How does the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank work?

As the only Breastmilk Bank in Victoria, the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank provides vulnerable infants with access to safe, screened and Pasteurised Donor Milk (PDM).

The benefits of breastmilk

Breastmilk provides all the nutrients a growing infant needs and, because of its protective effects, is universally regarded as a key aspect of infant survival. Access to breastmilk, which is both immunologically and nutritionally rich, is especially important for vulnerable newborn babies, such as those born preterm. Hence the World Health Organisation (WHO)(1) recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

The World Health Organisation, American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP)(2) and the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN)(3) Committee on Nutrition have recommended Pasteurised Donor Milk as the best alternative in situations where a mother’s own milk is unavailable.

Medical research has also demonstrated that providing very preterm babies with Pasteurised Donor Milk, instead of manufactured formula, reduces the risk of some complications associated with feeding.

The Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank collects, processes and stores human milk that is donated by healthy breastfeeding mothers who are producing milk in excess of their infant’s needs and have undergone specific health and lifestyle screening.

History and purpose

Following extensive research and planning, the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank was established in 2011. The Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank collects, processes and stores human milk that is donated by healthy breastfeeding mothers producing milk in excess of their baby’s needs. The Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank distributes Pasteurised Donor Milk to sick and/or premature infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Care Nursery at Mercy Hospital for Women.

We want to make Pasteurised Donor Milk available to more vulnerable babies in Victoria who don’t have access to their mother’s own milk.

In 2017, the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank reached agreement with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority to establish satellite sites at Monash Children’s Hospital/Monash Medical Centre – Clayton, The Royal Women’s Hospital and The Royal Children’s Hospital. As of the 3rd June 2019, Monash Children’s Hospital/Monash Medical Centre – Clayton became an established Satellite Site. The Royal Children’s Hospital satellite site will commence in the second half of the 2019 year, and planning is well underway for The Royal Women’s Hospital  so more vulnerable babies in Victoria will be receiving Pasteurised Donor Milk.

Acknowledgements

Mercy Hospitals Victoria Limited appreciates the support and guidance provided by Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) and Department of Health and Human Services Victoria (DHHS) in establishing, managing and expanding the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank.

The Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank complies with the Human Tissue Act 1982 (no. 044, 2014)(4), the Food Act 1984 (no. 105, 2017)(5) and the Blood Donation Statement items from the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (no. 031, 2017)(6). Additional recommendations by the DHHS are complied with and any changes to current practices are negotiated with the department.

The Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank is part of the Mercy Hospital for Women and keeps all personal information strictly in accordance with law.

Contacts

Express your interest in becoming a breastmilk donor

Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank

  • Phone numbers:

    Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank
    03 8458 4477
    We are available Monday to Friday, 8am–4pm.

  • Email address: milkbank@mercy.com.au
  • About:

    Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a breastmilk donor.
    If we are unable to answer the phone, please leave a voicemail with your contact details, or send us an email and we will respond within 24 hours.

Last reviewed August 14, 2019.

How to donate milk for the Breastmilk Bank

Thank you for considering donating your breastmilk to the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank. This is a chance for you to be part of our mission to help vulnerable, premature and/or sick babies in Victoria.

How to donate milk for the Breastmilk Bank

How to provide financial support for the Breastmilk Bank

The Mercy Health Foundation, with the generosity of philanthropic donors, supported the establishment of the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank.

How to provide financial support for the Breastmilk Bank

If your baby is receiving Pasteurised Donor Milk

Pasteurised Donor Milk is available for babies born before 32 weeks gestation whose birth weight is below 1500 grams and/or are sick and who are receiving care in the Mercy Hospital for Women, Monash Children's Hospital, The Royal Women's Hospital or The Royal Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or Special Care Nursery.

If your baby is receiving Pasteurised Donor Milk