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March 2011

People with newborns in hospital jpeg
Minister for Health David Davis with mum Melissa Italia and newborn twins Chloe and Jake at the Mercy Hospital for Women.

Mercy Health opens breastmilk bank

The first breastmilk bank at Melbourne’s Mercy Hospital for Women has opened.

Health Minister David Davis said the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank would collect, screen, pasteurise and store donor milk for sick, premature and extremely small babies whose mothers could not supply sufficient milk.

Mr Davis said the bank was an important initiative which would greatly benefit sick and premature babies and their mothers.

‘This is world-class work and further demonstration of why Mercy Hospital for Women and Mercy Health itself have such a reputation for excellence in supporting the health of women and the most vulnerable of humans, very small babies,’ Mr Davis said.

‘This service will provide an important first start for hundreds of vulnerable Victorian babies each year and give them the best possible start to life.’

Head of Unit at Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank Gillian Opie said mothers of very premature babies would now have access to pasteurised donor milk, containing human specific proteins and oligosaccharides for protection against infectious diseases and to establish immunity.

‘Mercy Hospital for Women each year provides care to some 1,200 babies, 300 of whom are born very early and small – before 32 weeks gestation and less than 1,500 grams birth weight,’ Dr Opie said.

‘For these vulnerable babies we prefer to use mother’s own breastmilk but, should their mothers have insufficient milk, pasteurised donor milk makes a very real difference to their prospects in the first days of their lives.’