UCT students develop an app to make milk banking easier for moms who want to donate

Every year, donated breast milk saves the lives of thousands of vulnerable babies in South Africa.

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Moms, did you know that you can save a baby’s life by donating your extra breast milk? This is particularly important for prem babies who are vulnerable to fatal complications if they’re not fed breast milk.

There are several milk banks in South Africa who will accept donor breast milk and ensure it’s properly distributed to babies in hospital who really need it.

Students from the University of Cape Town are now hoping to make the process a whole lot easier with a new app they’ve developed for Milk Matters, a non-profit human milk bank based in Cape Town.

Since its inception in 2003, thousands of babies at 28 different hospitals across the Western Cape have benefited from donations from this lifeline

According to a report, the initiative was prompted by Dr Melissa Densmore, a senior lecturer in the UCT Centre of Information and Communications Technologies for Development. While breastfeeding her own baby, she decided to donate her excess breast milk to help save other babies in need.

ALSO SEE: Everything you need to know about banking your breast milk

Inspired by her experience with Milk Matters, she subsequently supervised 5 students to undertake research on how to make the whole process easier for Milk Matters so that more moms would be encouraged to help babies in their community.

Chelsea-Joy Wardle and Mitchell Green were the first of her students to focus on designing an app for Milk Matters to facilitate donations and communication. Chelsea-Joy built on their research for her Masters degree, with input from donors from the community.

The result is a convenient app which provides donor mothers with a tool to:

  • Find out more about how Milk Matters works as a human milk bank
  • Find out how to go about becoming a donor
  • Measure whether they meet the requirements to be a donor
  • Find details of depots

The app is now being upgraded by three other honours students – Gerhard Serton, Dino Bossi and Gustavo Amicis M de Souza Mendes – for both Android and iOS users. It will also provide registered users with updates on news and events, educational material, and list the exact locations of depots.

They’re hoping to complete the upgrades by the end of this month so they can start evaluating it with donors who have been involved in the research.

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