Who Are We?

The San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank (SDMMB) at UC San Diego Health was founded with a generous gift from a local couple who is passionate about breastfeeding education and support.

The SDMMB has the unique concept of partnering with others to broaden outreach for donation and collaboration with an established milk bank – Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin to assure success.

San Diego Blood Bank will provide outreach in the community via local donation centers and bloodmobiles – mothers will be able to look up the location in their area of an upcoming blood drive and donate milk close to home.

San Diego Blood Bank also has expertise in screening donors, cold storage and shipping that make this an excellent partner for our milk bank.


Why Do We Need Breastmilk?

Donor breastmilk is used primarily for feeding sick, premature, or young infants when their mother does not have sufficient milk supply for their nutritional needs.

Sometimes this is just for the first few days as mother builds her supply, but some mothers are too sick or have a health condition that does not permit them to breastmilk feed their newborn.

The benefits of using donor milk instead of infant formula are especially impressive for the very preterm babies under 3 pounds at birth.

These infants, when fed only mothers’ milk or donor milk, have greatly reduced rates of infection, serious intestinal complications, better neurodevelopmental outcomes and even less trips back to the hospital after they go home from the NICU.

Who Donates Breastmilk?

Donor mothers are healthy breastfeeding or pumping mothers who have more milk than they can use to feed their own child.

Many of these women are working mothers or NICU mothers who make abundant milk and have large caches of frozen milk that they do not need.

They give the gift of milk to help other women’s children- so generous!

San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank Founders

Dr. Lisa Stellwagen and Dr. Jae Kim SDMMB Co-Founders.

Dr. Lisa Stellwagen

Dr. Stellwagen is a general pediatrician, neonatal hospitalist and the Medical Director of Newborn Medicine at UC San Diego Health. She attended Tufts University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency and chief residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. She has been a pediatrician since 1985, both in the community and hospital settings. Her areas of interest are infant nutrition, jaundice, the care of the late preterm infant, management of prenatal ultrasound findings after birth, torticollis and plagiocephaly, and teaching families, medical students, pediatric residents and neonatal fellows all about newborn care.

She led the team that resulted in UCSD’s Hillcrest location Baby Friendly Certification in 2006 and recertification in 2016, as well as UCSD’s Jacobs Medical Center Certification in 2018; she continues to work on quality improvement in the breastfeeding program. Dr. Stellwagen and colleagues started the UC San Diego SPIN Program (Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition) in 2008 which brings together the lactation service, dietary service, OT/PT, NICU nurses and physicians in a multidisciplinary team to improve neonatal nutrition and human milk feeding in the NICU setting (spinprogram.ucsd.edu). Her research interests include human milk quality and storage, maternal milk production, and promoting human milk feeding – in term and preterm infants – to improve infant outcomes.

Dr. Jae Kim 

Dr. Jae Kim is an attending neonatologist and gastroenterologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and a clinical professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego in both the Neonatology and Pediatric Gastroenterology Departments.

Dr. Kim earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Toronto. He continued his medical education with an internship at Toronto Western Hospital before completing a pediatric residency and a pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children. He went on to earn his Ph.D. and to complete a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the same institution.

His special interests include neonatal nutrition, neonatal bowel injury, bedside ultrasound and resuscitation. His current research centers on optimizing human milk feeding for the premature infant, pioneering the use of bedside ultrasound in the NICU and innovation in resuscitation in resource-limited settings.

Dr. Kim serves as the nutrition director for Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition, an innovative, nationally recognized multidisciplinary program to advance infant nutrition at UC San Diego. He co-authored the book Best Medicine: Human Milk in the NICU.

Who Are Our Partners?

San Diego Blood Bank, which has experience screening donors, accepting donations, cold storage, and shipping frozen biologic products—soon to include mothers’ milk.

Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, the largest milk bank in the US, is known for excellence in milk research and donor milk banking. The bank will process milk from San Diego sent by SDMMB during our depot phase, until we complete our build of a milk processing facility at the San Diego Blood Bank Gateway Center.

Mommy’s Milk, The Human Milk Biorepository at UC San Diego, a program that makes donated milk that cannot be used to feed babies available for research about human milk.

Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk Infant Center of Research Excellence at UC San Diego Health, which researches how genetic and environmental factors impact milk production and composition, how breast milk promotes infant development, how breastfeeding optimizes maternal and infant health and more.

SDMMB aims to be a non-profit milk bank under the auspices of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), and in partnership with The Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin.