Milk bank calls for breast milk donors
KARLA and Kurt Holzl have been given the ultimate Christmas gift - two tiny identical twin girls, whose lives have already been touched by the kindness of strangers.
Matilda and Isabelle Holzl, born at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital on November 27, have been fed with donated breast milk after their mum struggled to produce her own.
The Queensland Milk Bank, based at the RBWH, provides donated breast milk to 17 public and private hospitals - as far north as Cairns and south to Hobart - but frequently struggles during holiday periods as donors spend time with their families.
With plans to expand its reach to Darwin in the New Year, Australia's largest supplier of donated breast milk, has issued an SOS to women to consider donating their surplus breast milk to help extremely premature babies.
The milk bank's clinical nurse consultant Karen Langford said that in January last year the bank had to limit the number of hospitals it supplied to because of a shortage of pasteurised breast milk.
"We don't want to have the same problem come January, 2019," Ms Langford said. "We need a lot more donors. We generally find that over the Christmas/New Year period people stop donating and last year we hit a crisis point."
She said about 700 Mums had donated to the milk bank since it was launched six years ago, including women who had lost babies to stillbirth.
Ms Langford said Mums did not need to live in a big city to donate their excess breast milk.
"We've got a lady in Injune at the moment who is kindly donating to us," she said. "She tells her husband she's going shopping and she brings her milk to the Toowoomba Base Hospital."
The donated milk is given to babies born at less than 34 weeks' gestation or under 1500g in weight if their own mothers are unable to produce enough breast milk.
Ms Langford said research showed that premature babies fed with breast milk were 70 per cent less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis - a serious condition in which parts of the bowel die.
Matilda Holzl was just 1436g when she was born and sister Isabelle tipped the scales at 1390g.
They will spend Christmas Day in hospital with their Mum, Dad Kurt and siblings Lulu, 4, and Xander, 2, but are doing well and are expected to be home by the end of January.
"For me, it's a miracle really that we were able to have the option of giving them donated breast milk," Mrs Holzl said. "They're doing really well."
Women wishing to donate their breast milk can contact the Queensland Milk Bank Facebook page, phone 3646 0542 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org