Why use Donor Milk?
Human Breast Milk has been proven to be the ideal source of optimal nutrition for all infants. For low birth weight infants, it is personalised medication as these infants are at great risk of developing necrotising enterocolitis, a very serious condition of the gut. Donor milk contains many of the immunoglobulins which help protect the baby from this and other infections. Breast milk also helps the gut mature and improves the baby’s ability to absorb and digest nutrients. Often their mothers struggle to provide enough milk in the first few days after delivery and donated human milk is far preferable to using preterm formula.
How is Human Milk managed in Donor Human Milk Banks (HMBs)?
Most HMBs are based in Neonatal Intensive Care units in hospitals and are managed by a multidisciplinary team of medical staff. Some milk banks are based in community settings to feed vulnerable babies in the community. Healthy donor mothers are recruited from within the hospital or community and are screened for lifestyle diseases and have certain blood tests done. Milk is frozen in containers provided by the hospital and is either dropped off by the donor mothers at the bank or assigned depots or collected by volunteers. The donor milk is defrosted, pasteurised, microbiologically tested and then stored frozen until it is needed for vulnerable infants.
In South Africa Milk banks existed informally in many hospitals, but these were also closed as a result of HIV/AIDS as donors were not screened and milk was not pasteurised before it was administered to infants. The discovery that the Holder Method of pasteurisation killed the HIV virus, resulted to milk banks again opening, but with strict screening procedures for donor mothers and the pasteurisation of all donor milk.
In 2000 Prof. Anna Coutsoudis, from the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, started the iThemba Lethu Breast Milk Bank in Durban to feed babies orphaned or abandoned as a result of HIV. UNICEF provided money for the first pasteruiser and the while adoptive families were sought, these babies received donor milk and this made a remarkable difference in the quality of their lives.
Prof. Coutsoudis then assisted with the establishment of milk banking in the Western Cape (Milk Matters) in 2001/2 and then breast milk banking in Gauteng (South African Breast Milk Reserve).
Where are PiAstras being used?
Most of the units (approx. 20) are in government hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Other places in South Africa with PiAstra are: Rahima Moosa Hospital, Gauteng, and Zithulele Hospital in a deep rural area in Eastern Cape.
Three Netcare private hospitals in South Africa and one in Namibia also have PiAstras.
PiAstras have been installed in Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and New Zealand.
The latest kid on the block is the Human Milk Bank at the Mbale Regional Hospital in Uganda. There’s has been a huge success story modelling how all HMBs should be set up especially in low resource settings.
Dr Kathy Burgoine and her team took great care to first ensure that they had a good breastfeeding promotion and support programme in place before starting to consider using donor human milk. They started small using a PiAstra.
How to order PiAstras
A full pasteurization kit including the printer costs under $1,500 and the cost varies according to the income rating of countries requesting the PiAstra. PiAstra is committed to making access to donor milk possible in the poorest of communities and will provide discounts depending on the needs of the institution or organization. Contact us at email@example.com with some information of where and how you plan to use PiAstra and we will provide you with details of the price, and other information.