Saturday, February 16, 2008

Breast milk used to treat cancer patients


BEN TORRES Beatriz Hernandez, a pasteurization assistant at Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas, fills bottles with breast milk to be later pasteruized.
Also Online
Shelly Slater reports
Taking a breath isn't taken for granted in the Bauer house.
"I was dying. I was literally dying, and I knew it," said Dr. Donn Bauer.
Bauer had a cancerous tumor in his right vocal chord, severe enough to cut off his airway. Surgeons removed it, leaving him with a hole in his neck to talk and breathe.
"So I was bent on getting better. No matter what," he said, wiping his eyes.
But he didn't get better.
Bauer lost 35 pounds in one week, and his diabetes made recovery almost impossible. Then he discovered a new remedy: a mother's breast milk.
"It's just a boost of energy, and it's not like drinking an energy drink or a couple cups of quick coffee, but a slow process of feeling good," he said.
"It's gold. It is incredible liquid," said Amy Vickers with the Mother's Milk Bank of Fort Worth.
The immune-building properties of breast milk can't be copied by formula.
Because of that, the Mother's Milk Bank in Fort Worth struggles to keep up.
In the past three years, the demand has multiplied 300 times.
"I'd be beating a path there, and banging on their door, camping out," said Bauer.
But the milk bank can't help Bauer right now because its supply is too low.
That's due, in part, to Texas' growing teen pregnancy rate.
The government says about one in every 1,000 13-year-olds in Texas is getting pregnant. Of those, about 70 percent of don't get proper prenatal care which leads to more premature births.
Adian was born eight weeks premature and weighed only two pounds.
He and other preemies are the milk bank's priority patients.
"I don't think he would have made it this far if he wasn't on donor milk," said mother, Beatriz Hernandez.
Hernandez couldn't make enough milk for Adian. His body rejected formula.
"I'm very happy for everybody who has a heart to [donate breast milk]," she said.
Right now, Bauer can't get breast milk. Instead, he takes pills in an attempt to duplicate the benefits of the real thing.
Dr. June Meymand runs a cancer center and says breast milk protects her patients' healthy cells, while killing the cancer at same time.
"What actually causes the damage to the body will be carried out through the intestine and will not become active," she said.
It worked for Bauer. He's now cancer-free.
"If I end up going I end up going, but I came into this world screaming and fighting and that's exactly how I'm going out," Bauer said.
He believes his miracle is thanks to a mother's milk.

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