May 19 it is World Breastmilk Donation Day; a global celebration of the importance of milk banks.

The staff on the neonatal unit at St George’s refer to human breast milk as “liquid gold” and “medicine”.  Containing a complete spectrum of nutrients and immune-system compounds not present in formula milk, it helps the babies’ development and protects them against life-threatening infections.

However, a mother’s ability to produce enough milk can be impacted by the stresses of having a very sick baby, or by being ill themselves after their baby’s birth, and this is where the amazing donors to the St George’s Milk Bank come in, providing life-saving milk for these vulnerable babies until their mums can take over.

St George’s helped mum Maria Mano give birth to her baby, Pedro, when she went into labour prematurely.

Maria said: “Our baby boy was born two months early and I wasn’t able to get enough milk to cover all his feeds so he received donated milk.

“It allowed him to build strength and relieved me from some pressure. It was important to me that he got all the benefits of breast milk even if it wasn’t mine.

“Thank you to all the mums that donated milk, you are sharing love and saving lives.”

First Touch, the charity of St George’s neonatal unit is passionate about enabling the babies to receive breast milk. The charity has recently raised £25,000 to provide the Milk Bank with a brand-new pasteuriser and has refurbished the unit’s expressing rooms and equipped the unit with 20 new breast pumps to help mums express their milk for their poorly babies.