Open Accessibility Menu

Independence Health System Family Additions Maternity Center Participating in Placenta Donation Program

Independence Health System Family Additions Maternity Center Participating in Placenta Donation Program

          GREENSBURG, PA, June 26, 2023 … The birth of a baby brings joy to the parents who have eagerly awaited the arrival.  That birth is also anticipated by people who likely will never meet the family but who will benefit from their decision to participate in a unique donation opportunity.  Starting in July, new mothers at the Family Additions Maternity Center at Westmoreland Hospital, part of Independence Health System, will be able to make an impact on patients all over the nation through the hospital’s new partnership with TriForLife Birth Tissue Recovery Group which facilitates placenta donations. Birth tissue donation is a type of living donation and does not impact the health of the mother or the newborn and is recognized as the single largest driver of the overall growth in living tissue donations by the American Association of Tissue Banks.

            The program gives expectant mothers the option of donating their placenta, umbilical cord and amniotic membranes once collected as part of both caesarian section and vaginal delivery.  Details about the opportunity and its benefit to others will be shared with pregnant women during prenatal visits with their Independence Health System obstetrician. Women who decide to participate will sign a pre-consent form which will be validated at the time of baby’s delivery.  The program is optional and at no cost to the woman.

          Often regarded as medical waste, birth tissue can be processed and used to stimulate healing in a variety of reconstructive procedures, including the healing of chronic wounds and burns, spinal procedures and corneal eye repair, according to TriForLife.  Beyond these uses, birth tissue supports the development of new treatments for such diseases as cancer through scientific research.

           The benefits of birth tissue to fetal development are widely known. “Birth tissue helps to nourish the baby in utero throughout the mother’s pregnancy and is typically discarded after the child's birth,” explained obstetrician Randi Turkewitz, MD, FACOG, speaking on behalf of her colleagues within the OB/GYN practice at Westmoreland Hospital who deliver more than 1,100 babies annually. “The placenta, commonly referred to as the afterbirth, is a disc of tissue that connects a mother's uterus to the umbilical cord, and delivers nutrients, oxygen and protective antibodies to the unborn baby.  This donation program gives mothers the opportunity to share these life-giving tissues with others once they have served their purpose in baby’s development in the womb.”

           Wendy Reynolds, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, NE-BC, Clinical Director of Westmoreland’s Family Additions Maternity Center, noted that new mothers have already been participating in a breast milk donation program through the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank, another life-sustaining project.  “We believe the birth tissue donation program is one more way healthy mothers and babies can support the health and well-being of others.”

          As part of the TriForLife program at Westmoreland Hospital, a Birth Tissue Recovery Technician will provide donation information, answer questions, document the process, preserve the tissue and arrange for the hospital to draw a sample of the donor’s blood. The blood sample is tested to ensure that there are no communicable disease agents present in the birth mother’s blood that could be transmitted to a recipient of the tissue. That information will be shared with the medical staff for followup as appropriate.  In all instances the mother is thanked for her willingness to participate in the program. Annually, TriForLife also will make a financial gift to the Westmoreland Hospital Foundation to support the maternal-child experience as a way to recognize the significance of the tissue donation program.

According to TriForLife president Russell “Rusty” Adams, virtually every branch of medicine can benefit from birth tissue, and researchers continue to discover new uses. “The miraculous properties in birth tissue can promote the body’s own healing process, reduce the amount of pain and suffering a patient may experience, speed patient recovery, and offer fewer negative side effects, such as swelling and scarring.  In this way, life gives life to others.”

          As an example, Adams noted that four ophthalmology centers in the Greensburg and Pittsburgh area receive product processed by TriForLife to benefit patients receiving eye care.

          To learn more about women’s health services at Independence Health System, visit


Nationally recognized for quality care, Independence Health System comprises Butler Memorial, Clarion, Frick, Latrobe and Westmoreland Hospitals with a combined bed count of 925.  With more than 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers and 7,300 employees, the System is now the third largest in western Pennsylvania serving a population base of 750,000 in a footprint spanning more than 10 counties.

The System includes tertiary programs that are rated among America’s best for cardiac care and surgery by Healthgrades in its Top 100 and Top 50 designations, and one of only five in Pennsylvania to achieve a five-star rating in cardiac surgery. In similar fashion, the prestigious Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) bestowed its top three-star rating. Historically, less than 10 percent of programs within the STS data base achieve this elite standing. The hospitals of Independence Health System also have earned a host of accolades from such prestigious outlets and sources as US News and World Report, Newsweek Magazine, the American College of Radiology, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Surgeons, the Joint Commission, Leapfrog and the American Heart/Stroke Association. 

Locally owned and locally controlled, Independence Health System offers its patients low-cost, high-quality care across the care spectrum in such specialties as cardiology, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, women’s health and obstetrics, emergency medicine, behavioral health and primary care. Its network of outpatient centers sees more than 1.2 million visits annually. The homecare division further supports patients at all stages of life with home health and hospice services. 

Independence Health System continues to change the healthcare landscape in western Pennsylvania by meeting patient needs through superb physician expertise, outstanding nursing, the latest in technology and programmatic depth. 

Download PDF