Breast milk delivery launched by Midland blood bikes
A charity motorbike breast milk delivery service has been launched to help premature babies.
Midland Freewheelers Emergency Rider Voluntary Service began transporting donated breast milk for babies at Birmingham Women's Hospital on Monday.
The milk is given to sick or premature babies when breast milk cannot be provided by their mother.
The service has about 25 volunteer bikers who transport blood and medical supplies free of charge to hospitals.
It is the first time the charity has delivered milk.
- The Birmingham Milk Bank was developed by Dr Mary Crosse at Sorrento Hospital, Moseley
- It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010
- Donor mothers give surplus milk, which is screened and pasteurised
- There are 17 human milk banks in the UK
Dr Gemma Holder, of Birmingham Women's Hospital, said illness, insufficient supply or separation from the baby could affect a mother's ability to supply breast milk.
Breast milk from a network of donors is used instead as it helps improve the immune system and fight off infections.
She said the milk was "vital to help save the lives of sick or premature babies".
Dr Holder added: "Now we're in partnership with the blood bike charity it means we are able to rely on a swift and constant delivery of the much-needed milk."
Ray Hart, of Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes, said: "It is vitally important that sick and premature babies get the best possible start in life; our service will enable us to deliver supplies of life-saving breast milk from mother to hospital quickly and efficiently."
He said the charity was appealing for more business sponsors to keep the service free of charge "to help the cash-strapped NHS save money".