Adena Health Focus October 15, 2020

Adena’s first Placenta Donation Program patient gives birth

Adena joins Lifeline of Ohio effort to convert placental material into grafts to speed healing of burns, wounds

Simply put, Makala Baisden likes helping people. 

The 23-year-old Jackson resident was registered as an organ donor even before receiving her driver’s license, and some of the experiences she’s had since then have only reinforced her belief in the importance of organ donation programs.

“I’ve had multiple people (I’ve known) that have had malfunctions with their organs and just bodily issues,” Baisden said. “I have grown up with people who have needed skin grafts because of severe burns. If you can help out, if there’s something you can donate in any way, shape or form, you might as well do it. You don’t know who could use it.”

Baisden, then, was the perfect choice to become Adena Health System’s first patient in its latest partnership with Lifeline of Ohio – the relatively new Placenta Donation Program. On Oct. 5, she gave birth, not only to a son to join her four-year-old daughter in the family, but also to a new way for the Health System’s patients to help others.

Adena becomes just the 11thhospital in the state to join Lifeline of Ohio’s Placenta Donation Program. At its very core, the program allows expectant mothers with scheduled Caesarian section deliveries to donate the placenta, umbilical cord and amniotic membrane from the birth to Lifeline of Ohio. The organization then can arrange for the material to be processed into an allograft that can be used to aid in the healing of acute and chronic wounds and other maladies.

Normally, the placenta material is just discarded following a birth. Instead, through the donor program, the grafts created from the material can aid in treatment of burns, skin cancer, scar revisions, venous ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers and vascular ulcers, among other conditions, according to Lifeline of Ohio.

Because of their ongoing organ and tissue donation relationship, Lifeline of Ohio reached out to Adena to see if the Health System was interested in participating in the placenta program. According to Jamie Arledge, nurse manager, education regarding the program was made available to OB/GYN providers, labor and delivery staff and OB/GYN surgery schedulers once the decision was made to go forward with it so a smooth process could be put in place.

“The provider educates the patient on the placenta program itself to see if they would be interested in the placenta donation and, if so, then we make the referral to Lifeline of Ohio, who reaches out to the patient and determines if they meet criteria for donation,” Arledge said. “If they do, the Lifeline rep comes here on site that day to collect and do everything they need to do.”

Baisden said that after receiving the initial paperwork on the program, her interest was piqued, but she needed to research a little more before committing. Her desire to help others, coupled with the wide range of applications for the grafts created from the placental material, proved to be the tipping point.

“I think a lot of people should get involved with it because, one, it’s beneficial for multiple people, and two, it’s not like you’re using (the placenta) afterward,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”

According to Lifeline of Ohio, there is no cost to the patient to take part in the donation program and participation does not affect the medical care afforded to mother and baby or the birthing experience. Participation is open to any expectant mother 18 and older without any disqualifying medical conditions who has a Caesarean section delivery scheduled. 

The mother will sign a consent form, complete a donor risk assessment interview and respond to a medical history questionnaire several days before the scheduled birth. Bone Bank Allografts, the processor used by Lifeline of Ohio to produce the grafts, said that in addition to the pre-screening qualification process, testing for infectious disease is conducted according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

A Lifeline of Ohio coordinator meets briefly with the mother the day of the delivery to double check her identification and answer any lingering questions. The coordinator also will ask an RN to complete a blood draw for the infectious disease testing, which Arledge said is done at the same time as the normal blood draw for Adena’s labs.

Once the placenta is available, it is placed in a sterile basin to be passed off to the Lifeline of Ohio coordinator for packaging and transport. If the provider finds a need to send the placenta to the lab for pathology, that decision would override the donation.

The placenta is then sent by Lifeline of Ohio to Bone Bank Allografts for analysis and creation of the grafts. A single placenta can produce anywhere from 15 to 50 grafts, with the average number coming in around 25.

Lifeline of Ohio says the placenta-derived allograft tissue has a natural biologic role in enhancing natural wound healing by achieving fast-tissue epithelialization -- encouraging epithelial cells to migrate upward to more speedily repair a wounded area. This can help decrease the length of hospital stays and clinic visits for those with ongoing wound treatment.

Arledge said Baisden is the only Adena patient lined up for placental donation at the moment, but she expects others to take part as awareness of the program grows.

“I think when you think about Lifeline of Ohio and what they do for those with needs of organ donation or transplants – the miracles that their program offers – I think it’s amazing that we can offer something (like this),” she said. “This placenta sustained life for her infant, and now she can give – maybe not necessarily the gift of life, but continue a good function with that placenta that otherwise is just done when it’s done its work. Now we can extend it and offer healing for someone else.”

While participating mothers are not paid for their donation – the National Organ Transplant Act having made the buying and selling of organs illegal – they do receive a thank you gift bag from Lifeline and some follow up correspondence from the organization. 

More importantly for donors like Baisden, however, they receive the satisfaction of knowing that by giving of themselves – quite literally, in fact – they are improving the quality of life for others.