Saigon human milk bank gets first donor

By Le Phuong   March 31, 2019 | 09:24 pm PT
A mother who recently delivered a premature baby has become the first donor at Ho Chi Minh’s human milk bank.

Pham Thi Tuyen’s first child was born prematurely at Tu Du Hospital in Saigon on the 2019 Lunar New Year’s Day. He weighed 900 grams and was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Tuyen explained: "The midwives were showing me how to pump my milk so it could be delivered to ... my son when they told me about the breast milk bank. I find myself with lots of milk, so I offered to donate."

Every day Tuyen would pump enough for her child and the rest is taken to the bank by hospital staff. She has donated around 14 liters so far.

The first human milk bank in Ho Chi Minh City began trial operation on March 19.

After nearly two years of preparation the first international standard human milk bank was established in HCMC with the help of international organizations and experts to meet the needs of premature babies who lack biological milk and many mothers’ desire to share.

The screening and selection of donated breast milk follow strict procedures to ensure safety. Upon receipt, the bank pasteurizes, tests and stores the milk before feeding it to newborns.

On average, every year 6,000-7,000 premature babies with low weight are born and need treatment. It is estimated the bank needs about 14 liters of breast milk daily to meet their needs.

After the trial operation period and appraisal, Tu Du Hospital is expected to officially open the breast milk bank on April 10.

Vietnam’s first human milk bank opened at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital in Da Nang in February 2017.

A survey by the health ministry found that only 19 percent of Vietnamese infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months, significantly lower than in neighboring Laos (40 percent) and Cambodia (60 percent).

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