Placenta Donation Program 'Replicates the Circle of Life'

New moms at South Shore Health are making the biggest difference for patients all over the United States. 

South Shore Hospital, part of South Shore Health, recently became the first hospital in Massachusetts to participate in a Placenta Donation Program through a leading biopharmaceutical company which is developing regenerative medicine and biologic therapies utilizing human placenta tissue to help patients in wound care, surgery, and sports medicine get their lives back on track. 

Since its inception, the Placenta Donation Program has received over 116 placentas from mothers who delivered their babies at South Shore Hospital. "The response has been overwhelming as we have received many more donations than we ever expected to attain this early in the program,” said Luke Poppish, Executive Director of Maternal/Newborn Health at South Shore Hospital. 

Dr. Gary Gibbons, Medical Director of the Wound Care team at South Shore Hospital, is to thank for bringing the Placenta Donation Program on board after seeing the benefits that grafts, which are created with donated placenta tissue and cells, have had on his patients. 

Just one placenta donation can create up to 50 grafts to help heal wounds of the most serious nature using stem cells that would otherwise become medical waste. This program replicates the circle of life.

“The generosity of parents donating their baby’s placenta has gone on to heal many patients with chronic stalled wounds and returned their function and quality of life.” 

Currently, the option to donate is only available to mothers who are planning a caesarian section birth. Obstetricians are able to identify suitable candidates, and perform the simple, safe, and painless removal of the placenta just as they would in any cesarean procedure.  A program representative is present at the birth to safely collect the placenta and transport it to a lab in a sterile environment. Donating is free of charge and all donations are thoroughly screened to ensure that safe and effective grafts are provided to patients in need. 

The placenta donations provided by families will reach farther than they might realize. Poppish explained the magnitude of the program, saying that “collectively, our new families have given enough tissue to create over 5,800 grafts to help other families in our community and around the country.”

Mothers who are planning to give birth at South Shore Hospital and interested in donating their placenta can talk to their OB/GYN or midwife about whether or not they qualify for this program.