KBC English Service: How human milk bank is keeping babies healthy

Gladys Wairimu, a mother. Photo/Lourdes Walusala

In January 2021, Gladys Wairimu gave birth to twins. Since they were premature and with low-birth-weight, they were taken to Pumwani Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for treatment and care. Unfortunately, one of the twins succumbed. Shortly after, Gladys developed a clot commonly known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) on her left leg. She was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital for treatment and since the NICU at Kenyatta National Hospital was full, she left her baby at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital for two weeks. Baby Hope, as she was referred to by the staff at the Newborn Unit, relied on milk donated by mothers with surplus milk.

The human milk bank at the Pumwani Maternity hospital was launched almost two years ago to help infants like baby Hope, who could not access their mother’s breast milk for one reason or another as recommended by the World Health Organization.

Kezia Njau, a nurse at Pumwani Maternity Hospital. Photo/ Lourdes Walusala

The inauguration of the milk bank was an effort to reduce neonatal deaths, especially among preterm babies. So far, over 300 babies have benefitted from the human milk donated by over 600 mothers.

With COVID-19 came disruption in the whole medical activity, including human milk banking. This podcast focuses on how the pandemic affected the human milk bank at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital and alternative measures taken to provide an exclusive human milk diet for infants during the pandemic.

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