The Human Milk Foundation is proud that the Hearts Milk Bank helps families facing breastfeeding challenges by providing skilled support and access to screened donor milk donated by wonderful mums. Since September 2017, the HMB has supported over 100 families outside of our hospital provision who have been referred by healthcare professionals or self referred. As our charity has grown, we wanted to ensure that this novel service was underpinned by a process that ensured safety and fairness of access to this precious resource.
In May 2019, we established a panel of volunteer experts who met at the Human Milk Foundation’s headquarters to achieve a consensus on the prioritisation of access to donor milk. The panel is formed of neonatologists, paediatricians, parents (donors and recipients), lactation specialists, milk bank team members and psychiatrist/psychologists. Initially, the panel met every 6 months, and now meets yearly to review the operation of the charity over the year and adjust guidelines going forward.
After discussion, donor milk was prioritised according to four parameters: infant vulnerability (hence NICU milk is always prioritised), maternal breastfeeding and psychological health, and milk bank supply/logistics. Sometimes, these overlap, but they give the team a broad context to manage a finite resource, and the expectations of what is possible.
For families where breastfeeding is impossible, we provide 4 weeks of donor milk to allow babies to receive human milk only during the neonatal period, followed by a transitional period where formula is introduced slowly over 2-3 weeks.
It is our charity’s goal that in the future we will be able to ensure that every baby and mother who could benefit from this service will be able to. If you would like to support us in this goal, please contact us.
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