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08th Mar 2017

Ireland’s breast milk bank is running very low on supply and here is how you can donate NOW

Trine Jensen-Burke

Ireland’s only breast milk bank is running dangerously low on supply and has now issued an appeal on social media for donations. 

The Western Trust milk bank was opened in 2000 and is located in Co Fermanagh, providing breast milk to neonatal units in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Currently, the bank reckons they only have about two weeks of stock left.

Ann McCrea explained to the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme that the breast milk bank was one of the reasons more premature babies were surviving.

“For these tiny, tiny little ones – breast milk is liquid gold, it’s liquid medicine,” she said.

Adding that in some cases, donated milk could literally mean “the difference between life and death”.

The breast milk bank issues around 1,500 litres of milk to units around Ireland each year, and in 2015 it helped approximately 856 babies including 90 sets of twins and 17 sets of triplets.

According to the HSE website, the bank has sent appeals to breastfeeding mums across Ireland via breastfeeding support groups on Facebook and other social media, asking breastfeeding mothers who have excess milk to donate and help other infants.

“This gesture can help tiny, premature, sick babies survive and leave hospital more quickly,” according to the website, explaining how donors are asked to provide a donation of at least three litres by the time their baby is 6 months old.

A full medical history is taken from all potential donors and all donations are screened. A tracking system means all milk can be traced back to the mother who donated it.


As for collecting the milk, the bank issues donors with pre-sterilised bottles, and mothers record their name and expression date on each bottle.

The milk can be frozen. Once donors have collected enough they contact the milk bank for a transport box which is then sent back to the bank, deep-frozen, using various transport routes. It is then sent on to hospitals and doctors who request it.

Potential donors are being asked to contact the Milk Bank at [email protected]