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Donated Placental Grafts Provide Healing to Nurse/Recipient

Like all nurses, Kristen Saddler spends a lot of time on her feet. Which is why, when she developed a pressure ulcer on one of them, it affected not only her life but also her work.

Kristen, an RN and charge nurse in Labor and Delivery at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, has Type II diabetes and peripheral neuropathy—a series of disorders that result from damage to the body’s peripheral nervous system. So, even a small callous on her foot can lead to a pressure ulcer, wreaking havoc with her physical health.

Recently, when she accidentally wore the wrong socks during a 12-hour work shift, she developed a foot sore, which led to a painful infection and trouble walking. She eventually was hospitalized and endured two surgeries. However, thanks to receiving several grafts created from placental donation, she’s on the path to healing; able to live and work without intense foot pain.

Up to 25 healing grafts can be created from one donated placenta. The grafts are used for a wide range of procedures involving eye, oral and spine surgery, and for the treatment of difficult-to-heal wounds such as burns, venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and pressure ulcers, like Kristen’s.

By the time treatment is complete, Kristen will have received 10 graft transplants. One of the many benefits of these healing grafts is that there’s no downtime for recovery. The procedures are done in a physician’s office where a graft is placed on the wound and dressing is applied. Afterward, Kristen can go about her day, except she must be careful not to get the wound and dressing wet.

With a good prognosis that things are healing well, Kristen says, “I’m just honored to be able to receive the grafts. They’ll help speed up the healing process so I can get back to normal.”

As a placental graft recipient and an L&D nurse, Kristen has had the unique opportunity to experience both sides of this type of donation. “From a big burn wound to a simple, tiny pressure ulcer, your (placenta) donation can be life altering and lifesaving for the recipient,” Kristen says. “Someone’s selfless act of donation has changed my life.”

In 2019, Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital became the first hospital to partner with Lifeline of Ohio to make placenta donation a reality. As of July 1, 2023, the hospital has had more than 170 donations which has created approximately 4,250 healing grafts!

Lifeline of Ohio’s Placenta Donation Program has seen incredible growth through partnerships with 22 hospitals and approximately 90 OB/GYN offices throughout Central and Southeast Ohio and Wood and Hancock counties in West Virginia.

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