Bengaluru: The first anniversary of Bengaluru’s first public human milk bank, Amaara, was celebrated on Tuesday by Fortis La Femme, Richmond Road in association with the Breast Milk Foundation (BMF), a non-profit organisation within the GNS foundation.
Amaara is an initiative in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Millennium Development Goals of reducing infant mortality rate. The WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend that the best feed for a baby who cannot be breastfed is milk expressed from own mother or from another healthy mother.
The hospital has pioneered a collection system in which a mother can express the milk in the comfort of her home, which is collected by a carrier from the bank in specialised freezer boxes and transported to the bank to be sent to a premature baby whenever needed, said Mr Srikant Subudhi, Facility Director, Fortis La Femme. BMF Founder Dr Ankit Srivastava highlighted BMF’s efforts in raising awareness and hope to open more such branches. Dr Raghuram Mallaiah, Director Neonatology, Fortis La Femme, and co-founder Amaara, said, “In India, prematurity and low birth weight are the biggest contributors of neonatal/infant mortality. According to recent government surveys, prematurity is among the 10 most common causes of mortality in all age groups. Donating human milk goes a long way in helping save these vulnerable babies and decreasing infant mortality.’’ So far, 31 hospitals have been using the services of Fortis La Femme’s Pasteurised Donor Breast Milk and 176 preterm babies have benefited. But the demand is steadily growing, pointed out Dr Sreenath Manikanti, Head, Neonatology, Fortis La Femme.
Dr Suman, a donor mother, said, “I am a paediatrician and knowing how important mother’s milk is to the baby made me realise that when I have excess milk, I did not want to waste this liquid gold. I wish milk banks like Amaara can start their services in other cities too’’. A recipient mother, Shwetha Kamath, said, “My babies were premature triplets delivered at 31 weeks and weighed 1.5 kg each. I did not have enough breast milk to feed them all and was worried about their nutrition. Amaara milk bank was the God send for me and my babies. They were in NICU for three weeks and at the time of their discharge they were healthy enough with the nutrition from donor milk.”