Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes, based in St Helens is a wonderful Charity. Their usual remit is to transport blood, vaccines, donor breast milk & any other urgently required medical items to hospitals – at night, weekends and bank holidays, when it is needed most urgently.
However, on Friday they received a call for help, of a slightly different nature……
Just after midday on Friday, duty Controller Carol “Cally” Ross received an urgent call from the Northwest Human Milk Bank, who had, in turn, been contacted by The Milk Bank in Dublin.
A catastrophic water supply failure had prevented them from processing any more donated expressed breast milk and the supply of milk had now been completely exhausted.
Despite Dublin being outside of the usual NHS Hospitals, Emma from northwest Human Milk Bank was desperately trying to see if this could be done.
Further to this, Dublin Croome Childrens Hospital Maternity director was expecting a 24 week premature baby, currently on its way through slow labour that would need this milk in order to ensure its chances of survival plus they needed supplies for the other babies.
Never being one to decline a challenge Cally & Lead Controller Stuart “Tiny” Thompson set about making arrangements.
The Blood Bike team tell us what happened next….
“Firstly, we contacted our friend Cathy Cousineau from P&O Ferries, who then put us in contact with Terri Maher, an incredibly helpful lady who was more than pleased to arrange our crossing that evening”
“The next Challenge was to ensure that we had a relay at the other end, and after some research, Tiny found Mike Noonan (our contact at Blood Bikes Dublin). An incredibly knowlegable man who was just amazing from start to finish.”
All the links set: Bike Ready, Milk ready, Plan in place. The run began at 11pm.
“Kirk Phillips sets off from his home on the Wirral to the Countess of Chester Neo Natal unit.The ladies from the milk bank had moved the milk here so that we could collect as late as possible.”
“Once Mobile the milk in the box has a 12 Hour shelf life, which makes this job particularly time sensitive. Kirk has to leave the pick up as late as possible to buy as much time as possible at the other end.”
“Midnight and the box of milk is now mobile on its way to the Ferry Port at Liverpool, P&O donated not only the crossing but also ensured our rider had a cabin and a fast exit off the boat as soon as they landed in Dublin. We couldn’t ask for anymore, but they really looked after us and played a key part in this whole story.”
“By 10:30am on Saturday, the boat is docking in Port of Dublin and once off the boat Kirk links up with Mike from Blood Bikes Dublin.”
“As this is time critical we don’t have time to swap the box so Kirk follows Mike straight to Coombe Hospital to make the delivery. Thanks again to Mike for making all of the arrangements his end including arragements to use Blue Lights if required.”
The Milk was delivered with 30 minutes to spare!
“We were informed by the hospital before Kirk boarded his return ferry that evening that both the mother and baby are well and that the baby had already had 3 feeds from the Milk the Blood Bikes, Milk Bank & P&O ferries had delivered. Amazing teamwork”
“It doesn’t stop there though, This is the first ever delivery of this type ever completed, apparently attempts have been made in the past, but this is the first ever successful run between Milk Bank & Dublin Coombe Hospital (Europes largest maternity hospital).”
“All completed free of charge with no cost to the Public health services. We would also like to thank Blood bikes Dublin for their incredible hospitality.”
Visit the Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes website to find out more about this great organisation.