Express delivery: mothers rally to donate vital breastmilk

by Liz Thomas

Whisked out of her Hong Kong home by medics in protective gear, Catherine Kosasih didn’t know if or when she would see her children — aged just four months and 21 months — again.

Once in hospital, her COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed, she was kept in isolation and her husband and children quarantined. Worse still, they discovered that because her youngest was allergic to formula, there was no way to feed her.

“I left the house suddenly and I didn’t know how long I would be in the hospital. I had so many worries but one of the biggest ones was for the baby, who is breastfed, especially after she had such a bad reaction to formula that my husband was close to calling an ambulance,” explains the 33-year-old.

After doctors told Kosasih to dump her pumped milk because the medication she was taking to treat the virus could be passed to her baby, she contacted Gemma MacFarlane founder of Hong Kong Breastfeeding, a social media support group.

MacFarlane posted an SOS call for donations online.

Within hours, scores of mothers had come together to offer what they could, and within a day more than 15 litres — enough to feed the baby for around two weeks — had been pledged.

“I was in tears, I still can’t believe so many mums pumped milk for my baby,” says Kosasih, who suffered fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and had white spots on her lungs.

She spent two weeks in hospital battling the virus that has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide since it was first identified in China in December. (AFP)