Photo Credit: Courtesy Magen David Adom
Liraz and Gal Carmeli, the baby's parents

Two weeks ago, Magen David Adom’s National Human Milk Bank was contacted by Carmel Medical Center in Haifa with the request to urgently supply safe breast milk for a premature baby — due to the mother’s medical condition she could not breastfeed her infant.

Although the operational agreements have not yet been finalized between the Human Milk Bank and the Ministry of Health, the health Ministry, MDA’s Deputy Director General of Blood Services  and the  MDA Director General approved  the supply of the needed milk for the premature infant. This is the first baby in Israel to be fed milk from the MDA National Human Milk Bank in an attempt to save lives.

Volunteers with precious mother’s milk at the Magen David Adom National Human Milk Bank / Courtesy Magen David Adom
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For nearly two weeks, the baby has been fed human milk from the National Milk Bank, donated by several mothers for the purpose of nourishing premature babies. Prior to being distributed, the milk underwent all the required testing and processing by the MDA National Human Milk Bank, and has being kept at a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius. After being fed with the human milk along with the dedicated treatment from the team at Carmel Medical Center, the infant’s condition has significantly approved.

Liraz and Gal Carmeli, the baby’s parents, thanked Carmel Medical Center, Magen David Adom and the milk donors, saying: “Only thanks to the donors, our baby can eat and digest food. We hope our personal story will open a door for more babies to receive milk from the Human Milk Bank, which is so crucial.”

Refrigerated mother’s milk at the Magen David Adom National Human Milk Bank / Courtesy Magen David Adom

“The baby was in a life-threatening condition because he was fed with a formula  which he was unable  to digest,” explained  Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari, who heads the Magen David Adom’s National Human Milk Bank. “The nursing team, by following world-wide medical recommendations, understood that the baby should be provided with human milk. And indeed, after receiving the approval from the Ministry of Health and supplying the milk, there was a remarkable improvement in his condition.”

Dr. Ayala Gover, Deputy Director of Carmel Medical Center, added: “When we realized that the baby’s condition was seriously deteriorating as he was unable to digest the formula or be breastfed by his mother, it was clear to us that he needed safe human milk. With the help of the National Human Milk Bank of MDA, Dr. Sharon Bransburg-Zabari and the Director of the Mother and Child Health Department of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Dina Zimmerman, we received a generous donation of safe human milk, and to our immense joy, his condition has improved significantly and he is eating and gaining weight.”

Director of the NICU at Carmel Medical Center Prof. Avi Rothschild, said: “This is the first milk donation supplied by the National Human Bank directly to an infant in need. There was a breakthrough in the ‘glass ceiling’ on human milk donation in Israel. This is due to a combination of Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari’s good will, removal of administrative barriers by Dr. Zimmerman along with a neonatal intensive care unit willing to do whatever needed for the well-being of premature babies.”

MDA Deputy Director General- Blood Services Prof. Eilat Shinar said: “The National Human Milk Bank was established by MDA almost two years ago, at the request of the Ministry of Health. This is to regulate the supply of milk to premature babies in Israel, to prevent the development of intestinal necrosis, which can cause severe morbidity and even mortality. At the Milk Human Bank, set up at the Magen David Adom station in Jerusalem, with the assistance of the MDA Friends Society in Australia (NSW) and other donations, hundreds of ready-made bottles of milk are ready for premature infants. We are currently waiting to finalize the various agreements that will allow us to start fully operating the bank, to save the lives of premature babies, and preventing serious life long illness.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin said: “Magen David Adom, as Israel’s national emergency medical and blood services organization, works to save lives in a variety of ways. In this case, even before it was opened, the Magen David Adom National Human Milk Bank provided safe and optimal human milk, donated by mothers who have been through a special approval process. We were excited to hear about the significant improvement in the baby’s condition, and we hope we can continue to save the lives of more babies as soon as possible.”

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