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  1. Branka Golubić Ćepulić,
  2. Anita Pavičić Bošnjak,
  3. Ivana Leskovar,
  4. Jurjana Novoselac,
  5. Koraljka Gojčeta,
  6. Vladimira Rimac,
  7. Ines Bojanić,
  8. Sanja Mazić
  1. University Hospital Centre Zagreb, Department for Transfusion Medicine and Transplantation Biology, Croatian Tissue and Cell Bank, Human Milk Bank


Objective Foundation project for the first human milk banks (HMB) in Croatia was launched in 2017 as the result of a collaboration between the Ministry of Health, University Hospital Centre (UHC) Zagreb, UNICEF and the Croatian Association of Breastfeeding Support Groups. The HMB was opened in UHC Zagreb on November 15, 2019as a part of the Croatian Tissue and Cell Bank, a division of the Department of Transfusion Medicine and Transplantation Biology. The specific technical side is based on the PATH standards and Guide to the quality and safety of tissues and cells for human application, Council of Europe.

On January 10, 2020, HMB passed a Competent Authority (CA) inspection, conducted in accordance with the requirements of national tissue legislation that has been adapted to EU Directive 2004/23/EC on setting standards of quality and safety for the donation, procurement, testing, processing, preservation, storage and distribution of human tissues and cells. The specific technical part is based on the PATH standards and Guide to the quality and safety of tissues and cells for human application, Council of Europe.

The aim of this study was to review the very first experience in human milk banking in Croatia.

Methods We retrospectively analysed the data of the first 28 human milk donors.

Results From the opening to mid-February, 135 women showed interest in donating human milk, of which 28 became donors.

In February 2020, we had 24 still active donors. Four women stopped donating, with a median donation period of 2 months. All donors were tested for blood borne viruses by serology and NAT and were negative. In total, we received 79 L of donated human milk.We started pasteurizing the milk after obtaining a license. Of the 30 controlled pre-pasteurization milk pools, 10% was over the allowed microbial contamination. Microbiological controls were performed for each pasteurization cycle. They were all sterile. The nutritional values of milk were all within the expected range.

Conclusions Human milk is recognised as the optimal feeding for all newborn infants.

When mothers’ own milk is not available, donor human milk provided by HMB is the second-best choice, especially for premature or sick infants. The opening of the HMB in Croatia is highly important in helping to provide the best possible medical care for prematurely born babies and infants with a serious medical condition when they cannot receive their mother’s milk.

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