In early 2021, Tracy gave birth to her first child, Alyssa Marie. Alyssa Marie required immediate surgery and afterwards could only be given breastmilk. However, due to the trauma of the situation, Tracy was unable to produce sufficient breastmilk. Tragically, Alyssa Marie died a few days later, and then Tracy experienced the opposite problem: her milk supply was now established and she was keen to donate milk, but there existed no streamlined system whereby she could do so.
This is a common situation, particularly in low-income countries such as Uganda. Breastmilk provides the best nutrition for babies as well as containing antibodies which protect against infection and providing other long-term health benefits. For generations, women have informally shared breast milk, either through the traditional ‘wet nursing’ method and more recently through expressing and donating milk. However, the safest approach is where donor mothers can be recruited, tested for pathogens that can be transmitted through breastmilk, and where donor milk can be pasteurised and safely stored.
The Alyssa Marie Foundation through the ATTA Breastmilk Foundation seeks to establish a safe, state-of-the art yet community–based system for breastmilk donation in Uganda.