Why Donate Your Birth Tissue?
During pregnancy, the placenta and umbilical cord form play a vital role in nourishing, protecting, and growing your baby. Once your baby is born happy and healthy, it might seem like the job of these tissues is over. However, these tissues have some very special properties. Rather than be discarded as medical waste after delivery, through a donation these tissues can go on to help heal and even save the lives of others.
Because of the myriad treatments these tissues can help bolster, just one donation of birth tissue can go on to touch several lives. What better way to celebrate the gift of your baby’s birth than to pay forward the gift of healing onto others?
During pregnancy, the placenta plays a vital role in filtering blood and nutrients to your baby, protecting against infection, in addition to producing important hormones like lactogen, oestrogen, and progesterone. The innermost membrane of the placenta is called the amnion, which lines the amniotic cavity during pregnancy. In addition to helping protect your baby in utero, the amnion also has incredible healing properties.
When a placenta is donated, the amnion is removed in a sterile environment, and can then be used for a variety of medical treatments. Amnion can help stimulate the healing of soft-tissue injuries, including wound care, burn treatment, and sports injuries. It can also be used to help individuals heal after eye and dental surgery, and much more.
Often, soft-tissue injuries are treated with donor grafts or tissue obtained from another place on the individual’s body. However, with amnion, this step is eliminated—the individual is able to heal their own tissue, which removes the risk of graft rejection, and reduces the risk of infection that can come from tissue harvesting elsewhere on the body.
Umbilical Cord and Cord Blood
The umbilical cord connects your baby to the placenta, and it’s the way your baby receives oxygen, nutrients, and how waste products like carbon dioxide are carried away.
The umbilical cord also contains a special fluid, more commonly known as cord blood, that is rich in stem cells. These stem cells can be used to treat dozens of diseases, including lymphoma, leukemia, and other cancers. Not only are stem cells easy to collect but cord blood contains ten times the amount of stem cells collected from a bone marrow transplant, without any of the risk or inconvenience of bone marrow collection.
Are there any risks to myself or my baby by donating?
No, birth tissue is collected only after a healthy delivery, it does not interfere at all with you or your baby’s health or safety. These tissues will be delivered along with your baby, so there is also no additional inconvenience to you or your baby.
Is donation against my religious beliefs?
Since birth tissue donation poses no risk to mother or baby and provides such far-reaching benefits, many religions openly support and encourage its donation with the parents’ consent. If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your spiritual leader about your faith’s position on birth tissue donation.
Are there any extra steps to take?
If you decide to donate, you will first need to let your doctor know. You will also need to fill out a health history questionnaire and additional blood tests will be performed prior to your delivery. This ensures that all of the tissues are healthy and will provide maximum benefits to others down the road.
Birth tissue can typically be donated after both vaginal and cesarean deliveries, but it’s good to check with your doctor on your hospital’s rules.
Interested in donating?
Talk to your OBGYN, midwife, or doula about your interest in donating your birth tissue. They will tell you more about the donation options in your area and help you get all set!