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Norfolk breast milk donor urges other mothers to back pioneering scheme

PUBLISHED: 11:59 10 December 2012 | UPDATED: 15:16 10 December 2012

Breast milk donor Stephanie O'Reilly with her daughter Elise. Picture: Ian Burt

Breast milk donor Stephanie O'Reilly with her daughter Elise. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

A mother-of-two is urging Norfolk women to get behind a pioneering breast milk donor scheme benefiting sick and premature babies.

Stephanie O’Reilly, 33, began donating her breast milk two years ago following the birth of her first child, Liam, in Cambridge and was determined to keep it up when she fell pregnant again.

By then she and husband Tom had moved to Downham Market and they were shocked to find there was no system in place and very little awareness of breast milk donation.

After weeks of careful research, Mrs O’Reilly made contact with the SERV Norfolk charity, whose motorcycle volunteers transport blood, samples and test results between hospitals during out-of-hours.

She found the ‘blood bikers’ were already trying to establish a breast milk collection and delivery service and, after undergoing medical tests, she became their first donor.

Baby Elise was born two months ago and SERV volunteer Duncan Edwards, from Gayton, recently made the inaugural milk run, whisking 21 bottles of frozen milk to the Rosie Hospital, a maternity hospital in Cambridge.

“I express every morning after I have fed Elise,” Mrs O’Reilly, originally from France, said. “It makes me feel useful. It’s something I can do really easily to help and it doesn’t cost anything.

“To any mums considering becoming a donor, I would say go for it. Unfortunately, there will always be babies who are born early and need the milk.

“If a baby is born three or four months early, sometimes your body is not ready to produce the milk or it doesn’t come because of the shock. If you know your baby has been born smaller than a kitten, having to express milk can mess with your mind.”

Liam was born a month early and Elise also had a difficult birth. Both spent time in the special care unit at the Rosie and Mrs O’Reilly’s 13-year-old niece Mathilde was also born very prematurely.

“In a way it’s also a way to say thank you to the NHS for its care,” Mrs O’Reilly added. “If it had not been for the hospital, the doctors and all the equipment, Elise would not be here.”

SERV Norfolk will make another milk run to Cambridge once Mrs O’Reilly, a teacher, has produced another batch of bottles.

“It would be brilliant if there was something like this at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn,” she added.

Mr Edwards, the charity’s events officer, said the breast milk scheme was a fantastic idea.

“It’s something I’ve pushed for from the start and something I feel passionate about,” he said. “It’s great this is finally off the ground and I could do the first run.”

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