Human Milk Bank needs more donors


Human Milk Bank needs more donorsThe Western Trust Human Milk Bank located at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen is asking more new mums to donate breast milk as stocks are getting low, particularly over the summer months. A video showing a short tour of the facility, how the whole process works in the Human Milk Bank and how donated breast milk is distributed to help babies all over Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has recently been produced and will be available online in the near future.

Elizabeth (Liz) Bailie, who has recently taken up the post as coordinator of the Western Trust Milk Bank, said: “We are encouraging new mothers to help with the increase in demand for breast milk and to ensure we have an adequate supply for neonatal units across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  With our dedicated donors’, our peer support mothers and the help of new donors we will be able to meet the increase demand for breast milk.
“We are very proud that the South West Acute Hospital has been successful in achieving the prestigious UNICEF UK Baby Friendly accreditation and our dedicated midwives and health visitors continue to strive to support new mums to breast feed. We are currently working towards the Gold Standard Award which recognizes our commitment to breastfeeding. We are very grateful to our mums who help us to spread the ‘Milk Bank’ word around and we find that this is the best way of keeping it prominent in new mum’s minds.”
“Since reopening in December 2018 the Human Milk Bank has processed approximately 570 litres of donor expressed milk and we have provided approximately 510 litres of breast milk to 27 neonatal units in hospitals across Ireland helping 278 babies, including 30 sets of twins and six sets of triplets!  Many of the babies who have received donated breast milk required gut surgery or heart surgery.”
Elizabeth expressed her gratitude to the voluntary charity, Blood Bikers: “The distribution of the milk would not be possible without transport help from Blood Bikers charities who help collect Human Milk from donors in their local area and also assist with the distribution of milk to neonatal units in Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland. We are incredibly grateful for their ongoing support to the Human Milk Bank.”

Elizabeth explains the importance of human milk for premature babies saying: “Human milk contains substances that cannot be synthesised, which help the babies fight viruses and bacteria. It has unique fats that help the immature brain, eye and nervous system develop better for improved intellect and sight, but probably most important for the premature baby it helps to protect the immature gut from Necrotizing Entero Colitis (NEC), a life threatening condition where the gut rupture. Breast milk also helps protect babies from pneumonia and septicaemia.”
Elizabeth adds: “We are very grateful to all the mums who donate milk to the unit and there is always the need to recruit new donors. Donors are required to be registered by the time baby reaches three months old and once registered the Milk Bank will accept milk donations up until the sixth month. All milk donations received must be in sterile milk bottles when expressed and donated into the service within three months of expression.  Donors must be non-smokers, not had a blood transfusion, are not on drugs that pass into breastmilk and no had a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture (unless you can provide a letter from your Acupuncturist regarding single use sterile needles), or have visited Malarial Countries in the last year are in good health.”
If you would like to find out more about the Milk Bank and becoming a donor please contact the Milk Bank on Tel: (028) 6862 8333 or email New mums are also encouraged to attend their local Breastfeeding Support Group which are supported by Sure start, Midwifery, Health Visitors and our Infant Feeding Specialists within the Western Trust area.