Human Milk Bank Needs More Donors


Human Milk Bank Needs More Donors


The Western Trust Human Milk Bank is urgently asking more new mums to donate breast milk as stocks are getting low at one of the busiest times of the year for the unit. 


Ann McCrea, coordinator of the Western Trust Milk Bank in Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, said: “We are now seeing our stock decreasing daily and we really need new mothers to help with the increase in demand for breast milk. 


“Our milk supply is following a yearly trend of decreasing during the autumn/winter months and this is worrying for us as winter time is the busiest time of the year for neonatal units when more babies are born prematurely.


“Although there is an increase in the number of donors, we are seeing that many mums can only donate for a short period of time as in an increasingly difficult financial climate they are returning to work sooner.


“With our dedicated donors’ support and the help of new donors we will be able to meet the demand. However, we rely on our mums to spread the ‘Milk Bank’ word around and we find that this is the only way of keeping it prominent in new mum’s minds.”Human Milk Bank


In operation since August 2000, the Western Trust Milk Bank is the only community based milk bank in the United Kingdom. It provides breast milk to neonatal units in hospitals across Ireland and from January to September 2011 the Milk Bank has distributed 618 litres of milk to 20 units to help mothers and premature babies all around Ireland. The Milk Bank has exceeded last year’s donor total with a total of 159 donors already this year. The donors have so far helped an incredible 429 babies, of which there were 35 sets of twins and six sets of triplets.


Human milk contains substances that cannot be synthesized, 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. 


The distribution of the milk would not be possible without transport help from Translink, Western Trust Transport, and An Post, especially the staff in Pettigoe Post Office in County Donegal.


If you would like find out more about the Milk Bank and becoming a donor please contact Ann McCrea on 028 6862 8333 or email New mums are also encouraged to attend their local Breastfeeding Support Group which is supported by SureStart community midwives and held on a weekly basis throughout the Western Trust area.


Baby Joshua’s Story

Baby Joshua (not real name) was born with a very rare gut disorder, which didn’t allow him to absorb his feeds and his weight and well-being was deteriorating rapidly. From past experiences the paediatric dietician decided to try him on donor milk and to date he is doing remarkably well and gaining weight. 


Donor Rebecca’s Story

Rebecca (not real name) is an experienced mum who was pregnant with baby number six.  She was 36 weeks pregnant when she felt something was drastically wrong. She dialled the emergency services and was taken to the nearest hospital. Her baby Harry was born in very poor condition and was immediately transferred to the regional centre for neo-natal intensive care, whilst mum remained in her local hospital requiring several units of blood, before she was fit to travel and see her new baby. With mum being so poorly and Harry at risk of developing NEC he was given donor breast milk until his mother was fit and able to provide her own. Harry improved very quickly and was able to return to the local neo-natal unit for mum and Harry to be reunited. Harry is now doing well and being closely monitored and mum made a full recovery and is able to feed Harry herself now and so grateful to milk donors for helping when she couldn’t.