U.S. breast milk gifted to South African moms

2012-07-18 00:00

A DURBAN non-government organisation has received over 100 litres of donor breast milk from the United States.

2 375 bottles (about 325 litres) were donated to the country by the International Breast Milk Project (IBMP), and will be split between Durban and Cape Town, where they will be used to feed premature, sick and orphaned babies.

iThemba Lethu NGO from Durban was grateful yesterday after receiving the donation.

Kirsten Coutsoudis, a co-ordinator from the NGO, told The Witness they had received an estimated 154 litres from the American organisation. The donation would help the NGO feed the babies for a long time, said Coutsoudis.

This donation was not the first they had received from IBMP.

“We get a donation from them every year. This has been happening for the last four years and we are very grateful for that.”

Amanda Nickerson, executive director of IBMP, said they support iThemba Lethu because one-third of people in several towns in the country are HIV-positive.

“This makes recruiting healthy local milk donors exceedingly difficult,” said Nickerson.

“International Breast Milk Project is the only organisation in the world to make large provisions of donor breast milk to infants suffering from HIV/Aids, malnourishment, poverty and disease in Africa.”

Coutsoudis said the breast milk is flown over frozen and packed with dry ice. “We can keep it for up to six months. We either use it by then, or if we don’t think we will be able to use it all, we donate it to other organisations that might need it,” she said.

The screening of potential donors is very similar to that done for blood donors, she said.

“We also require a copy of an HIV test from a doctor.”

Women who are HIV-positive, have been diagnosed with TB, smokers, and those who have had piercings or tattoos within a certain period of time prior to donating would not be eligible to donate.

“They have to be healthy people who live healthy lifestyles,” she said.

If any mothers are interested in donating breast milk, they can contact iThemba Lethu at 084 330 0025.

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