Boobs (and hearts) big enough to feed a continent

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Work Life, Nutrition: Health, In The News

"I used to joke that I had enough breast milk to feed a continent," says Jill Youse, 29. "I had a ton of it and I didn't know what to do." Her daughter Estella was born last July and she found herself with an overabundance of the valuable stuff. Searching online, she found the iThemba Lethu Orphanage in Durban, South Africa. The orphanage had established a breast milk bank in 2001.

The orphanage cares for children with HIV whose mothers succumbed to AIDS. There are three million children five and under orphaned due to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. iThemba Lethu relies on donated breastmilk to avoid passing HIV in breastmilk and to help boost the children's immune systems. Youse started by donating her own breastmilk and kept an online journal of her experiences. Other mothers became interested, too. So, she started the International Breast Milk Project.

The first shipment consisted of 23 gallons of tested and pasteurized frozen breastmilk. The third shipment, almost 23 gallons again, arrived in Durban on Thanksgiving Day. Penny Reimers, a registered nurse who runs the milk bank there, says every time she feeds one of the orphans, "It's like watching a little miracle unfolding. Within days we start to see a difference."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.