September is Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month and a human milk bank service in Northern Ireland is making a plea for essential breast milk donations to help sick and premature babies.
The Western Trust’s Human Milk Bank service based at the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland is appealing for more donor mums to come forward and help to provide essential donor breast milk for babies in neonatal units in hospitals throughout Ireland.
Elizabeth Bailie, Human Milk Bank Co-ordinator said: “In 2021 the Human Milk Bank provided donor milk for 844 premature babies, of which 234 were either a twin or a triplet. So you can see it is essential that we continue to recruit donors at this time. I would appeal to expectant mums to consider becoming a donor and for our donor mums to spread the word about the Human Milk Bank as this is the best way to help us recruit new mums!”
She goes on to thank all existing milk bank donors for their support: “We are indebted to our donor mums who have continued to provide essential donor breast milk for babies in neonatal units in hospitals throughout Ireland. The Human Milk Bank staff are working very hard to ensure this vital service remains available to all our vulnerable premature babies.”
Why is breast milk so important for sick and premature babies?
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.”
Baby Eliza’s story
Baby Eliza was born prematurely at 24 weeks and received donor milk for a few days until her Mummy’s supply came in. Eliza is now thriving at home and her Mummy went on to donate 20 Litres to the Human Milk Bank.
Could you be a breast milk donor?
If you would like to find out more about the Human Milk Bank and becoming a donor please contact the Human Milk Bank on Tel: (028) 68628333 or email email@example.com
A video by the Western Trust shows the Human Milk Bank processes and how donated breast milk is distributed to help premature babies all over Ireland.