After several years of OU facilitating donations for the North Texas bank, Mannel said the bank director suggested OU become an official depot for the Texas bank.
“I knew even at that point that at some point Oklahoma would need a milk bank, but that’s going to take a while,” Mannel said.
OU became a depot in 2007 and quickly became one of the bank’s largest depots, with Oklahoma mothers sending 20,000 ounces of milk to Texas every year. Mannel said she continued working to raise awareness with physicians about the health benefits of using donor milk over formula for premature and sick infants. By 2011, physicians began asking what they needed to do to get donor milk prescriptions sent to Oklahoma.
Shortly after, OU began ordering donor milk from north Texas to routinely provide for preterm babies. Because OU has the largest neonatal intensive care unit in the state, Mannel said the orders marked a large step forward in raising awareness about the need for an Oklahoma bank.
During that same time, Mannel said a board was formed for an Oklahoma bank and the hard work began to raise money and apply for nonprofit status.
While many banks take five years or more to get off the ground once development begins, Mannel said the Oklahoma bank was able to get organized in just two.