Baby milk bank

November 28, 2017 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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In April of 2018, the first national Breast Milk Bank is set to open in Israel.

The service will be established by Magen David Adom in collaboration with the Association for Mother’s Milk Donation. The activity will allow breastfeeding women to donate excess breast milk to babies whose mothers are not in reach. The Breast Milk Bank will be established in the MDA Jerusalem station. The operation of the facility will be funded mostly by MDA and partially by the Ministry of Health.

Breast milk offers many benefits. Among those benefits are antibodies that defend babies against diseases and enable the formation of an immune system, a process of utmost importance among premature and sick babies. Baby food formulas and substitutes do not offer the same advantages. Breast milk, similarly to blood units, is a human tissue containing stem cells and white blood cells – an unsubstitutable composition. Research conducted in the field, by Dr. Sharon Bransburg Zabary, has affirmed this fact. Bransburg Zabary is a member of the establishing committee of the “Association of Mother’s Milk Donation”, and was one of the activists who drove this initiative, to which MDA and relevant government offices enlisted.

According to medical statistic, only 30% of women nurse without using any substitutes or dormular, and could act as potential donors to the Breast Milk Bank. The average donation volume ranges from 100-200 cc per day, during a time period ranging from 3-9 months post-partum. The expectancy for breast milk demand is valued at hundreds of liters a month.

Who Can Be a Donor? Healthy breastfeeding mothers with excess breast milk who fulfill the Ministry of Health’s demands, live a healthy lifestyle and can provide a donation without hindering their ability to nurse their own babies. There are two types of milk:

  1. Breast milk for premature babies from a mother who gave birth between the 34th week and through six weeks post-partum.
  2. Breast milk from a mother who gave birth on her planned due date.

The donation process: Ensures the quality of milk. Women who breastfeed and interested in making a donation will approach the Breast Milk Bank and will be invited to a medical interview, as well as undergo a set of tests to ensure safety and quality of the milk. Women that are healthy and eligible, will pump excess milk using a personal pump authorised according to global standards. They will be able to do so either at home or at a hospital. The milk will be kept in a specialized bag and in a cold temperature, until it is collected by MDA. The donor will state the volume of each donation as appears on the pump, her name, date, and whether or not unusual incidents occurred during pumping. MDA will then coordinate a convenient time to collect the donation.

Dr. Asher Moser, Deputy Director of MDA Blood Services and Expert in Pediatric Hemato-Oncology said: “As part of the process, the units will be stored in the Breast Milk Bank, and will undergo additional tests for monitoring and elimination of infectious diseases, nutritional analysis, processing, rapid freezing, etc. Units will be stored in a temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius and will be transferred to babies in need. According to Ministry of Health policy, the milk will be distributed according to medical prioritization – firstly, to premature babies or other hospitalized babies. If there are any leftovers, they will be distributed to any babies in need.”

VP Director of MDA Blood Services, Professor Eilat Shinar stated:: “Establishing the National Breast Milk Bank will significantly enhance the resources required to treat premature babies and other newborns. This blessed collaboration between MDA, the Association for Mother’s Milk Donation, and the Ministry of Health enables the unification of the experience knowledge of each one of the bodies leading up to the establishment of this important project, of a single goal: increasing the chances of survival and health of premature babies and newborns in Israel.”

The new Breast Milk Bank at MDA will be managed by Dr. Sharon Bransburg Zabary, a member of the establishing committee of the “Association for Mother’s Milk Donation”, established in 2015. She stated: “It is a natural connection to establish a project like this with the organization that operates the blood services of the state and is skilled at the required procedures.” Dr. Bransburg Zabari emphasized that in cases of premature and sick babies, who suffer from a premature immune system, the requirement for breast milk is a matter of life or death. “The immune system of a premature baby isn’t developed and vulnerable. Only breast milk provides all vital component – as opposed to substitute formulas that are costly and could hurt the intestine and cause severe infections in premature babies.” It should also be noted that one of the risks of the current situation, is that mothers of premature babies go through extreme lengths to get their hands on breast milk, including doing so privately and without necessary medical inspection.”

MDA Director General, Eli Bin added: “To this day, the need for a national breast milk bank has been widely talked about in Israel and I am happy that the Ministry of Health approached MDA to establish the first of a kind bank that would provide breast milk in high quality and safety. We operate in order to ensure the safety and needs of all civilians of Israel with an emphasis on babies requiring breast milk to stay alive. I commend this new initiative and would like to thank everyone involved. I am proud that MDA, an organization that is based on donations and isn’t funded by the government – is able to establish projects to the benefit and welfare of all residents of Israel.”

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