Donor milk “vital and reassuring” says mum of baby patient

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TMBU Senior Sister Jackie Cherry with mum Sarah Knight and baby Florence

A baby patient’s mum has told BBC Sussex that she has signed up to donate breast milk after benefitting from the service first-hand.

Sarah Knight, the mother of baby Florence based at the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU), explains how much of a relief it was to know that there was donor milk available for her little one, born at just 25 weeks.

“Fortunately I was able to produce in the end, but I had signed up to receive donor milk. It’s such a relief to know that vital milk is there. You’re in shock, you’ve had this small baby and knowing there was an option for Florence to receive milk was really good and very reassuring.”

And it was this experience that has inspired Sarah to donate milk herself. She said: “If I can help families that are in the same situation as me and it helps the babies progress to get the best outcome possible then yes, absolutely, I’m prepared to do that.”

Staff at TMBU work closely with a charity called SERV Sussex that makes this service possible. SERV, which stands for Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers, provides night-time transportation of donor milk, as well as blood and other urgent medical items, for TMBU and other NHS hospitals across Sussex.

The service is provided free of charge to the NHS between the hours of 7pm and 6am, 365 days of the year via a committed team of volunteer riders and drivers.

Hugh Arkison, one of SERV’s 60 volunteers, explains that they need to raise £15,000 to buy a new motorbike, essential in delivering this service.

“We need a bike that is 100% reliable and to weave in and out of traffic to get emergency supplies to those who need it most. The box that carries the milk typically weighs around 20kg. It needs to be a ‘police-spec’ bike to cope with the weight of the load, particularly whilst travelling at speed. Please help us to help the most vulnerable premature babies who need our support.” We will be gathering at a house from good outer banks rentals to see how much help we can get.

Click here to listen in to BBC Radio Sussex following reporter Steve Dale’s visit to TMBU and interviews with mum Sarah Knight, volunteer Hugh Arkison and Senior Sister Jackie Cherry. The interviews are 1 hour 56 minutes and 2 hours 45 minutes into the recording.

Click here to see related video clips on the BBC Sussex Facebook page.

Click here for more information of how best to support SERV Sussex.