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First breast milk donor hub to open in Norfolk

Premature baby Stanley Harwood, 12-weeks-old, who was born at 23 weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Premature baby Stanley Harwood, 12-weeks-old, who was born at 23 weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

When little Stanley Harwood was born at just 23 weeks old, he was too small to be able to be fed using his mother's breastmilk.

Lisa Harwood Bird of Gayton with her premature son Stanley born at 23 weeks, who is now 12-weeks-old. Lisa is donating some of her breast milk to the Human Milk Foundation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLisa Harwood Bird of Gayton with her premature son Stanley born at 23 weeks, who is now 12-weeks-old. Lisa is donating some of her breast milk to the Human Milk Foundation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

So instead of letting it go to waste Lisa Harwood Bird decided instead to donate her milk, to help mothers who, for whatever reason, were not able to produce their own.

Now, she has welcomed the opening of Norfolk's first breast milk bank so mothers in the community, whose babies need short-term donor milk to help establish their own milk supply, or where they are unable to breastfeed for medical or practical reasons, can access help.

The donor breast milk hub is the very first of it's kind and will be located in Norwich.

The funding has come from the Norfolk Freemasons Charitable Fund, which donated £8,776 to purchase the vital specialised breast milk storage fridge, and it will be run by the Himan Milk Foundation and SERV Norfolk.

Lisa Harwood Bird of Gayton with her premature son Stanley born at 23 weeks, who is now 12-weeks-old. Lisa is donating some of her breast milk to the Human Milk Foundation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLisa Harwood Bird of Gayton with her premature son Stanley born at 23 weeks, who is now 12-weeks-old. Lisa is donating some of her breast milk to the Human Milk Foundation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mrs Harwood Bird, 41, gave birth in February, and has just brought 12-week-old Stanley home in the last week. When he was born he weighed just one pound and eight ounces, now he is up to four pound two ounces and is doing "fabulously".

She said: "My milk supply came in and he was too small to take it, he wasn't able to take a feed off the bottle or the breast, but I was producing. So I had all this extra milk, and there are a lot of people out there with premature babies and they're not able to produce for whatever reason."

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So as well as freezing her milk for when Stanley was able to take it, Mrs Harwood Bird began donating her milk - meaning not only could she carry on her supply but help others too.

Lisa Harwood Bird of Gayton with her premature son Stanley born at 23 weeks, who is now 12-weeks-old. Lisa is donating some of her breast milk to the Human Milk Foundation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLisa Harwood Bird of Gayton with her premature son Stanley born at 23 weeks, who is now 12-weeks-old. Lisa is donating some of her breast milk to the Human Milk Foundation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"I became a donor," she said. "It just gives them an extra option."

Mrs Harwood Bird who lives in Gayton with husband Paul and her other son William, five, got in touch with the Human Milk Foundation and underwent a number of tests to check she was a suitable donor, and then her donations started to be collected.

She said a hub in Norwich would mean access to the milk was easier for local mothers, as previously it had to be brought in from Cambridge or Hertfordshire.

Mrs Harwood Bird said while formula feeding was also an option, the donor milk meant mother's who had choice taken away from them, were given that option back.

Premature baby Stanley Harwood, 12-weeks-old, who was born at 23 weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPremature baby Stanley Harwood, 12-weeks-old, who was born at 23 weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dr Natalie Shenker from The Human Milk Foundation said: "We are overjoyed to have received this support to establish the very first Human Milk Foundation donor milk hub.

"This will help more mothers across Norfolk to donate their milk, including those who have been sadly bereaved. Donor milk will be more easily available to the hospitals in Norfolk caring for very sick or premature babies, for whom human milk can be lifesaving, as well as to mothers diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses that mean they cannot breastfeed. This will be a model which can be rolled out across the country."

Transport will be provided by SERV Norfolk, whose blood bike volunteers currently carry blood, plasma, platelets, samples and vaccines to hospitals. SERV Norfolk operations manager Colin Farrington added: "We have quietly been working on this project for a while, but the funding from Norfolk Freemasons means we can now move forward."

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