Breast Milk Helps Save Lives In Africa
Oct. 6 (KGO) -- A Bay Area mother has joined other women in helping children in Africa who've lost their own mothers to the deadly disease AIDS. They're helping feed some of the world's most vulnerable children in a way only mothers can.
Michelle Larson has plenty of breast milk to feed her son Allister. In fact, she produces a lot more than he's able to drink. So Larson donates any extra breast milk to the National Milk Bank.
Michelle Larson: "Wherever it goes, it's going to be needed."
This is one place in desperate need of breast milk -- the Ithemba Lathu Orphanage in South Africa. The babies and small children here have lost their parents to AIDS. There are about three million children in sub-Saharan Africa, age five and younger, whose mothers have died of AIDS. They are orphans and also HIV positive.
Larson knows her donated breast milk can make a difference in the children's well-being.
Michelle Larson: "The few things I know about it -- breast milk gives babies with AIDS, or without, a better chance of survival, a much better life."
The milk the orphanage receives comes from white South African women who have a lower incidence of HIV and from America.
In Columbia, Missouri, Jill Youse formed the International Breast Milk Project. She and her friends collect extra frozen breast milk and DHL ships it to the orphanage free of charge.
When they arrive at the orphanage, the babies are sick and malnourished. They thrive on the breast milk and quickly recover.
Jill Youse, International Breast Milk Project: "Breast milk can be the difference between life and death."
Youse's organization is now collecting frozen breast milk from all over the U.S.
Jill Youse: "It seems like just something that should be done. I know not everyone thinks this way, but I've got more than I need of something -- someone else can use it. That's why it should be done."
Before the frozen breast milk gets to Africa, it's tested and processed at Prolacta Bioscience headquartered in Monrovia, California.
If you would like to learn more about how to donate breast milk to those in need locally, please click on:
To help donate to babies in need in South Africa, please click on:
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