Human Milk Bank opens in Hà Nội
HÀ NỘI — The National Pediatrics Hospital officially opened its Human Milk Bank on March 22 with the support of the Ministry of Health and the Government of Ireland, Alive & Thrive and Newborns Vietnam.
This is the first Human Milk Bank in Hà Nội, which will provide donated breast milk for more than a thousand at-risk babies treated at the National Pediatrics Hospital, who are temporarily unable to access their own mothers’ milk.
The bank plans to expand its scope of operations in the near future, providing sufficient human donor milk for neighbouring hospitals in the Red River Delta.
“Pasteurised and screened human donor milk is a life-saving medicine that increases vulnerable infants’ chance of survival and good health,” said Associate Professor Trần Minh Điển, Director of the National Pediatrics Hospital, at the opening ceremony.
“Studies show that for vulnerable infants, in comparison to commercial milk formula, pasteurised human donor milk can reduce the possibility of infections during the first 28 days of the neonatal period by 19 per cent, decrease hospitalisations by 15 days, and shorten the intravenous feeding time by 10 days.”
Dr Đinh Anh Tuấn, Deputy Director, Department of Maternal and Child Health, said: “Precautions and testing ensure the safety of vulnerable babies who use donated milk. Mothers need to pass a blood test and other requirements to become human milk donors, while their raw collected breast milk will be microbiologically tested before and after pasteurisation.”
Since October 2021, the Human Milk Bank has received over 600 litres of donated human milk from 38 mothers whose infants were undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Dr Lê Thị Hà, Director of Neonatal Care Center at the National Pediatrics Hospital, said that pasteurised human milk had been provided to 280 babies, including 62 babies affected by COVID-19, either infected themselves or with mothers with COVID-19 too severe to breastfeed.
“While taking care of my preterm baby at the National Pediatrics Hospital, I saw many other babies in the intensive care unit having digestive and respiratory problems and missing out on their mothers’ milk nutrients," said Khánh Ly, a human milk donor.
"After seeing the other infants struggling, I wanted to share my breast milk, and I am thankful for the opportunity to support other families in raising their children."
Ly’s baby is now seven months old, and she continues to donate her surplus breast milk.
The Human Milk Bank at the National Pediatrics Hospital is among seven Human Milk Banks and satellite Human Milk Banks currently in operation in Việt Nam.
Seán Farrell, Development Specialist at the Embassy of Ireland in Việt Nam, said: “Ireland is proud to contribute to the Human Milk Bank network in Việt Nam. Human Milk Banks nourish the group that is furthest behind – vulnerable babies, including those born prematurely, underweight, or infected with COVID-19.
"I want to thank all the human milk donors and staff of the Human Milk Bank and other Milk Banks in Việt Nam. You are devoted to supporting miracles, giving babies a better chance at strong, healthy lives.” — VNS