Breast milk can spread AIDS to babies, you can help by sending your AIDS-free breast milk to Africa.

Doctors have known since 1991 that AIDS can be spread from mother to child via infected breast milk consumption. Now you can do something to help. The International Breast Milk Project, ships frozen breast milk from all over the world to babies in need. Time magazine article about the Madison Cassady Program which allows mothers whose childrenhave passed away to share their remaining breast milk with children in need in Africa, read below to see how to donate:

When a mother loses her baby in the critical care unit, she often has breast milk in her freezer. The gift of giving this donation of life through our Madison Cassady Program can be emotionally healing and fulfilling to both the grieving mother and life saving to the receiving baby. The donation may serve as a special way for a mom to honor the memory of her baby.

Our team is standing by to help answer questions along the way. Contact us now by calling 866-930-8220 and ask for Robin, email, or view our entire Madison team’s contact information here.

Two Ways to Donate Milk

There are two ways breast milk can be donated through this program: 1) Mother qualifies as a donor, allowing the milk to process for use by other babies, and, 2) Mother does not go through qualification process. Regardless of what option the Madison Mom chooses, all supplies and shipping costs are paid for by the program. For the convenience and comfort of the mother, the phlebotomist will go to her home. We ship FedEx Ground for outgoing shipments and will supply a pre-paid FedEx Standard Overnight return label to bring the milk into the Bank. The mother can be assured that the breast milk donation she is making will make a difference whichever method she feels comfortable using.

  1. Milk becomes qualified for use as a nutritional product: Moms who have suffered the loss of their infant may have milk that they would like to donate to babies orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa. We take special care to accommodate each Madison mom based on her individual needs and situation. Madison Moms wanting to donate to our US Milk to Africa program will have to follow the same application process and guidelines as other donors. This process can take 6 weeks from the date of application. We have special coordinators standing by to assist Madison Moms through this process. For a better understanding of the US Milk for Africa donation process, please view our milk donation flow chart and read our FAQs.
    • Qualification process takes approximately 6 weeks
    • The donor will need to fill out an on-line Interview at, click on donate now, International Breast Milk Bank (Africa) milk bank site and complete interview questions. If the donor does not have access to a computer, she should contact the IBMP Bank at 866/930-8220, to request a hard copy manual interview form. Interviews should be completed by the donor only.
    • Interview is reviewed. If there is nothing that would cause a disqualification, i.e. certain medications, a short Request for Patient Medical Information form will be sent to the mother for her doctor is to complete.
    • Once this form is received back at IBMP Bank, and all is well, a donor test kit is sent via FedEx Ground to the mother and arrangements for a phlebotomist to perform a blood test are made. The kit also contains a donor DNA collector swab which the mother will perform.
    • Approximately 3 weeks later, when both the blood work results and the donor ID results are received, we will be able to accept the milk to be prepared for use by babies in Africa and critically ill infants in the US.
  2. If a mother chooses not to go through the entire qualification process, we may be able to accept the milk for research purposes. This option is for moms who may not want to go through the traditional donation process due to stress or other situations. This milk will be used for medical research. All of the costs associated with this milk donation will be covered by our organization. This program provides an option for Madison Moms who may be on medications that would not otherwise allow them to donate to our US Milk to Africa program. Milk for research slots are reserved for Madison Moms who are grieving and do not want to throw away their milk but do not want to go through the entire donation process.
    • Process takes 1-3 weeks, depending on if Madison Mom has had blood work done in last 4 months.
    • Madison Mom must fill out 10 minute online application for consent and confidentiality.
    • Madison Mom’s physician must fax copies of blood work (less than 4 months old) to International Breast Milk Project Bank, c/o Robin at 866-520-9703 or Madison mom must be willing to allow us to send a technician to her home to get new blood draw.
    • If Madison Mom does not have blood work less than 4 months old from date of application, for the convenience and comfort of the mother, a technician to draw blood will go to her home.

Madison’s Closet

In addition to helping a mom to donate milk, we provide the additional service of helping Madison Moms to donate special items to infants orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa.. A donor mom might want to send a few special items of clothing or blankets to the babies in Africa as a means of healing. Moms also may choose to write a letter, a card and/or send photos. Packages may be shipped to:
International Breast Milk Project
c/o Madison Cassady Program
2600 14th Avenue NW
Rochester, MN 55901

We will send Madison’s Closet items 2-4 times per year and also send along with volunteers visiting Africa. If possible, prior to sending the items, please email us to let us know they are on the way. If you need help with the cost of shipping the items within the US, please let us know and arrangements can be made. You can email

How Nurses, Lactation Consultants, and Other Medical Professionals Can Help

We are currently working on updating our downloadable brochure and flyer for medical professionals, hospitals, and nurses to print for Madison Moms. The Madison Program is designed to take the work off of the nurses and medical staff facilitating milk donations. Our coordinators are happy to provide in-services and conference calls for your staff to answer any FAQs. We are also available to help hospitals set up systematic approaches to aid grieving moms with their donor milk. If you would like more information on how to get your hospital involved or to set up an in-service for your department, please email or call 507-261-3221. Because we ship coolers directly to the Madison Mom’s home, we encourage nurses to help donors store their milk at home when possible. This also helps hospitals from storing donor milk for long periods of time.

We are always looking for feedback from NICU nurses and physicians on how we can better serve Madison Moms.

“The Madison Cassady Program is a part of the larger International Breast Milk Project, which helps feed children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa with surplus breast milk from mothers in the U.S. The Project was started by Cassady’s friend Jill Youse, who discovered she was overproducing breast milk after giving birth to her daughter Estella last July. She had more milk in her first month of nursing than she would ever need.”I used to joke that I had enough breast milk to feed a continent,” says Youse, 29.”  “I had a ton of it and I didn’t know what to do.” She and her husband Jeremy, a resident at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, knew the nutritional value of breast milk and Youse felt an emotional connection to it as well. She didn’t want to dispose of it. So with her freezer filled to capacity, she went online to find uses for the extra milk. Breast millk can be kept frozen for several months, even longer in a subzero freezer.

Youse’s search turned up iThemba Lethu Orphanage in Durban, South Africa, which had established a breast milk bank in 2001. Babies infected with HIV, orphaned and abandoned because their mothers had succumbed to AIDS, are cared at the orphanage. In sub-Saharan Africa, three million children, age five and younger, are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS. Since the virus can transfer through breast milk, and formula is often mixed with unclean water by African mothers, iThemba Lethu relies on donated breast milk to feed the children there and boost their immune systems.

Anna Coutsoudis, who, in 2001 had started a “breast milk bank” for infant AIDS orphans in South Africa, Thanks to Jill Youse’s, Geny Cassady’s and Anna Coutsoudis’ efforts, thousands of babies are being given a chance at survival that they almost certainly would have missed otherwise.

More on Anna Coutsoudis, inspiration for the international breast milk bank, from

“Anna Coutsoudis has watched HIV/AIDS spread across her country at an alarming rate. It its wake, the epidemic has left behind AIDS orphans, many of them infants. Ms. Coutsoudis is an associate professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Natal. She is also the founder of a home for infant AIDS orphans.

She says, “Well, if we don’t do anything about the orphans, we are going to have a huge, huge problem. All these young children are going to be roaming the streets with no one to look after (them). And you know what happens when children don’t have boundaries, when children don’t have parental guidance or any guidance or any authority figures in their lives. They will mostly just run wild. And it’s actually quite a frightening thing. And most people just think of ‘shame, the orphans.’ But they don’t realize that it actually impacts on society as a whole.”

She named her home for infants iThemba Lethu, which she translates as, “I have a destiny.” It’s not an exact translation.

“iThemba Lethu is a Zulu word. The themba part actually means hope. When I first had the words ‘I have a destiny’ and I asked some Zulu friends for a translation, there was no actual word for destiny. There’s only a word for hope and hope is actually too soft, whereas destiny is a much stronger word. But unfortunately, there isn’t a Zulu translation directly for destiny.”

2 Responses

  1. I have a friend who is a nurse who is caring for a tree month old that is only 3 lbs and I would like to pump my breast milk and send it to her. She is working in A hospital in Uganda. Does anyone know of an organization that could help me do this.

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