Human Milk Bank makes an urgent appeal for donors

07/01/2022

Our Human Milk Bank located at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen is making an urgent appeal for new mums to donate breast milk as stocks are getting low, particularly after the busy Christmas and New Year period.

Elizabeth (Liz) Bailie, 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. Last year we achieved the UNICEF UK 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 01 January 2021 to 31 December 2021 the Human Milk Bank has processed approximately 2142 litres of donor expressed milk and we have provided approximately 1427 litres of breast milk to 27 neonatal units in hospitals across Ireland helping 558 babies, including 92 sets of twins,11 sets of triplets and one set of quads! Many of the babies who have received donated breast milk required gut surgery or heart surgery.”

The Milk Bank Team expressed their gratitude to the Voluntary Charity Blood Bikers:

“The distribution of the milk would not be possible without transport help from Blood Bikers charities who assist with the transportation of milk to neonatal units throughout Ireland and 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 which help the babies fight viruses and bacteria. It fats that helps develop the immature brain, eye and nervous system. Most important for the premature baby it helps to protect the immature gut from Necrotizing Entero Colitis (NEC), a life threatening condition. 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 not 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 and 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 TMB.SWAH@westerntrust.hscni.net

New mums are also encouraged to gain support from their midwife, family health visitor, infant feeding lead specialist to support them through their infant feeding journey. It is hoped that we will be recommencing Breastfeeding Support Groups across the Western Trust area COVID-19 guidelines permitting.