Magen David Adom’s National Blood Bank announced Sunday that it will soon open a breast milk bank to allow nursing mothers to donate surplus milk for babies who do not have access to it.
The bank is being set up in conjunction with the Israel Milk Bank, a non-profit organization that has been working toward creating a human milk bank in Israel.
Though there are some 500 milk banks around the world, this will be the first one in Israel. It is scheduled to begin operation in April 2018.
The bank will collect two types of milk: milk from mothers who gave birth from the 34th week until six weeks after birth, which will be used primarily for premature babies and milk from mothers who gave birth at full term.
Research has shown that breast milk has many advantages over baby formula, and provides antibodies that protect the baby from disease and help build the immune system, which is especially important for premature babies.
Dr Asher Mozer, deputy director of the blood bank services explained that in addition to checking the health of the women before they make a donation, the milk collected will be transferred to the milk bank where it will undergo additional tests and analysis. It will then be pasteurized and frozen for storage.
Initially, the focus will be on providing for babies born prematurely, and for babies in hospital. Any excess milk will be given to any infant who needs it, he said.
Ayelet Shinar, director of the blood bank, said that by working with the Israel Milk Bank and the Health Ministry it will be able to provide the best service for babies.
Milk donations will be accepted at the Jerusalem blood donation center and other locations around the country.
The milk bank, to be operated along similar lines to the blood bank, will be funded primarily by Magen David Adom with support from the Health Ministry.