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Ireland's breast milk bank has issued a call for donations

The milk bank, based in Fermanagh, is running low.

Image: Shutterstock/Here Asia

AN ALL-IRELAND breast milk bank is running low, prompting a call for donations. 

The milk bank, which is based in Fermanagh but provides breast milk to ill and pre-mature babies across Ireland, has called for donations from new mothers, with stocks of breast milk currently running low.

Run by the Western Health Trust in Northern Ireland, the bank has only 20 active donors – to meet demand from neonatal units 50-100 donors are needed. 

The milk bank – the only one in Ireland – opened in 2000. It was forced to close for several months in 2018 after bacteria was found in its water supply. 

“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,” said the coordinator of the Western Trust Milk Bank, Elizabeth Bailie. 

“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,” she added. 

Since December 2018, the milk bank has processed around 570 litres of donor milk, with hundreds of litres of milk provided to 27 neonatal units across Ireland. 

“Many of the babies who have received donated breast milk required gut surgery or heart
surgery,” Bailie said. She said she was “grateful” to all the donors. 

“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,” Bailie added. 

All donors are required to be registered by the time the baby reaches three months old – once registered the milk bank will accept donations up until six months. 

All milk must be provided in sterile bottles. 

Other requirements state that donors must be non-smokers and must not have had a blood transfusion or have tattoos. 

Potential donors are being asked to contact the Milk Bank at TMB.SWAH@westerntrust.hscni.net. 

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