Local mothers urge support for Human Milk Bank

FERMANAGH mothers whose little ones were “given the very best start in life” by the Human Milk Bank at the SWAH have urged donor mothers to continue to support the life-saving service.

Run by the Western Trust, the Human Milk Bank based at SWAH is the only service of its kind on the island of Ireland and provides breast milk to neonatal units right across the country. Helping very sick and premature babies during their first difficult days of life, the Milk Bank is reliant on donor mums to help keep it stocked.

The Milk Bank has issued an urgent appeal for more donor mums, to allow it to continue to help babies in 2023. Local families whose babies have benefited from the service have added their voices to this appeal.


“We are indebted to our donor mums who have continued to provide essential donor breast milk for babies in neonatal and surgical units in hospitals throughout Ireland,” said Human Milk Bank coordinator Liz Bailie.

“The Human Milk Bank staff are working very hard to ensure this vital service remains available to all our vulnerable premature and surgical babies, particularly at the start of a New Year. We know as from previous years this can be a time when neonatal units require additional stocks of donor expressed breast milk.”

Ms Bailie noted the Milk Bank had received 1,140 litre of donor breast milk in 2022, which had been supplied to 1,004 premature babies.

This helped the little babies by building their immune system, organ development, and preventing disease.

The Milk Bank is also supported by voluntary ‘Blood Bikers’ – the Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes and the CRS Voluntary Bikers – who transport the precious breast milk to hospitals across Ireland.

It’s not just babies elsewhere the Milk Bank supports, and it is also supported by local mums. Below two local mothers whose little ones were supported by and who benefited from the life saving service share their stories.

Sherrilea Gilbride, mother of Isla


“My baby daughter Isla received donor human breast milk for the first week of her life whilst she was in the neonatal unit at the South West Acute Hospital in 2021. I am so grateful to the donor mums who have kindly donated their precious breast milk to help Isla when she was born and required support in the neonatal unit.

“Knowing that Isla was getting the very best start in her very young life gave me the peace of mind to focus on bonding with my daughter and allowed me the time to establish my own breastmilk. I was able to successfully breastfeed Isla and I cannot thank the staff at the Human Milk Bank enough for what they do in – it is a lifesaving service. Isla is thriving and is a happy, healthy 15 -month-old and keeping me very busy!”

Clare Sizeland, mother of Ruairi

“I was made aware of the Human Milk Bank service through my health visitor when I was expecting my second child. I was given information on the service and so when my son Ruairi was born I contacted the Milk Bank and went through their screening process to see if I would be suitable to donate my breast milk.

“I am delighted to be able to provide the gift of life for sick and premature babies it really is the most precious gift and I would appeal to expectant mums to find out more about how they can become a donor.”

If you would like to find out more about the Human Milk Bank and becoming a donor please contact the Human Milk Bank on 028 68628333 or by emailing:

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