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Protecting fragile intestines – Croatia

Born at 26 week’s gestation plus 4 days, this little boy faced months in hospital before he was able to be at home with his family. To start off with his mother was expressing her own milk however like so many new born, premature babies he needed some extra milk and he first received donor milk on day 2 of his young life. His parents live 100km away from Zagreb where the hospital and the milk bank are located and this meant they were making the round trip several times each week.  This wasn’t enough to prevent all the periods of separation and together with the stress of having a very sick little boy this affected her milk supply. Happily, donor milk was available from the milk bank and throughout his long weeks in hospital he received more than 10 litres of donor milk over a period of 62 days.

His time in hospital was complicated by a number of serious clinical conditions that added to his mother’s stress. These included chronic lung disease and retinopathy of prematurity (affecting his eyes).  Very seriously he also experienced bleeding from his gastro-intestinal system and this is indicative of serious problems including the possibility of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Fortunately he didn’t require surgery but it did mean that his immature digestive system needed to avoid any feeds that might exacerbate his problems and human milk is always prioritized for babies with gut complications. 

His mother is very clear – she believes her son is alive today with the help of the donated milk that was fed to him over almost 9 weeks. And because of his diagnosis of NEC, she knows that the donor milk played an important role in protecting his fragile intestines. Now, he is progressing well. He regularly practices his motor skills with a physical therapist and his parents.

Asked to share a message for mothers who donate milk or who may do so in the future she wrote ‘I felt safe because I knew how important it was for him and I couldn’t give him my own milk. The milk cure is within us. Donate a drop for a premature baby – and save a life’.

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