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Thank you – on behalf of the babies!
Written by Communications Team   

The tiny, fragile babies who need highly skilled nursing by the staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, also need something else – mother’s milk.

  Russell and Sharon Peirson-Hagger with son Leo, daughter Mia, grandparents Neil and Sylvia Turner and Milk Bank Co-ordinator Suzanne Timms.

Said Matron for Neonatal Intensive Care Audrey Elmore: “There is always a need for this very valuable milk. Extremely premature babies have immature digestive systems and often cannot tolerate formula milk. If their mothers are unable to provide enough of their own breast milk, then donor milk is the ideal substitute.”

There are only 17 milk banks in the country, and one of them is at the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust. A new £19,000 pasteurizer, purchased with Early Births Fund donations, is now up and running and on Friday (03-10-09) the Peirson-Hagger family of Addlestone, who donated £10,000, visited the unit to see the equipment.

Babies are often transferred to St. Peter’s, which is a Surrey/Sussex Network Centre for Neonatal Care. The Mums are usually transferred to St. Peter’s to be with their baby or discharged home, which can be as far away as Brighton, Southampton or Eastbourne and therefore they may not be able to visit daily. Parents’ permission is always sought before a baby is given donated milk, usually via a tube as most premature babies cannot co-ordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing until about 34 weeks.

Women who have had babies and have a plentiful supply of breast milk can donate to the milk bank, if they meet the screening criteria. If found suitable they receive instructions on how to store expressed milk in special containers in their freezer at home before transporting it in cool bags to the milk bank co-ordinators in NICU. The milk is then pasteurized in sterile bottles with a probe linked to a computer recording the process and taking readings every minute. At the end of the process the pasteurizing machine cools the milk, which is then frozen until needed. The new machine’s design together with a faster pasteurizing cycle allows for 40 bottles at a time to be processed instead of 34.

Said Audrey: “Having this state-of-the-art pasteurizer will mean we can have more milk in reserve. The £10,000 donated by the Peirson-Hagger family got the fundraising off to a tremendous start and we are very grateful to them, and all the families and organisations who have contributed to the £19,000 cost.”

Mia Peirson-Hagger was born with complications at St. Peter’s Hospital on 23 November 2007. She was transferred and treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital before being returned to NICU at St. Peter’s, finally going home at four weeks old. The family immediately set up the “Mia Grace Fund” aiming to raise as much as possible for both hospitals in 12 months, and to make Mia’s “Birthday Gift” of £10,000 each to hospital on her 1srt birthday – which they did in 2008.

After seeing the new pasteurizer Sharon Peirson-Hagger said: “We are thrilled to see the money raised by our family and friends has been spent on such a useful piece of equipment. It was wonderful coming back to NICU to show Mia off and thank the staff again for the fantastic care she received almost two years ago.”

Any women who would like to find out more about donating to the NICU Milk Bank can phone NICU reception on: 01932 722015.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 October 2009 14:03