New mum Rikki's amnion donation helping transform lives

Women and their newborn babies are improving the lives of strangers by agreeing to donate their amniotic membrane following childbirth, as part of an innovative new program.

New mum, Rikki Storey, gave birth to baby boy, Rio, in December 2020 and is amazed she was given the chance to help others through amnion donation.

A unique living donation program, women having an elective caesarean section can agree to donate their placental tissues including the amnion, which would otherwise be discarded.

“We thought, well, we’re not doing anything with the placenta so we would be more than happy to donate it and help someone in need. It was so simple and easy, you just sign a form and off it goes!” Ms Storey said.

“It’s an incredible thought to know that Rio has already made a difference to so many people without even knowing it.”

Established by the NSW Organ & Tissue Donation Service, the amnion donation program launched in late 2018 and is the first in NSW, and currently the only one of its kind in Australia.

Dr Constantinos Petsoglou, Ophthalmologist, Cornea Specialist and Associate Director for the NSW Tissue Bank, explains that the amniotic membrane is turned into a tissue graft and used as an open wound dressing, known as a biological bandage.

“Extensive scientific research shows that the amniotic membrane can have unique healing properties, and is an effective treatment option for serious wounds, eye injuries and burns as well as other topical applications,” Mr Petsoglou said.

“Depending on the size of the amnion, up to thirty patients can be helped from just one donor.”

The donated amnion is carefully processed and assessed to ensure it is suitable for transplant, and is stored in custom freezers at the NSW Tissue Bank’s amnion lab, located at the Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital.

Donated amnion from the program is being distributed nation-wide and the grafts have thus far been used by eye surgeons all over Australia.

The donor program is currently only available to patients at the Mater Hospital North Sydney, with plans in place to roll-out the program to other hospitals in NSW.

Baby Rio