No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

Human milk donation network to help save babies in critical conditions

In critical condition, neonatal babies including those baby-victims of disaster and emergencies admitted at the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) would soon have a satisfying volume of human milk as DRMC has expanded its network of mother-donors.

DRMC Chief Dr. Bryan O. Dalid inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA), July 17, with local chief executives of Davao del Norte to bring in the support of community mothers for the Center’s Human Milk Donation Program. The DRMC once started the program just within the hospital.

Those who personally responded to the call of DRMC for LGU-level involvement of this program and made it to the MOA signing ceremony were municipal mayors Silvano Gaje of San Isidro, Eufracio Dayaday Jr. of Asuncion, Jorjan  Federiso of New Corella, Ma. Theresa Timbol of Kapalong, and Roland Dejesica of Sto Tomas,  Braulio E. Dujali mayor Leah Marie Moral-Romano sent her representative to the MOA signing ceremony.

DRMC has an existing agreement with LGU Tagum for donation of mother’s milk.  DRMC welcomes other local chief executives to enter into the MOA.

Davao Regional Medical Center inks a memorandum of agreement (MOA), July 17, with local chief executives of Davao del Norte to bring in the support of community mothers for the Center’s Human Milk Donation Program

“We started the donation program within the hospital. The supply was not enough due to the increasing number of babies in our NICU, that's the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  We went out to Barangay Apokon (DRMC is based in Apokon, Tagum City) but still, it’s not sufficient,” Dr. Dalid told PIA XI referring to the initiative of DRMC to tap more donors of human milk for NICU babies.

In a separate interview, NICU Senior Staff Nurse Maria Kaye Bona Agang confirmed the resurgence in the number of babies needing intensive care, after the pandemic.The daily count of NICU babies during the pandemic used to be just 20 to 30. The daily statistics is now rising to a range of 50 to 60 a day.

Modaghan pa ni Ma’am, (It is expected to rise Ma’am),” Agang said, recalling the 80 to 90 daily count of babies admitted at the NICU before the pandemic period.

Babies admitted at the NICU are referred to as NICU babies. They are usually admitted at the NICU due to Anemia, Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), Persistent pulmonary hypertension, Pneumonia, Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), Heart defects and conditions, Gastroschisis, Hypoglycemia, Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH), Sepsis, Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), among other health problems found detrimental to new-born babies.

Taking into consideration to save the lives of babies at the NICU, DRMC has thought of expanding the network of collecting breastmilk donation “thru the establishment of referral linkage  with community health centers,” Dr. Dalid explained.

MOA commitments of parties

The MOA cites the mandatory requirement of milk-banking as stated in the Milk Code of the Philippines or the Executive Order No. 51 of 1986, in the Expanded Breast-feeding Promotion under the Republic Act 10028, and the Republic Act 11148 or The Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act.

Among the stipulated commitments of DRMC, as the MOA first party, is to ensure “the quality of the donated breast milk” and to do the thorough assessment of donated milk “as the safety of the NICU babies is of paramount importance.”

Mother Donors

Though mechanics of incentivizing mother donors have yet to be conceptualized, Elvie Hinayon is willing to share her breastmilk with other NICU babies because she physically and psychologically feels good the more she expresses her milk.

“Para daghang ang matabangan sa akong gatas.. Kay daghan ang mga bata diri nga walay Mama. Ang akong gatas sobra sobra,  pwede pa nila madede (So more babies would benefit from my milk. There are a number of babies here who have no mothers),”  she said in a separate interview at the breastfeeding area of the DRMC NICU.

Local chief executives of Davao del Norte express their support to the Human Milk

DRMC also commits to collect every Thursday the expressed breastmilk from LGUs through their respective barangay health stations.

Aside from preparing the donated breastmilk for collection by the DRMC, among other committed responsibilities of LGUs are to ensure the participation of all barangay health stations and to encourage community breastmilk donation.

On top of the support from the City/Municipal Mayors of Davao del Norte, Provincial Governor Edwin Jubahib through his representative, also assured DRMC of support for the Human Milk Donation Program.

On the other hand, Dr. Dalid admitted the need for a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) of donating human milk and availing such supply from the DRMC milk-bank for babies other than those admitted at the NICU of DRMC.

“There will come a time that possibly, if one has milk donor card, she can avail of milk from the milk bank,” he said referring to a similar process of availing blood from the blood bank.

He also looked at the future possibility of providing incentives to donors of human milk as an improvement of the current voluntary milk donation process of the program.

“Daghan ang mga baby ang nagkinahanglan jud ug gatas (More babies are indeed needing milk),” she said.

Prematurely born almost three weeks ago, Elvie’s baby is admitted at the NICU while she stays at the Kangaroo Mother Care facility located within the DRMC campus, so she can easily feed her baby every three hours.

Giving birth to her first child (a premature baby) a day before this interview, Rizzel Jean Abanilla waits at the NICU Breastfeeding room for the milk expressing time for her baby whom she  has not seen since birth. As she cannot personally feed the baby who is on oxygen, she is well aware that her baby is dependent on the pasteurized milk donated by other mothers.

Babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are closely monitored by nurses and doctors

“Maghatag para ikaw pud hatagaan (Give so that you will also be given),” she said biblically. “Gihatagan nila akong baby, mohatag pud ko aron modaghan akong gatas para sa akong baby. (They are giving my child their milk, I will also give so I would have more milk for my baby),” she added.

DRMC Health Education and Promotion Officer (HEPO) Agnes Catoera explained that the volume of breastmilk usually increases when more is expressed beyond what one own’s child can consume.

DOH and BHW support

Meanwhile, DOH XI Regional Director, Dr. Annabelle Yumang lauded DRMC for pioneering the Human Milk Donation Program for the survival and health of babies with adversely critical health conditions.

“We are happy that Davao Regional Medical Center has thought of this because, this time, we really need more human milk,” she said.

Anticipating the increase in volume of human milk to be collected from communities, DRMC has requested DOH XI units of equipment for human milk banking and pasteurizing.

Dr. Yumang gave Dr.  Dalid the assurance of DOH XI to work for the provision of the needed equipment while also encouraging  support from community stakeholders aside from the LCEs.

Mothers of babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are encouraged to donate milk for other NICU babies especially to those without mothers and those whose mothers cannot produce milk.

"We hope that at the local level mapadayon nato ni (we can sustain this) because this is not the work of only the Davao Regional Medical Center, the Department of Health but as a community, as a  whole of Davao del Norte, we have to work together  so that  this program, the Human Milk Donation Program, will succeed,” she said.

Meanwhile, Davao del Norte Barangay Health Workers Federation President Erlinda Ranes was sure of generating breastmilk donation from lactating mothers in her hometown, the Municipality of Carmen.

“Willing sila mohatag kay gina-estorya man namo sila. (They are willing to help based on our talks with them),” Ranes said.  

“Dili ingon naay daghang nanganak. Pipila lang, pero sa constant nga paghatag, matigum, modaghan na dako na nga ikatabang (It’s not that some are giving birth, only a few, but  thru constant donations, when collected, would increase in volume, this would then be of great help),” she added.

Having known the precarious conditions of NICU babies who, she said, usually recover fast through human milk consumption, Ranes called on fellow BHWs to  join hands and support the cause of raising more human milk to save babies in the intensive care units of DRMC.

“Giawhag nako ang tanang BHWs nga atong suportahan ning Human Milk Donation alang sa mga bata nga naa karon sa DRMC. Mas maayo nga makatabang; magkahiusa ta nga mo-suporta aning kawsa.  (I am calling on all BHWs to support the Human Milk Donation for babies in the DRMC. It’s good to help; let’s unite to support this cause),” she said. (JMDA/ PIA Davao del Norte)

About the Author

Jeanevive Abangan

Deputy Regional Head

Region 11

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch