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First placenta donation at MMH could help 25 patients

Photo by Michael Kelly Kristen Casto cradles her one-day-old child, Arlo Casto, in a room at Marietta Memorial Hospital on Tuesday afternoon. Casto was the hospital's first patient to participate in the Lifeline of Ohio placenta donation program.

Arlo Casto’s mom will have a story to tell him one day.

Kristen Casto, 30, was the first patient at Marietta Memorial Hospital to donate a placenta to the Lifeline of Ohio program. She gave birth to Arlo through a scheduled C-section on Monday.

Placental tissue, along with amniotic membrane, has been found to be uniquely suitable for skin grafting – treating ulcers, burns and other wounds. Lifeline established a placenta donation program last year in Columbus area hospitals and recently reached out to the Marietta hospital to recruit participants. The process of harvesting graft material from placental tissue has been in place for a decade.

“Lifeline approached us about six months ago,” said Memorial’s critical care services director Teresa Adams. “Placental tissue is very vascular, healthy, and it can be used for skin grafts. It promotes healing, lessens scarring and decreases pain for the patient.”

Casto said donating a placenta wasn’t a hard decision to make.

“There’s really no downside, it was very easy on my end,” she said.

Placental tissue is ordinarily sent to the hospital lab after birth to check for any irregularities, such as infection, and then discarded. Dr. Brad Nitzsche, Casto’s OB-GYN, said the lab normally finds nothing to report.

“Typically, it’s sent to pathology, and we can still do that if we’re concerned about something, but the vast majority of them come back normal,” he said.

Adams said the donation process is simple, with a Lifeline representative picking up the tissue from the surgical suite and then transporting it to Columbus.

“It doesn’t even need cooling, and they take care of all the logistics,” she said.

Adams said each placenta has enough donor cells on average to help 25 patients. With the occurrence of diabetes increasing continually, treatment of diabetic skin ulcers is in high demand, she said. Placental tissue is far superior to other forms of skin grafting.

“For diabetic and pressure ulcers, it has the potential to reduce scarring, pain and infection,” she said.

Out of Memorial’s annual births, about 11 percent are candidates for placental donations, Adams said, which would mean about 80 patients a year. To donate, the mothers must give birth through a scheduled C-section.

Casto, who lives in Parkersburg, said she worked in the surgical area at Memorial at one time.

“Knowing it will help other people, when you see someone in pain who’s not getting better, how could you not do this,” she said. “I’ll tell Arlo about this when he’s older, absolutely.”

Michael Kelly can be reached at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

Placental tissue:

• Can be donated by any mother who gives birth with a scheduled C-section.

• Used for skin grafts to treat acute and chronic wounds.

• Facilitates healing faster than other methods of treatment.

Source: Lifeline of Ohio.

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