LifeLink Tissue Bank, based in Tampa, Fla., in partnership with Tampa General Hospital (TGH), is excited to announce the launch of our Birth Tissue Donation Program, the first of its kind in the Tampa Bay area.
Birth tissue donation is the voluntary donation by expectant mothers of placental and umbilical cord tissue donated after the delivery of a living newborn, which can be used in wound healing and in other various medical procedures to restore structure and function.
The placental birth tissue donation gives expectant mothers and their babies the opportunity to celebrate the new addition to their family, while also becoming living donors to help patients in need of healing medical care delivered through birth tissue allografts.
“Birth tissue has unique properties that stimulate the body’s own healing and serves as a biological covering in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, burns, ocular damage and difficult-to-heal wounds,” said Dr. Sally Alrabaa, associate professor, co-director of Transplant Infectious Disease at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, and LifeLink Tissue Bank Medical Director. Over 100 allografts can be derived from one birth tissue donation which can impact and enhance the lives of many patients.
On April 6, 2022, which also happened to be National Living Donor Day, Amelia Nichols and her newborn son, Wylder, became the first LifeLink-facilitated birth tissue donors at Tampa General Hospital. While the fact that it was National Living Donor Day was coincidental, it was very appropriate, and Amelia was excited that it all aligned.
Amelia first learned about the LifeLink Birth Tissue Donation Program through her husband, who works at LifeLink Tissue Bank as a Birth Tissue Technician, but her inspiration to become a birth tissue donor was ultimately the memory of her brother, who had become a tissue donor through LifeLink after his passing in 1998. “I have been connected to LifeLink for a long time through my brother, my husband and now I’m a living donor,” shared Amelia. “Why wouldn’t I participate and donate my birth tissue to this amazing program and help other people?”
Birth tissue that can be donated includes the placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid, which are typically discarded after birth. Tiffany Fain, LifeLink Birth Tissue Coordinator, shared, “LifeLink and Tampa General Hospital have a long-standing relationship in terms of organ and tissue donor recovery services and transplantation, and have recently expanded this partnership to provide expectant mothers with the opportunity to donate their placental tissue to help patients in need.” Tiffany noted that there are no risks associated with donating birth tissue, which takes place after the safe delivery of a newborn, and there is no cost burden for the new mom and their family. “LifeLink processes the donated tissue into transplantable allografts, which provide life-enhancing gifts to thousands of patients each year,” said Tiffany.
Birth tissue is recovered after a cesarean section delivery. Mothers who are expecting can learn more about the process by visiting the LifeLink website, where they can also register to donate their birth tissue by filling out an interest form. A LifeLink Birth Tissue Coordinator will contact the expectant mother prior to the baby’s birth to perform a medical and social interview which includes questions much like those asked when you donate blood. The LifeLink Coordinator will also obtain consent for donation and be able to answer any questions.
Amelia hopes to inspire others to make the same decision she did to become a birth tissue donor. “Another reason I wanted to participate is because I want people to know about LifeLink. Donation touches a lot of lives. I’m excited for more people to learn about this program. I think so many families and women are going to want to participate because it can help so many people,” Amelia said. To learn more about birth tissue donation or register to be a birth tissue donor, visit the LifeLink website or speak directly with a LifeLink Birth Tissue Coordinator at 1-877-264-5241.