Breast milk saves 'miracle baby'
BORN with a rare bone disease, Yvonne Maketa had only a slim chance of a successful full-term pregnancy.
She was determined to have a child, so Maketa, who is in a wheelchair, went ahead with her plan.
She gave birth by caesarean section to a baby boy, Kgotso, on April 29. He weighed just over 1kg.
Little Kgotso was diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis , a killer disease common in premature infants. And his mother had contracted pneumonia and could not breast-feed her newborn.
Maketa was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit at Garden City Hospital, in Mayfair West, Joburg.
Thanks to donated breast milk - a natural antibiotic - and a team of dedicated hospital staff, the 28-year-old mother and son are now out of danger and doing well.
Kgotso was discharged this week, weighing a healthy 2kg and free of the necrotising enterocolitis.
"The fact that we are both alive is a miracle.
"Having seen how breast milk made a difference in my son's life, I would definitely consider donating it," said Maketa.
Maketa, from Springs, in Ekurhuleni, has osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disorder that results in bones breaking easily.
Her underdeveloped chest cavity made it extremely difficult for her to carry a baby to full term.
"Most doctors would have told this woman to abort, but she was determined to have the baby," said Ross Allman, a lactation consultant in the postnatal ward at the hospital.
"We did all we could to make the experience better for her. It was a unique case.
"She fought really hard through this difficult pregnancy. It was sad for us to see them leave because we all grew attached to them."
While Maketa was fighting for her life after the birth, Kgotso was put on milk formula.
It was then that he developed necrotising enterocolitis, in which tissue in parts of the bowel inexplicably dies .
After consulting the baby's paediatrician, Allman called for help from the South African Breastmilk Reserve, a non-profit organisation that supplies donated breast milk to infants who do not have access to their mother's milk.
"They brought three bottles of donated breast milk from the breast milk bank. That very same afternoon Kgotso was put on breast milk and within hours his condition improved. He started growing like a little champion. We had a team of doctors and nurses who worked overtime to make sure that both mom and baby survived," said Allman.
Stasha Jordan, the managing director of the milk bank, said necrotising enterocolitis was the number one cause of death of premature babies in South Africa and that Kgotso was a "miracle baby".
Jordan said 1 295 infants were fed by her organisation last year.
"Tembisa Hospital was able to reduce the mortality rate of premature infants with a birth-weight of below 2kg born in the hospital by 19% [because of donated breast milk]," she said.
Jordan and Allman are establishing a Breastmilk Reserve corner at Garden City Hospital where women can donate breast milk for babies at the hospital and elsewhere.
"It's like donating blood. We will be the collection point for healthy women who have excess milk. The milk is pasteurised and passed on to the Breastmilk Reserve, who will distribute it," said Allman.
The collection point will be operational by the end of next week.