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Gift of Life Michigan partners with St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor to offer placenta donation

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A new first for Gift of Life lets moms and babies give to help others heal

Alyssa Voss and her son, Coleton, gave a unique gift to others on the day he was born.Coleton Voss and his parents, the first placenta donor family in Michigan

The Voss family was the first to donate placenta through Gift of Life Michigan as part of a new program aimed at providing nutrient-rich tissue to help patients with serious medical needs.

Expectant mothers who will give birth with a planned Cesarean section at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital can take part in the unique program. St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor is the only hospital in the state offering placenta donation through Gift of Life Michigan, but the program likely will expand to other Michigan hospitals.

“We’re so excited to partner with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor so we can offer one more way to help patients heal,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life, the state’s organ and tissue donation program. “Historically, we have provided families with an opportunity to save and help others during a time of grief and loss. This incredible opportunity is creating a legacy of giving for moms and babies as they celebrate new life.”

“As a hospital, we always strive to be forward thinking when it comes to implementing programs that can really help people,” said Dr. Bryan Popp, Department Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “Expanding our current Gift of Life program to include placenta donation is a natural next step in our collaboration. We are thrilled to help families who are welcoming their newborns to now be able to make a difference in someone else’s life by donating their placenta.”

The baby’s umbilical cord and placenta – normally discarded after birth – can be donated. The child’s birth is in no way affected, and there is no risk to the mother or the baby. The placenta technically belongs to the baby, making him or her the donor.

 Coleton Voss, Michigan's first placenta donor, wearing his Gift of Life onesie to show he started life as a hero

Alyssa Voss said she and her husband, Josh, knew donating their baby’s placenta was the right thing to do when she gave birth to Coleton in August. “It was going to be thrown in the trash, so it seemed logical to use it to help other people. We’re excited to know that our baby boy is already a hero.”

Placenta is rich in nutrients, so it has unique healing properties. It’s most often used to heal traumatic wounds and diabetic ulcers – typically situations where there isn’t enough skin to close a wound. It’s also used to help people with eye injuries and diseases, dental and spinal procedures and sports injuries.


  • As the state’s only federally designated organ donor program, Gift of Life Michigan is the intermediary between donors, their families and hospital staff. Gift of Life, in collaboration with Eversight, provides all services necessary for organ, tissue and eye donation.
  • Nearly 3,000 patients in Michigan are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
  • Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, regardless of age or health history. To sign up, visit golm.org or call 866.500.5801.