British Columbia

Mothers in Metro Vancouver group angry at woman they say sold their donated breast milk

Dozens of women are upset breast milk they donated may have been sold for profit without their knowledge by a mother who said she needed it for her own children.

'To learn she is making money off of me and other good people, it's pretty sad,' says donor

Women in a Vancouver Facebook group donate their own breast milk to help other mothers. (Shutterstock)

Dozens of women who donated breast milk are upset some of it was sold for profit without their knowledge by a mother who said she needed it for her own children.

Posting to a Facebook page that connects women who need milk with those willing to donate, a mother said she paid for breast milk from a woman who had received it for free.

Jodi Neidert has donated 650 ounces of her breast milk to the woman accused of profiting.

"Betrayal ... I wanted to do something good and help someone who wasn't able to do [what] I could do, to learn she is making money off of me and other good people, it's pretty sad," said Neidert. 

According to Health Canada, many mothers turn to private individuals or the internet to find milk since milk banks only have limited quantities reserved for high-risk infants in intensive care. There are only four milk banks in the country, including one at B.C. Women's Hospital.

Selling breast milk not illegal

Health Canada does warn of potential health risks associated with obtaining milk from outside sources. 

CBC News reached out to the woman who allegedly sold the milk but hasn't heard back. CBC is choosing to not identify her because it is not an offence to sell breast milk, according to Coquitlam RCMP.

"Once something is given or donated, you generally lose the right to tell someone what to do with it," said Cpl. Michael McLaughlin with Coquitlam RCMP. 

Once Neidert found out about the allegations, she confronted the woman by messaging her on Facebook.

Jodi Neidert donates any extra breast milk she produces to help other mothers, but was shocked to learn that a mother she donated to sold her milk. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"She said yes, she was the one selling it and she said she was sorry."

Neidert estimates the woman made $650 off her donated breast milk. 

A screen grab from Jodi Neidert's conversation with the woman in question. (Submitted)

'I wanted to help out another mom'

There are dozens of posts about the woman on the Facebook page called Human Milk 4 Human Babies — British Columbia.

The administrator says the page is like a bulletin board where people with extra milk post offers, and people with a need post requests. 

"Selling and buying milk is prohibited here because it's dangerous. Altruistic donation on the basis of informed choice and full disclosure is what we do," reads a message on the page. 

Some members of the Facebook group said the woman pestered them constantly asking for milk and even told one mother to take medication to increase her supply. 

Tanya Bemister donated 100 ounces of milk to the woman in October.

"As a mom, I wanted to help out another mom. I would never charge a mom," said Bemister. 

Tanya Bemister says she feels sick to her stomach knowing that someone would profit off breast milk that mothers like her donate. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

She also messaged the woman to ask if she sold her breast milk, but the woman said she did not. Bemister says she's not sure if that's true or not.

"Makes me sick to my stomach that someone would profit off someone's good deed," she said.

"I feel disgusting," said Bemister. "Whether it's my milk or someone else, it was not to be sold, it was to be given to an infant in need."

Both Bemister and Neidert said they will not let this one situation stop them from donating to mothers who are in need.

About the Author

Tina Lovgreen

Video Journalist

Tina is a Video Journalist with CBC Vancouver. Send her an email at tina.lovgreen@cbc.ca

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