Milk bank calls for funds to help premature babies amid coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 March 2020

Award winners and Hearts milk bank founders, Gillian and Natalie call for help for babies amid Coronavirus pandemic.

Award winners and Hearts milk bank founders, Gillian and Natalie call for help for babies amid Coronavirus pandemic.

Rothamsted Research

A Harpenden-based breast milk bank is calling for help to protect babies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hearts Milk Bank needs your help amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Supplied by The Hearts Milk BankHearts Milk Bank needs your help amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Supplied by The Hearts Milk Bank

The Human Milk Foundation was set up in 2017 by a group of parents, scientists, milk bank experts and doctors. It was born out of frustration at a lack of support for donor milk provision and countless stories of parents who wanted to access donor milk for their babies.

Now they urgently need to raise awareness so they can protect their most vulnerable – premature babies, according to Hearts Milk Bank.

Hearts Milk Bank, located at Rothamsted Research in West Common, is the UK’s first independent, non-profit service providing surplus breast milk to feed babies in need.

During the COVID-19 crisis they are having to scale up milk bank operations as hospital neonatal intensive care units are requiring more donor milk.

The organisation needs to raise vital funds to be able to recruit more milk donors, increase the lab team hours to pasteurise more donor milk, and order more equipment to meet this new capacity.

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As suppliers to the NHS they are classed as keyworkers and say they “will be working harder than ever to support hospitals.”

Founder of Hearts Milk Bank Dr Natalie Shenker of Tavistock Avenue said: “The whole team is working really hard to meet the increased demand from hospitals, and to support other milk banks across the country.

“Vulnerable babies need access to donor milk, both for their own health and for their mothers to be supported as much as possible. Costs are increasing rapidly as the number of milk donors we are recruiting increases, and we need to bring in more stocks of supplies.

“The community has really rallied round to support us already, and we hope that this fundraising appeal will mean we can hire more staff to keep the supply to all hospital NICUs going throughout the months to come.”

Dr Natalie Shenker, 41, from St Albans set up the bank with her friend Gillian Weaver, who lives in Dover.

Last year they won a Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are make changes in their community and inspire others

To find out more visit https://humanmilkfoundation.org/covid.

To donate go to http://humanmilkfoundation.org/COVID/ or text HELPBABY to 70470 to donate £10.


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