After struggling with Type 2 diabetes for many years, Ruben Palomo, 73, eventually needed an amputation in 2019.
Surgeons had to remove some of Rubens’ toes on one foot, a common occurrence for diabetics, since they can have reduced blood flow and nerve damage to extremities.
But almost a year after his surgery, Ruben’s nickel-sized wound still had not healed on its own, his daughter Arizbe said.
Ruben used special wound bandages and other coverings that his doctors recommended for all those months, but none worked.
Around that time, Ruben’s doctors suggested one treatment they had not tried yet — using a birth tissue patch made from donated placenta to cover the wound. After doctors applied the patch, Ruben’s foot was healing within weeks, Arizbe said.
“They had already tried all these things and it wasn’t working,” she said. “My dad’s a living testimony that birth tissue does work.”
Her dad’s story represents Arizbe’s experience because she works as a medical assistant in a labor and delivery department in Edinburg.
South Texas Blood & Tissue works with hospital partners to make it possible for mothers to donate their baby’s birth tissue, including the placenta and the umbilical cord, after healthy cesarean section deliveries. The tissue is discarded as medical waste unless donated.
Along with diabetic ulcers, birth tissue may be used to help treat burns and traumatic injuries, in addition to developing new therapies.
In 2021, 145,000 tissue grafts were performed in Texas alone, according to the Donate Life Texas registry for organ, eye and tissue donors.
When talking to parents in labor and delivery, Arizbe said she often tells them about her dad to illustrate how much birth tissue donations can help people.
“I go in there and I tell them, you know my dad was a recipient of placenta and it worked, and then some of them do change their mind,” Arizbe said. “You’re helping somebody else by donating.”
Donation of the umbilical cord or other birth tissue is free and a painless process for both mother and child. Learn more about how your newborn can save lives and the process to donate by visiting SouthTexasBlood.org/BirthTissue.