I was privileged to be able to attend the opening of the fifteenth milk bank in the UK. The creation of the milk bank at the Countess of Chester Hospital was due to the enthusiasm and hard work of Lynda Coulter. Lynda had worked tirelessly to gain the support of her hospital management for this venture and also to raise money to buy equipment for the milk bank. The cost of the equipment was met by donations from Companies and fundraising events. The opening ceremony was attended by over 50 people with her Grace the Duchess of Westminster carrying out the official opening.
Dr Sue Balmer
Former Chair of UKAMB
Lynda Coulter was the prime mover of the HMB initiative and following lengthy discussions with her Paediatric Consultants and Countess of Chester Hospital Management she was given the go ahead to proceed on the understanding that the entire project would have to be financed by charitable donations.
After raising over £50,000, the Cheshire and North Wales Human Milk Bank was officially opened in June 2003 by Her Grace the Duchess of Westminster. The actor Ricky Tomlinson secured the future of the milk bank in 2008 with a magnificent £200,000 donation. Ricky is one of the patrons of our charity.
Lynda has travelled throughout the Northwest recruiting milk donors and speaking to health professionals about the benefits and use of donor milk.
A number of notable events have occured for the milk bank:
Lynda won the National Nurse Midwife of the Year Award at the Dept of Health's 2006 Health and Social Care Awards and was also Runner Up at the BLISS Baby Charter Neonatal Awards in the Neonatal Nurse Lifetime Award category.
As a trustee of UKAMB, Lynda organised the 10th Anniversary International Conference in 2007 here in Chester.
In 2009, Lynda was awarded the MBE in recognition of her wonderful work at the milk bank.
Lynda was a member of NICE committee who produced the guidelines published in February 2010 for "Donor Breast Milk Banks: the operation of donor breast milk bank services."
Donor milk banking is the collection, screening, processing, storing and distribution of human milk from volunteer breastfeeding mothers.The concept of donor milk banking became popular during the last hundred years as physicians interested in the survival of vulnerable infants and children looked for the optimum nutrition. The first milk bank of modern times was established in Vienna in 1909 closely followed by Boston, USA in 1911. It is on record that donor mothers at this time were physically examined for disease. By the 1920s and 30s more milk banks were founded across the world including the UK. In 1943, the American Academy of Pediatrics published the first guidelines for milk banking operations. By the 1970s, Neonatology became a medical speciality in its own right and smaller premature infants began to survive at increasingly earlier gestation. In the UK donor milk became an integral part of feeding these infants and numerous donor milk banks existed across the UK.
In the early 1980s, the number of donor milk banks drastically decreased worldwide due to the fears around the transmission of infections, in particular HIV. Additionally, specific formulas were being developed to meet the needs of premature infants and the use of donor human milk became less popular.
Today there is improved understanding of the benefits of human milk especially for premature babies. Donor milk is now dispensed to premature babies with medical and nutritional needs and occasionally older infants and children with nutritional and/or immunological problems. The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB) is the national body which supports milk banking through the publication of guidelines endorsed by the Dept of Health and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. These Guidelines equip milk bank personnel with the necessary information to ensure safe recruitment of donors and appropriate standards for screening milk.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated in 1980 that:
"Where it is not possible for the biological mother to breastfeed, the first alternative, if available, should be the use of human milk from other sources. Human milk banks should be available in appropriate situations."