Posts filed under ‘Hospital Issues’

Do not give birth at Sunrise Hospital

Sunrise Hospital is doing it again. They have denied a woman her placenta, and said they would not release it to her without a court order. This is exactly what they did to Anne Swanson, and the court ruled in her favor, forcing the hospital to release her baby’s placenta to her. Furthermore, the judge would not allow Sunrise to enter in their version of the proceedings, which held that the ruling only applied to Anne Swanson, approving one that was more general.

It seems to me that Sunrise Hospital is determined to impose more intimidation tactics against women. And in this case, they were successful. This latest woman did not want to deliver elsewhere, and she did not want to fight for her placenta. So it will be tossed in a bin with a bunch of other placentas, where it will decay until the bin is full (this is how placentas are handled at this hospital). Then the entire contents of the bin will be dumped into an incinerator together. Without honor, without dignity. It brought a new life into this world, yet it is dumped in the trash. What is the point in that? It is so frustrating to me, since I know it could have really helped this woman enjoy the first weeks with her new baby even more. Or at least just give it a little respect.

There are two other hospitals that would fall under this new corporate policy, if this is in fact their new policy; Southern Hills and Mountain View. One of the directors I had spoken to previously is out of town for the next week, and I have not been able to get the other on the phone. I will post an update here once I know of these other hospitals’ stance on releasing placentas.

October 25, 2007 at 9:18 pm Leave a comment

FDA Regulation

In April, Sunrise Hospital reported me to the Southern Nevada Health District the same day that they told Anne Swanson she could not have her baby’s placenta without a court order. SNHD, in turn, reported me to the FDA.

I had been on the phone with various departments within the FDA back in January, trying to find out what sort of regulation placenta encapsulation would fall under. I basically hit a brick wall, as I was passed from one department to another, then finally the person I was supposed to talk with next just never responded to my inquiries. I went down to the SNHD main office a short while later to speak with health officials there, and to get my Safe Food Handlers card required by anyone preparing food for others in Southern Nevada. I explained what I was doing, namely providing encapsulation services for women who did not want to prepare their own placenta. While they had their concerns, they were just not sure which department or agency would oversee my activities.

So I had already tried to get squared away with these agencies when Anne Swanson delivered her baby at Sunrise and started the firestorm of publicity and sudden interest in what exactly it was that I was doing with women’s placentas.

Since a state agency contacted the FDA, they were suddenly willing to speak with me about this. I spoke with a very nice woman who was apparently designated to be in charge of my case, and she said that since I am working with human tissue, that my activities would have to be regulated by the FDA. She was very interested in the research I had gathered, the history of encapsulation, and the fact that this is more common in countries other than the US. She asked to see my Standard Operating Procedures, which describe everything I do in explicit detail, as well as the scientific research. I was happy to comply with her request, and sent everything off to her in early July.

As of this writing, I have not heard back from them. Other than the quote in the USA Today article referencing my website, PlacentaBenefits.info: “Spokeswoman Kris Mejia says the FDA considers that some statements on the website are making medical claims and will be looking more carefully into the matter.” Interesting. I have tried to make the site as informational as possible, sharing the personal experiences of women who have taken the capsules. I am not sure how that constitutes medical claims, but then, I am not a lawyer nor a government entity. My only hope is that they will point out any issues they have and give me the chance to make changes before… doing whatever it is that they do.

Until I hear otherwise, I continue to provide my encapsulation services to interested women as a personal service in their home. It is something that has been done for women, by women, for generations. I am not the first, and I will most certainly not be the last.

August 29, 2007 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

Placenta Handoff

Anne Swanson emerged triumphantly from Sunrise Hospital on Wednesday afternoon with her baby’s placenta tucked safely away in a white styrofoam cooler prominently branded with bright orange biohazard stickers.

This case has been at the forefront of my mind for nearly four months, so it’s a little hard to believe that it’s all over. I am just thrilled that Anne had the tenacity to follow through with the court order, and ended up setting a positive precedent for other women to receive their healthy placentas from hospitals. I know this is only the first battle, but victory does taste sweet.

KTNV, Channel 13 was there to cover the story – I even have a brief interview.

August 3, 2007 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Anne gets her placenta!

— Update – Details —

We will be parking near the SE corner of Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn, then meeting near the doors of the Maternal Health unit of Sunrise Hospital. My phone is 702.947.0879 if you need it. I plan to arrive by 12:45.

See you there!

——–

On Wednesday August 1, Anne Swanson will go to Sunrise Hospital at 1pm to pick up her baby’s placenta. After 3 months and a court order, the hospital is finally doing the right thing by releasing the placenta to her.

Join us at the hospital to show them that we support every woman’s right to walk out of a hospital with her baby AND her placenta! We give birth to both, we should be able to take both home to care for them in an appropriate manner, according to our beliefs and values.

Thanks for standing up and fighting, Anne! You are a wonderful advocate for women’s rights.

July 30, 2007 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Current Hospital Positions on Placenta Release

I have spoken with Southern Hills Hospital, the sister hospital to Sunrise Hospital. After the situation with Anne’s placenta, we were told that Southern Hills would not be releasing any more placentas under any circumstances. I am pleased to announce that that is not true! I’ve spoken with the director of Labor & Delivery at the hospital who informed me that their policy has not changed. They will continue to release placentas to women “on a case-by-case basis”, and under the following basic conditions: release of liability forms are signed, the placenta is held for 3 days for any testing should it be necessary, and that the woman and placenta are both deemed healthy. All fair and reasonable caveats. Well done, Southern Hills!

I have also been in touch with a charge nurse at Spring Valley Hospital. She was wonderful. They have a similarly reasonable policy, which she helped to create. She was actually happy to speak with me, and even invited me to come to the hospital during their next monthly in-service meeting (June 28) to speak to the entire nursing staff about placenta encapsulation and its benefits! Spring Valley gets a major thumbs-up from the Placenta Lady.

Now for some discouraging news. One of my clients was seeing an OBGYN with privileges at Valley Hospital. This OB had said she would basically “look the other way” if my client wanted to take her placenta after the birth, but was clearly not supportive of her view, and didn’t want to even talk to her about it. My client was in her office for a prenatal visit and asked the doctor if she was aware of the situation at Sunrise. She said she was, and that “everyone in Labor & Delivery was laughing about it”. She said Sunrise was not happy about being in the (negative) media spotlight, but that she agreed with their view that the placenta is their property because it was a body part and a biohazard. That’s not so shocking, for someone in the medical field to have that view. However, her parting comment as she left the room stunned my client. Regarding the risk of releasing placentas from the hospitals, she actually said “What is it going to take? Someone taking an HIV+ placenta, grinding it up and spraying it on schoolchildren?”

Let’s absorb that one a minute.

It’s taken me two weeks to even attempt to wrap my head around it. That is just so twisted as to be incomprehensible to an intelligent, reasonable person. And this is a highly-educated woman and mother. She tends to women in labor, and helps them birth their children. And this is her view of what is born from a woman’s body? From her own body? If that is true, then no wonder the hospitals are taking such an extreme position. How can women trust a person like this with the most powerful, sacred and important transition in their life? When the person “in charge” of the process views the end result in such a disgusting manner?

Besides the fact that someone could even conceive such a disturbing thought, it is discouraging to me to have that concept applied to our viewpoint in any way, shape or form. If our views are at such polar extremes, then the possibility of changing the hearts and minds of some people to see the placenta as something wholesome and healthy for women is pretty remote.

However, I am not here to change the hearts and minds of everyone. If I can change ONE woman’s idea of her body, her creation, her birth energy and products, then I have been successful. If I can help ONE more woman enjoy her postpartum experience a bit more fully, then I have been successful. So I will continue to spread the word about the true power of placenta, in the hopes that someone out there will maybe even consider the thought of using her placenta, instead of letting it go to waste.

As to my client: she is now planning a home birth, after being absolutely amazed by the time, care and attention her midwife gave her. She said she has never had any doctor spend as much time listening to her concerns, or felt that they truly cared about HER. She is looking forward to giving birth to her baby (any day now!) on her terms, in her way, with a woman in attendance who understands and respects the power a birthing woman holds.

I could not be happier for her.

June 6, 2007 at 11:47 pm 1 comment

Back at it! Another story to share…

I am back to blogging in Las Vegas. I had a wonderful, relaxing time away, but it is back to business. A woman shared her own personal and painful story with me as a result of reading this blog, and I am sharing it with you now (with her permission).

Rebecca’s Story

“I was just writing to tell you how very much I appreciate what you are doing. I had an ectopic pregnancy removed, along with my right tube, after I hemorrhaged in the hospital. I gave no informed consent, was poorly treated, and then told I couldn’t have my baby’s remains. The hospital gave us no information. We finally went to the lab that my tissue had been sent to, without our consent, and they released what little they had left–only after a fight. I don’t know what right hospitals have to take parts of our bodies and then claim them as their own, but I do know I will never willingly enter a hospital like that again. The bottom line is this: a woman’s body is no longer her own once she enters a hospital, and many times the law supports any and all invasive techniques the hospitals wish to use, including the removal and disposal of our body parts and children’s remains. I, too, grieve about the treatment of women in the medical community, as if we are owned. If we aren’t owned by the medical community, at the very least our body parts and babies are. It’s so sad.”

Thank you, Rebecca, for speaking out. Until recently, I was not aware that hospitals were given such broad rights with regards to a woman’s body. I suspect that I am not the only one who has been in the dark. I’ve been accused of being an idealist, but I just assumed that what a woman creates inside her womb would, unquestionably, be hers.

I have never given birth inside a hospital, and I am feeling more and more blessed for that fact every day.

Speaking of hospitals, I’ve been in touch with several more in the Las Vegas area, with some positive results to report! I am gratified to learn that some hospitals here are more progressive than others. Please stay tuned for that update coming soon.

June 4, 2007 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Injunction filed, and fund set up

Anne Swanson, owner of Hypnobirthing Las Vegas, filed an injunction today to stop Sunrise Hospital from destroying her baby’s placenta against her wishes.

The mother who was rudely denied access to her baby’s placenta (yet promptly billed for the cost of delivering at North Vista Hospital) has decided not to file an injunction, as her placenta has also been ruined for encapsulation by careless staff. She explicity requested that the placenta be placed in the freezer until she was able to proceed with the court order as they demanded. When she called today to verify that they had indeed saved the placenta, she was told that it was still in the refrigerator. Since her baby will be a week old tomorrow, the placenta has now been rendered nearly useless, since the beneficial hormones she planned to utilize via the capsules dissipate over time. She cannot justify the fees to file an injunction to save it when she can not use it for its intended purpose anyway. She is holding open her option for a lawsuit in the future, and said she will definitely join our cause and add her name to the growing list of women fighting for change.

Anne would like to make sure that we proceed with her case in a way that will be best for women overall. Allowing Sunrise Hospital to destroy her baby’s placenta at this point would render all future legal action moot. Therefore, she needed to go ahead and file an injunction, effectively buying us more time to explore the legal options open to us.

The cost to file an injunction is nearly $200, even with a team of lawyers donating their time, efforts and energy for free. As a result, I have created a fund to help Anne with these legal costs. If we raise an excess of money beyond what is needed for Anne’s case, the remaining funds will be used to help offset legal fees for women who are forced down the same path as Anne in the future, and to fuel efforts for legislative relief from this issue.

If you would like to help our cause, please send your donation via PayPal to LegalizePlacenta -at- PlacentaBenefits -dot- info, or click on the Make a Donation button.

If you believe that a woman has a right to take home what she created and birthed, which sustained the life of her child in her womb, and which would naturally be born still attached to that child…

If you believe that it is wrong for a hospital to claim possession and complete ownership of a woman’s placenta once it is born and the umbilical cord severed…

If you believe that, then please get involved in this fight.

Spread awareness by emailing your friends a link to this blog, write letters to the editor at the Las Vegas Review-Journal or the Las Vegas Sun newspapers, write to our local legislators, write to hospital administrators, call media outlets to tell them you want to hear more about this situation, educate people as to the natural use of placenta starting at PlacentaBenefits.info – do whatever is within your power to do, but please do something. Outrage without action is useless.

If you are a pregnant woman in Nevada, call the Unit Manager (sometimes referred to as the House Supervisor) who is over the Labor & Delivery floor at your hospital of choice and notify them immediately of your desire to take your placenta home after its birth. If they say they will release it to you , get that in writing before you walk in to deliver your baby. If they say they need to hold it for a certain number of days, ask if they will place it in the freezer for the duration of the holding period, then get that in writing.

If they tell you they will not release your own baby’s placenta to you after the birth of your child, get that in writing, and then contact me. After you get their denial in writing, and you really do want to take your baby’s placenta home, tell them you will be going to another hospital that will respect your wishes. YOU PAY THEM for their services – you are a customer and deserve to have your wishes respected. You would not go back to a restaurant where the staff openly mocked your requests or acted like you were a silly, foolish woman for asking a question; charged you full price for the experience of being within the walls of their facility; and then honestly felt that you had no right to complain after they denied your request because it’s their “restaurant policy” to do so. I would expect you would choose another restaurant, even if it is a few extra miles down the road.

We’re talking about the birth of our children, mamas. You have a choice, but you need to make that choice before you go into labor. Unfortunately, once you are within the walls of a hospital, it has been proven time and again that your opinion and desires for your birth experience do not matter as much as you would think.

May 15, 2007 at 6:53 am 1 comment

Another Mama is denied her placenta!

Another Las Vegas hospital has decided to align itself with Sunrise Hospital against mothers. North Vista Hospital today denied a mother’s request for her placenta, citing health concerns. She told them she would be willing to sign whatever forms they wanted her to sign that would absolve them of liability should they release it to her. She offered to subject herself to HIV and Hepatitis tests to prove that she, and thereby her placenta, does not pose an infectious disease risk to anyone. They refused, and instead responded that they would not release her placenta without a court order. They then gave her until May 15, less than one week, to do so.

Interestingly enough, this is the exact same date that Sunrise Hospital gave Anne Swanson to respond with a lawsuit bofore threatening to destroy her placenta.

I’m curious –  Are hospitals not businesses, dependent upon their paying customers for their survival? Are pregnant women not a considerable source of income for these hospitals?  Do they feel that intimidation, bullying and threats are going to make them seem welcoming and supportive of women and families? Perhaps a boycott is in order… let them feel the ramifications of their actions in their wallets. They need to realize that women have a choice as to where to birth their babies, and we women have a strong desire,  NEED, to birth our babies where we feel safe and confident that our needs will be met. There are many hospitals to choose from in Las Vegas. Even better – there are many competent midwives here who will provide the personal care and birth experience that women deserve.

A hospital that attempts to bully women into submission and has the arrogance to think that they control  the contents of her womb should realize that women will not just lay down and take the abuse for the pleasure of  subjecting their bodies to a hospital’s policies.

As a side note, I just searched Sunrise’s website with the term "maternity".  It came back with a list of helpful links for pregnant women. I’ll list a few of the gems here:

Longer Lasting and More Severe Maternal Depression Increases Risk of Child’s Depression
Anxiety During Pregnancy May Increase Child’s Risk of ADHD
Depression Negatively Affects Mothers’ Interactions With Their Infants

For Pete’s sake, give these women their placentas!

 

May 10, 2007 at 6:05 am 2 comments

Potential Court Case

A friend and colleague of mine, Anne Swanson, teaches hypnobirthing courses here in Las Vegas. She was laboring peacefully at home when her midwife discovered the baby had turned and was presenting as a double footling breech. Anne continued to labor, but the surges grew longer, and the baby’s heartrate started to drop with each one. They transferred to Sunrise Hospital and delivered Anne’s baby girl via cesarean section on Thursday, April 12. As it turns out, the baby’s cord was wrapped around her neck, causing the drop in heartrate.

Anne was the first client of mine to deliver at Sunrise. When she asked to take her placenta, the hospital refused, although it had no written policy stating that she could not take her placenta and could not give a valid reason as to their refusal. The week previous, on April 5, I had a client deliver for the first time at Southern Hills Hospital, which is a sister hospital to Sunrise. The nurses there were very receptive to what I do, and even invited me to come in and leave brochures and educational materials in the nurse’s lounge to help educate the staff as to the benefits of placenta, since this is certain to become more popular as word spreads. After the warm reception at that hospital, I got in touch with some of the nurses who were instrumental in getting that client’s placenta released. They gave me some advice as to how to approach Sunrise, who to talk to, which forms their client had filled out to get the placenta released, and were really very helpful.

The staff at Sunrise had the exact opposite reaction. They were appalled by what I was doing, and by Anne’s intended use for her placenta. They had meetings with their lawyers and Risk Management as to how to address the situation. I called on a former client of Anne’s, and a current client of mine, who happens to be a Nevada State Deputy* Attorney General, and enlisted her help. We were on the phone all day trying to get the placenta released since we were approaching the 48-hour mark, and the placenta would soon be useless for encapsulation purposes and of no benefit to Anne during her postpartum recovery. The day ended with the hospital lawyer telling Anne that they would not release her placenta without a court order, due to infectious control issues, and agreed to store it and place it in the freezer while we determined our response.

The Deputy* Attorney General has found a colleague who may be able to take on the case pro bono. He is waiting to speak to Anne and myself before presenting the case to his partners. Hopefully this will all happen very quickly and we can present our case in court. The hospital will present their concerns, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) will present theirs, and then it will be our chance to present all of the research, the testimonials and the community support for this practice. I have Anne’s permission to rally the troops in whatever means necessary, including internet promotion, press releases, media, the works. What’s exciting about the case is that we will be setting precedent. Nevada does not have an appellate court level, so any case that is appealed higher than Clark County goes straight to the State Supreme Court. Anne Swanson is the best possible candidate for this case, since she has been networked into the natural birth community for nearly four years and has over 350 clients who will hopefully be willing to appear on her behalf, not to mention the numerous professional associates who are equally passionate about the natural birth and health issue that this presents. So we should be able to mount a considerable level of grassroots community support.

I will be doing much of the legwork, since Anne is recovering from childbirth and surgery, has a newborn baby and older daughter at home, and needs to enjoy her babymoon in as much peace as possible. It is very likely that I will be called as a witness, so I am hard at work gathering every bit of research and information to support our side as possible. I have also been instructed to contact the leading researcher into placentophagy, Dr. Mark Kristal from the University at Buffalo in New York to see if he will travel here to give expert testimony, or at least write an affadavit for myself and the information I present on PlacentaBenefits.info.

Beyond the issue with Anne, the hospital reported me to the Southern Nevada Health District, so I have had multiple conversations with state-licensed drug officials to discuss what I am doing and how I am doing it. The official stance is that if I prepare the placentas in the clients’ home as a service, they do not have jurisdiction over me, and I am exempted from their licensing requirements. I am trying to get that in writing as I type this. The city of North Las Vegas has denied me a business license yet again, this time citing the need for written verification from SNHD as to the legitimacy of what I’m doing. 

SNHD noticed on PlacentaBenefits.info that I was promoting my first seminar on the benefits of placenta at a local herbal store, Herbally Grounded. They surreptitiously called the store to get more information on myself and the seminar, and apparently were down there in person, although they did not identify themselves as SNHD officials.  The owners of Herbally Grounded have had many unpleasant experiences with the health department just to get their store open (SNHD delayed the opening of her store for months with various expensive and inane requirements), and understandably do not want to become involved in any sort of controversy.  So my first seminar, which was to be Thursday, April 19, has been cancelled. I have another one scheduled at a different location next month, but I am now nervous to promote it via PBi.

I intend to continue promoting placenta encapsulation for postpartum women. I believe this is a woman’s rights issue, a First Amendment issue, and that a woman is entitled to do with her placenta as she wishes. Our government does not get to decide, once again, what we do with our bodies; how we should manage our own health and wellness; and deny women of something that is incredibly beneficial during their postpartum recovery.

A lawyer friend said that with the environment here in Las Vegas – which is conservative, close-minded, with a highly-regulated medical establishment – that we will not be doing battle, but will be taking on the full war. So be it!
This is incredibly important for all women who come behind.

Thank you, and please fan the flame of your activist spirit. We need your support!

* Erroneously referred to the State Attorney General in original post

April 17, 2007 at 6:15 am 4 comments


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