I learned and participated in something that I had never heard of until the birth of our daughter last month. I work as a doula and have participated in the birth world for several years, so was quite surprised I never heard of placental donation. I assume that if I haven’t heard of it, there are others out there that are also unaware.
The placenta is the only organ that is grown for a specific use and is released when its job is over. The placenta develops in the uterus and is the fetus’ lifeline, providing nutrients, antibodies, and oxygen to the baby, and removes waste from the baby’s blood.
Many women save their placenta, dehydrate and use as a postpartum supplement. From my research, it can have wonderful benefits. This is not something I have personal experience with, although I have been intrigued. Other women may save their placenta and bury it in a ceremony. There is a definite reverence for this organ.
Since I delivered my children via c-section, I have let all of my placentas go as medical waste. Which is commonly how placentas are discarded. This time was different, and I was given the option of placenta donation. From my research, a donation is only an option if the mother is giving birth via a full-term planned c-section. During vaginal birth, the placenta is exposed to bacteria and the tissue can be damaged.
The mother must pass the required blood tests, so she must be free of certain medical conditions or infectious diseases. A mother of any age can donate as well, and it does not interfere with cord-blood banking. The company that my hospital uses for donation uses the placenta for eye grafts. Up to 100 eye grafts can be done from one placenta. That is giving the gift of sight to a lot of people!
The amnion, or amniotic membrane, is the innermost layer of the placenta, and the portion that is used for donation. It has been used since the early 1900’s in many surgical procedures. Human amniotic membrane has properties very similar to other soft tissues and can be used for many reconstructive surgical procedures such as burns and other wounds, dental procedures, eye surgeries and for joint issues. In surgery, the amniotic membrane can be used as a foundation material for soft tissue healing, or as a natural biological barrier at the surgical site. The other cool thing about it is that the amnion tissue type does not have to be directly matched with the potential recipient, so it benefits a large population of people.
A quick google search will offer many options for placenta donation. My hospital used Regenerative Biologics, Inc., which seems to service Florida. Many of the websites have forms and contact information so that if you have an interest, you can learn more.