Milk Bank celebrates 10th anniversary

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Milk Bank is celebrating 10 years of helping to change the lives of mothers, families and their infants.

The national service, which is hosted at NHSGGC’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital marked its anniversary on Tuesday 27th of June, bringing together donors and staff who have contributed over the years.

Donor human milk (DHM) is breastmilk donated to a human milk bank by mothers who have extra to spare. Donors are screened, including blood tests, to make sure their milk is suitable. The milk is also tested for bacteria before being heat treated. Just like with blood donations, the milk is freely donated, and its use tracked and recorded.

With more than 2,330 donors, the service provides support to often premature babies whose mothers may not have enough of their own breastmilk in the early days.

Milk Bank Donor Co-ordinator Debbie Barnett said: “It was really lovely to see everyone and a great way to celebrate but also reflect. To celebrate how far the service has come and to reflect on all of the families we have helped over the years.

“For me the most important thing is how the service has grown organically over time. Another big thing is how widely recognised donated human milk is becoming, it’s more accepted and people are becoming more aware of the impact it can have.”

Starting out at Yorkhill Children’s Hospital, becoming a national service in 2013, the milk bank has continued to grow thanks to the incredible dedicated team of staff, volunteers and donors, alongside the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, who have been a funding partner since the start.

Kirsten Watson, CEO, Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity said: “The donors and drivers who volunteer for Scotland’s Milk Bank truly are life-saving heroes, and it is our privilege to support them. Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity was a proud founding partner of the nationwide service in 2013, and has now invested more than £270,000 in the milk bank. From those humble beginnings at Yorkhill the milk bank has continued to evolve, and has been a lifeline to thousands of the tiniest and most vulnerable babies across Scotland. Every week our volunteer drivers travel hundreds of miles to collect and deliver donor milk, and we are incredibly thankful for their dedication to our youngest patients.”

Debbie added: “We hear from staff how valued the Milk Bank is. It really is an incredible service, for some it’s life-saving, for very premature babies the provision of donor milk is hugely beneficial. We’re getting more and more donors coming forward to discuss how they can donate, which is great but we know there is still work to do.”

One of those donors is Rebecca Robson, 27, who is from Glasgow. The mother of two spoke at to those in attendance to mark anniversary, highlighting her positive experience.

Rebecca who also volunteers with Glasgow Breast Feeding Buddies, said: “I’ll never know the families I’m helping, but I do know they are unbelievably grateful for the effort and time that me and my fellow donors put in.

“I think a lot of people think being a breast milk donor can restrict your life, but I’ve never felt that way before. I only express on my own schedule and my own child comes first. Being a donor is so rewarding, you’re giving a gift that no amount of money can buy and you’re having such a positive impact on so many families!”

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