Maple Grove Hospital Program Allows Mothers to Give the Gift of Healing to Others
Ashley Kittelson of Scandia, Minnesota, had never given much thought to what would be done with her placenta after she gave birth to her third child, a son named Soren. “I just assumed it would be disposed of and that would be it,” she says. “That’s what had happened after the births of my other two children.” However, while going over details for her planned cesarean section (C-section) this summer, she learned about a new program at Maple Grove Hospital that allows women having planned C-sections to donate their placentas to help others. “I was immediately intrigued by the idea of being able to make a difference, and not just for one person, but a lot of people,” says Kittelson.
Turns out the organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby, and removes waste products from a baby’s blood, has a myriad of uses after the baby is born. Among them, wound healing, replacing damaged tissue during eye surgeries, reducing scar tissue formation and inflammation caused by sports injuries, and even treating gum disease. Just one placenta donation can create up to 50 grafts to help heal serious wounds using stem cells that would otherwise become medical waste. Maple Grove Hospital is the first hospital in Minnesota to partner with a leading biopharmaceutical company to offer a Placenta Donation Program. It is aimed at women having planned C-sections. Since its inception in Spring 2018, the Placenta Donation Program has received 124 placentas from mothers who delivered their babies at Maple Grove Hospital.
Tanya Thomas, a perinatal nurse navigator, credits one of the hospital’s recent customers with bringing the innovation to Maple Grove Hospital. She explains that a woman already planning to give birth at Maple Grove Hospital had done the research and asked for permission to allow her placenta to be donated after her scheduled C-section.
“She was excited to help others by donating her placenta and encouraged Maple Grove Hospital to consider partnering with this organization so more woman could have the same opportunity. After completing our assessment of the program, we agreed,” says Thomas. “As more and more families choose Maple Grove Hospital for their family birth experience, it is essential that we offer a range of birth options and services. We are committed to delivering exceptional customer service and are happy we were able to not only support the initial request but also make the service available to future customers.”
Mothers typically learn about the program at their prenatal clinics and decide ahead of time if they want to donate. When a woman has an emergency C-section, she may have the option to participate in the program, as well. Only women who give birth by C-section are eligible to donate their placentas, however Maple Grove Hospital hopes to expand the program to vaginal deliveries in the future.
The process of collecting the placenta after a C-section is entirely painless for the mother. To ensure the tissue remains sterile, a representative from the Placenta Donation Program is present at the birth to collect the specimen. “Once I made the decision to donate, there was nothing else I had to do. Maple Grove Hospital and the donation organization took care of everything so I could focus on my new baby,” says Kittelson.
There is no cost to participate in the program, and no compensation is offered to moms who choose to donate their placentas. Any expectant mother with a planned C-section delivery can donate, as long as there are no disqualifying medical conditions, such as viruses and certain infections. All moms who choose to participate will be subject to a blood test that screens for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis, HTLV and CMV.
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