Activist compiles list of breast milk donors for motherless infants
In a novel initiative, an activist is compiling a list of women willing to donate their breast milk for infants who have lost their mothers to coronavirus. The move comes after many such requests for breast milk were received on social media. Activist Anvy Shrivastava with the help of the Delhi government's health department is compiling such a list of breast milk donors.
A database of such donors is being prepared
"Milk banks usually provide 30 ml of breast milk for Rs. 300, but underprivileged families cannot afford it," Shrivastava said. "We are getting donors and we specifically ask them if they have stored colostrum. We are maintaining a database of such donors. Most of these donors are from privileged backgrounds. They store the milk as per their doctors' advice," Shrivastava added.
Currently, they have 20 registered donors
Shrivastava said her team gets breast milk requests from attendants of infants admitted in neonatal ICUs. "At present, we have around 20 donors. The milk is stored datewise. We collect the milk and send it to a milk bank for screening. The donor should not be suffering from any ailment or be COVID-19 positive," the activist said.
We are preparing for a future crisis: Shrivastava
"We have few donors for colostrum which is produced by a mother in the initial days after she gives birth," Shrivastava said. Freshly pumped milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for six months. "We are anticipating that underprivileged families might need breast milk and there can be a crisis in the future," she said.
Milk Banks say they receive multiple requests for breast milk
The Delhi Commission For Protection of Child Rights also said that it received many requests for breast milk amid the pandemic. Dr. Raghuram Mallaiah, Director, Neonatology Fortis La Femme and Founder, Amaara Human Milk Bank, Delhi and Bengaluru, said, "During the pandemic, we got requests from two to three hospitals where babies were born premature and their COVID-19 positive mothers were on a ventilator."
Donations have declined due to fear of COVID-19: Dr. Mallaiah
There has been a dip in the number of donors amid the pandemic outbreak. "Pre-COVID-19, we had 50 liters of breast milk in our bank, but due to the fear of COVID-19, donations have declined. Since April, we have had donations of 15-20 liters a month," Dr. Mallaiah said. Fortis discontinued its donation of 40 bottles of breast milk to Maulana Azad Medical College.