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Dakota Lions Sight & Health Partners with Avera to Offer South Dakota’s first Birth Tissue Donation Program

May 20, 2021 12:00PM ● By Med Magazine

Dakota Lions Sight & Health (DLSH), the only eye and tissue donation organization based in the Dakotas, has partnered with Avera to bring the first birth tissue donation program to South Dakota. 

Birth tissues, which include the placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid, have special properties that help to grow and develop a baby during pregnancy and are normally discarded after birth. The tissues also contain natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties in recipients when processed and properly transplanted by a physician. 

“Among other things, this tissue is being used to treat skin cancer, severe burns, corneal ulcers, and hard-to-heal wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers,” says Marcy Dimond, DLSH CEO. “Birth tissue is a type of living donation that does not impact the health of you or your baby, but has the potential to provide a tremendous gift that helps heal the lives of others.

Under this new program, any woman scheduled for a planned C-section can elect to donate her birth tissue at no cost, provided she meets the necessary medical criteria established by medical standards. Dakota Lions Sight & Health works with the birth center and dispatches a technician to collect the donated tissue after the C-section is complete. The donation does not interfere with the birth or medical care and is completely safe for the mother and baby. 

“When this idea was first brought to us a few years ago, we encountered a few challenges because it is so different from what we normally do,” says Dimond. “But when we saw how high the demand was, and learned that one placenta and umbilical cord could help 20 to 40 people, we realized that it is very much in line with our core mission of restoring sight and health. Instead of discarding the tissues, we want people to recognize that it is a truly valuable gift that could potentially go on to help many others.”

Birth tissue collected by DLSH is processed by a tissue processing organization into usable medical allografts. The result is a collagen matrix that can be sized according to physician specifications. The grafts are then delivered to healthcare professionals. According to Dimond, some of the tissue will be stored at Dakota Lions Sight & Health to allow for the expedient transport to area physicians to use it in treating local patients. 

As part of the new initiative, DLSH has created educational materials that healthcare professionals can share with expectant mothers. More information is also located at www.dakotasight.org