Updated 27 October 2015

Why you should donate breast milk

The South African Breast Milk Reserve encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months and to donate breastmilk to the SABR banks. It not only helps others, it can protect them against cancer.

According to the World Health Organisation ( there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year.

What can help reduce the incidence?

Stasha Jordan, breastfeeding activist and executive director of the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) says: “Not many people know that breastfeeding decreases a woman’s chance of contracting breast cancer especially if they breastfeed for longer than a year.

Maintaining good breast health is not only about protecting your own life – it also means you will be able to provide the optimal diet of breastmilk to your own babies and even save other babies’ lives.”

SABR encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months and to donate breastmilk to the SABR banks located across the country. Donated breastmilk is pasteurised and fed through a tube to premature babies in neonatal intensive care units who are not strong enough to suckle from their mothers who in turn struggle to supply their own breastmilk.

Health24 asked SABR a few questions:

Q: How do breastmilk banks work?

A: Breastmilk is collected from healthy donors who undergo screaming. Microbiology is conducted to assess the bio-burden of the mother prior to pasteurisation and post pasteurisation. The breastmilk is stored frozen for a period of 3 months for preterm infants and 6 months for full term or other medical cases.

Q:Who can donate?

A: Healthy lactating women who do not smoke, drink alcohol or take habit-forming drugs may donate. Some medications are acceptable and assessments are made on an individual basis. 

Q: How often can women donate?

A: It depends on the volumes produced by the mother. There are no maximums or minimums.

Q: Are they paid or compensated in any way?

A: No, it's a donation under the Human Tissue Act. 

Q: Can you give us a list of where the breastmilk banks are situated?

A: Please visit SABR to find out where the breastmilk banks in each province are located.

Q: Are there any breastmilk scams out there?

A: We are not aware of any scams. 

To get involved, the public is urged to contact SABR at or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail:


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