milk be careful not to touch the inside of the bottle or lid. Leave a 2cm gap at the top of the bottle as the milk will expand when frozen. 
  • Where practical you should freeze your milk as soon as possible after expressing it. If this is not possible, you can keep it in the fridge but it should be frozen within 24 hours of expressing it at the latest. It does not matter if there is only a small amount of milk in a bottle at the end of each day these can then be topped up with chilled freshly pumped milk. 
  • All milk stored at home should remain frozen. We will also ask you to record the temperature of your freezer every day (preferably in the morning). We will provide you with a thermometer for this if your freezer does not have one. We will also give you a plastic bag to store the bottles in your freezer. We ask this is kept separate from food in your freezer. 

You should contact the milk bank staff to discuss donation if you: 

  • develop a temperature or have been exposed to a virus that causes a rash such as chicken pox or German measles (rubella) 
  • start taking medication 
  • develop breast lesions or infections such as mastitis 
  • travel outside the UK 
Donor Breast Milk Collection

To arrange milk collection and extra bottles and labels please use the collection form on the website   

Please remember milk must be processed within 90 days of the oldest milk so give us plenty of time to arrange collection. 

Digital Screening Form for Human Milk Donation

Step 1 of 19

To arrange a collection of milk, please complete the form below. It would be really helpful if you could let us know your availability for the following week.

Our volunteers all carry personalised identification cards. The service has a doorstop policy and volunteers will not enter your home. The only exception to this would be if you have an accessibility requirement and were unable to bring the milk to the door yourself. On these occasions our volunteers will carry out a personal risk assessment before entering your home, for example finding out if the household has a pet before offering assistance.

We will be in touch shortly to let you know when we will be out.

If you need a freezer sheet you can download it by clicking the following link.

Freezer Sheet (PDF)

Please use the contact form below to get in touch.

We will do our best to answer any questions as quickly as possible.

Breast milk from a baby’s own mother is always the best nutrition, but this may not always be available. Donor human milk can help support feeding in the first few days of life while the mother increases her own milk supply. Lactation support is really important during this time to make sure the mothers own milk supply is established. You can get more information from RHC Neonatal Infant Feeding.

Scotland has one large Milk Bank based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. It provides safe, screened donor human milk to all Neonatal Units across Scotland. It also provides some donor human milk to families at home in exceptional circumstances.

In 2021 the Milk Bank processed over 2443 litres of breast milk. Over 1140 babies throughout Scotland received donor human milk. Half of the babies who received donor human milk were less than 2kg when born and over 70% were premature.

We aim to make the screening process as easy as possible for you. Just read through the sections below and follow the links.

Memory Milk Gift – donation after loss

We believe that every bereaved family across Scotland should have the choice to donate breast milk in memory of their baby and commemorated on our Memory Milk Tree in the milk bank at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Please click the button to take you straight to the Memory Milk Gift pages.

Who are we?

The milk bank is hosted by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and covers the whole of Scotland. We are a small service with just 5 members of staff.

We coordinate a group of volunteers from Glasgow Childrens Hospital Charity who transport donor human milk from donors homes, to the milk bank and out to Neonatal Units across Scotland.

What is a milk bank?

A milk bank provides screened pasteurised human milk to babies who don’t have enough or can’t receive their own mothers milk. These babies are often born prematurely or unwell.

Premature babies are born with immature intestines and immune systems. They are at more risk of infection and Necrotising Enterocolitis, a very serious and potentially fatal gut infection. Donor human milk is easier for premature and sick babies to digest and offers some protection against infection.

Donors are screened and the milk heat treated. We are always happy to answer questions about the process.

If you would like to find out more about donation then please fill in the Contact Form.

You can also go directly to the Screening Form.

How to become a Donor

Becoming a donor is an amazing step and could help many babies across Scotland. Your own baby is the priority, so we only take milk that is truly surplus to your baby’s needs. The age limit for donation is around two. We can also take stored milk that is less than 90 days old. 

Who can donate milk?

Although you are donating breast milk, it’s similar to becoming a blood donor and there are only a few things that would stop you donating. There is a screening process which includes questions about your medical history, lifestyle and diet.

You can donate milk if:

  • you are breast feeding or expressing for your own baby
  • you are and remain in good health
  • you are able to commit to a period of donating
  • you have milk stored appropriately and in acceptable containers

You cannot donate milk if:

  • you smoke, vape or are using nicotine replacement therapy
  • you take certain medications including antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, certain pain killers and high blood pressure medication.
  • Please contact the milk bank to discuss medications and herbal remedies you take regularly

You can donate if you have had a piercing, tattoo or blood transfusion but we can’t complete the blood tests until 4 months after this.

If you would like be screened for donation click the Screening Form button.

If you would like more information about donation or to get a paper copy of the screening form, please use the Contact Form and we will get back to as soon as we can.

To arrange milk collection click the Collection Form button.

Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to live near the milk bank?

No, we can collect donor milk from all over mainland Scotland.

Can I donate milk I have already stored in my freezer?

Yes but the milk must be pasteurised within 90 days so it’s important to let the milk bank know as soon as possible so that it can be transported within that time. If you are donating milk already in your freezer, remember to answer the health and lifestyle questions for that time.

Can you use the blood tests I had done antenatally?

No, unfortunately we can’t. We do some extra screening tests which are not covered by your antenatal blood tests.

What happens to the milk?

The milk is tested for unwanted bacteria. All breast milk has bacteria in it, and in normal circumstances these are acceptable and helpful. Because our milk is used to feed premature and sick babies we need to make sure no unwanted bacteria are present.

Once all the screening tests are concluded, the milk is re-labelled and distributed throughout Scotland.