Courtesy The Tribune, Chandigarh Tribune
-100 babies bank on breast milk donations in 2 months
The Human Milk Bank at GMCH-32 is small, spotless and silent. Little bottles of pasteurized breast milk stocked in enormous stainless steel freezers await tiny ‘customers’. A deep freezer in a corner, filled with bags of this ‘liquid gold’, is waiting to be pasteurized. The young staff of the bank welcomes in a sleepy-looking customer — a new father, with a petite, pink baby in his arms. Yes, Little angels banking on Human Milk Bank in Chandigarh.
Sanjeev Singh’s wife isn’t producing enough milk yet for their two-day old daughter and he is here to get his daughter’s ‘lunch’. Within minutes, a staff member feeds the baby with a bottle and the father-daughter duo exit, leaving behind a smiling nurse.
The region’s first human milk bank that opened in September at GMCH-32 is doing brisk ‘business’. Over the last two months, the bank has generated nearly 30 litres of milk, which has fed 100 infants, that too, free-of-cost. The bank regularly receives, screens and pasteurizes breast milk from donor mothers and provides it to premature and sick babies born in the hospital. It also caters to those infants whose mothers are physiologically unable to breastfeed.
“For premature infants, donor milk can be life-saving,” says Dr Deepak Chawla, associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, GMCH-32, who, along with his colleague Prof Suksham Jain, manages the bank, set up at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. Dr Chawla further says, “Pre-term babies are prone to infections and are considerably under-weight. Providing human breast milk to these fragile neonates can cut the risk of infection considerably and help save their lives.”
Currently, the bank has a capacity of 3 liters. “We will increase this once we have enough finances and human resources,” he said, adding that counseling sessions for all mothers are being held in the hospital to encourage them to donate milk.
MAKING IT ‘BIG’-“Every day we have about 25-30 deliveries in the hospital, including several pre-term births. Currently, the bank is catering to the requirements of the babies born in the hospital. We are hopeful that in next 6 months-1 year, we will be able to expand and cater to the needs of babies born outside of the hospital,” Dr Chawla said.
DONATE MILK, SAVE A LIFE- All healthy mothers producing excess milk beyond the needs of their children can donate milk to the milk bank