Thursday 19 May 2011

Milk bank at the pruh, donate your breast milk!

* Please note, this post was originally published on the 11th May but disappeared during a blogger maintenance update. I have republished this post again today - appologies to anyone who may have already read this on their RSS feed etc...

*Please also note, there is a copy of the response I got from Karen Lewis at the bottom of the post - this was not originally published.

Ok so, I've given birth at the PRUH (princess royal university hospital, farnborough nr Bromley),  had a midwife show me how to breastfeed, seen a breastfeeding counsellor at the PRUH and had a stay on children's ward with my then 5week old breastfed baby. I'm currently on my second pregnancy at 33weeks and have been under consultant care at the PRUH where I am planning on giving birth again and already been asked if I will be breastfeeding again and I've also had a stay in hospital with a bleed in this pregnancy.

My point is that during two pregnancies, a number of hospital stays and breastfeeding assistance, I have spent quite a bit of time at the PRUH but in all that time, not once has the milk bank been mentioned to me, nor have I seen any posters or leaflets! - The only reason I know of it's existence was via a tweet on twitter from the NCT trust - apparently there is a milk shortage!? - anyone know why?! Really, would it hurt to stick up a poster or too?

The milk bank at the pruh is nothing new, it was one of the first to open in the UK and there are only 17 of them in the whole country. It's been open on and off for over 40 years.

The milk bank is at the pruh to support premature babies at the PRUH, Woolwhich and Sidcup - The little lovelies need breast milk to survive - particularly in the younger ones - they just can't handle formula milk and because they are born so early, not all their mummies can produce milk yet. So yep - donations of breast milk is important! Those that can spare some, should really if they can.

All donated milk is pasteurised and to become a milk donor you will have a blood test to check you don't have illnesses or anything that can be passed through milk, and you will be asked a few lifestyle questions such as if you smoke. Your baby needs to be under 6months too.

The hospital will provide you with sterile bottles to store your milk in after you have expressed it and will ask you to freeze it. The pruh will also collect your frozen milk from you regularly.

If you are interested in donating your milk, you can read more here or contact:
Contact name: Karen Lewis & Jean Rae
Phone: 01689 864924 (most likely to get an answerphone but please leave a message)

Emma in Bromley x

UPDATE - Response and additional information provided by Karen Lewis:

Hi Emma

Below are my details should anyone be interested in donating, please do email or call Jean or myself ( or . We are looking for women who can donate three to four 4oz/ 100ml bottles per week  over a couple of months. The reason we can't take donations of just a few bottles is due to the fact that we have to blood test every donor at the point of donation and this costs us £50plus per donor.

Our milk pasteurised at the PRUH is also used at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich as we are part of the same Trust.

You may have seen the program "Is Breast Best" and on the programme they mention the cost of buying pasteurised donor breastmilk and this cost refers to units who don't have pasteurising facilities. The £100 per litre refers to the cost of pasteurising the milk, the testing and screening is very expensive. The milk itself is free they are paying for the processing of the milk. They actually do very well out of it as it costs more than £100 to process a litre of milk.

If you'd like to read more about milk banking then please view the following website

What milk banking would really like to see is regional milk banks so that donor breastmilk is available to all premature and sick babies. At present hospitals that buy milk in often give the milk to just a few very sick babies but restrict this due to cost. So other babies who may benefit don't receive the milk.

At South London Healthcare NHS Trust we use donor milk to prevent Necrotising Enterocolotis (a disease that can perforate the baby's intestines), one in 25 babies confirmed with this condition will die. The sad thing is that many hospitals who buy milk in are buying it to give to a baby post surgery who has had the disease. Prevention has to be better than cure, which is why it needs to be more available at a regional level.

We do now have a poster we can forward via email and have asked for it to be displayed at HV clinics. However, there's no funding for a professional quality poster.

Anyway better go now, but thanks for letting me give you a little info.


PS Would love to have you as a donor. Thanks for blog.

Karen Lewis
Infant Feeding Support Centre/Milk Bank
01689 864924
Bleep 388

1 comment:

  1. popping over from britmums, the pru is now one of my nearest since sidcup shut. I also never realised there were any milk banks in this neck of the wood and i had an excessive amount of milk when feeding my second son for over a year. my small one was also in sidcup neonatal for 3 months end of 09 start of 2010, though sadly its now shut :( x
    Abs @


Thank you for your comments

Emma x