Autumn Appeal 2020

It’s heartbreaking to watch your baby in intensive care. Being able to keep giving them breastmilk is such a comfort.

Franklin Edgley was born at just 26 weeks, weighing a tiny 808 grams. While being first-time parents was scary enough for Franklin’s parents Catherine and Matthew, they never expected to spend the first couple of months of their new baby’s life visiting him in intensive care.

After six long years of trying for a baby and three rounds of IVF, Franklin was conceived. But when Catherine was just 25 weeks into her pregnancy, doctors discovered that she had major complications and was bleeding profusely. She was transferred via emergency ambulance from a regional hospital to Mercy Hospital for Women where Franklin was born one week later. Being a neonatal nurse herself, Catherine knew that pasteurised donor milk from the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank could provide a boost to Franklin’s nutrition and give him a better fighting chance during those first critical weeks of life.

Catherine had her heart set on breastfeeding Franklin, but the separation of intensive care can impact on a mother’s capacity to produce breastmilk for her baby. “When you have an extremely premature baby you feel quite helpless, so anything you can do to help the development of your baby is fantastic,” said Catherine.

“If you are lucky enough to gain access to such a wonderful program, why wouldn’t you accept that help and give your baby every chance for optimal development and growth.”

With the help of pasteurised donor milk, Franklin has been able to grow and gain strength as well as receive many of the vital nutrients that are unique in breastmilk.

“We are most thankful to the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank for providing us with the opportunity to supplement Franklin’s feeds with donor milk until my supply is adequate for him,” said Catherine.

Studies show that when a mother’s own supply is low, providing preterm babies with pasteurised donor milk — instead of infant formula — has substantial health benefits. Importantly, babies fed pasteurised donor milk rather than infant formula are four to six times less likely to suffer from the gastrointestinal illness known as necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) — a dangerous condition that affects the bowels and can lead to death.

Around 1 in 10 babies in Australia is born premature — and as this number is on the rise — we are asking for your support to help the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank service other neonatal intensive care units across Victoria, giving many more babies access to safe, pasteurised donor milk.

Established in 2011, the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank is the only one of its kind in Victoria, and has helped more than 300 babies. With the service receiving no dedicated funding, Mercy Health Foundation needs your support in raising funds for vital equipment including thermometers, bottles, pasteurisers and breast pumps.

Up until June last year, only babies born at the Mercy Hospital for Women could access pasteurised donor milk but satellite sites are now operating at major neonatal intensive care units across the state.

Please support the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank today. Your donation will go towards our long term aim of making pasteurised donor milk available to every critically ill baby in neonatal intensive care units across Victoria.

Last reviewed March 13, 2020.