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Jan-25-2010 21:23printcomments

Urgent Call for Human Milk Donations for Haiti Infants

Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants, mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Mother breastfeeding in Haiti
Photo from Haiti taken this week, courtesy: United Nations

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.

This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy Ship “Comfort” stationed outside Haiti. “Comfort” is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake.

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to the “Comfort.” Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board the “Comfort” to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLL are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the U.S.N.S. Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.

At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk on land to Haiti infants has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.

Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available at the HMBANA website at

Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for both Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the U.S. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants.

Financial donations are also strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue serving infants in need.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency.

Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.

For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 or Additional information can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132 (, ILCA/USLCA at 1-800-452-2478 ( or, or La Leche League at 847-519-7730 (

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gp January 26, 2010 12:05 pm (Pacific time)

Part of my life's work was teaching breastfeeding techniques to those who needed help getting started. It pleases me greatly to see this wonderful photo of a child at breast, not a sexualized breast, not a shamed mother hiding under some kind of a tent so as not to offend some puritan, just a beautiful photo of a child eating the best food possible.

Tim King: Gail, thanks for your comment, this is what you describe, and also a current image from Haiti.  Please note the story we just published about the missing doctor whose orphanage contacted us to write a story and publish his photos, this is sadly so far from over.

jacqui January 25, 2010 11:25 pm (Pacific time)

Just how would the milk itself be transported and stored? Great to think the value of human milk speaks for itself in times like this.

Editor: Jacqui, I don't have the specifics but they have a pretty sound method of cold storage from what I understand.  I agree, few things are more important.

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