Canada: Alberta mom who died shortly after giving birth donates brain, placenta to research - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaAlberta mom who died shortly after giving birth donates brain, placenta to research

09:05  05 june  2019
09:05  05 june  2019 Source:   globalnews.ca

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After the hard work of delivering a baby, a mom deserves to do nothing but rest and snuggle with her newborn. From there, what happens to the placenta depends on you and your hospital. Parents noted that if the placenta suffered any damage in delivery or appeared to have any abnormalities, it'll

Alberta mom who died shortly after giving birth donates brain, placenta to research© Marie Alba Sabrina Lauman with daughter, Scarlett.

Sabrina Lauman was 35 years old and a few weeks pregnant with her second child when she found out she had a rare, fatal dementia. Now, the Edmonton mother's gift to research could help prevent pain for other families.

In the summer of 2018, Lauman started to show signs of memory loss. She was diagnosed with CJD - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorder.

Doctors didn't think she would live long enough to give birth but baby Stella was born at 36 weeks by c-section on Jan. 11, 2019.

Lauman died on February 4, 2019 — Stella's original due date.

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Her family donated her brain, placenta, amniotic fluid and cord blood to the University of Alberta's Valerie Sim.

"Sabrina and her family were incredible throughout this unbelievably difficult process," said Sim, who was also Lauman's neurologist.

"They are championing the cause and leading public awareness campaigns and funding and that's absolutely what we need."

The associate professor of neurology leads research in prion diseases. Sim explains prion proteins are normal in the human brain, but only become problematic when they misfold.

"Once (the prion) folds the wrong way, it causes its neighbour prion protein to fold the wrong way," said Sim. "They stick together, cause the next one to fold and it's like dominoes going through the brain."

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CJD affects one in a million people. Patients are usually in their 60s, and die within four months of the onset of symptoms.

Lauman was the youngest patient Sim has ever encountered. There are seven other documented cases of pregnant women with CJD around the world.

Sim has already confirmed Lauman's placenta did not contain any proteins that could have affected baby Stella.

"There's never been a documented case of transmission to baby. So we're very feeling very confident that (Stella) is not at risk."

Lauman's sister, Marie Alba, and best friend, Katie Wojtowicz, recently spoke about the need for more research at Prion 2019, an international research conference in Edmonton.

"(We want to)... motivate and encourage the brilliant people that are (at the conference) from all over the world to continue their fight to find a cure for CJD," Alba said.

"And just show people it's not one in a million; it's Sabrina. It's my best friend," Wojtowicz said.

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Family and friends have banded together to help Lauman's husband, Brent, raise his two daughters.

Stella is now five months old. To her family, she and her three-year-old sister Scarlett represent hope.

"Stella is happy and healthy and Scarlett is loving life, just like Sabrina did," Alba said.

The family is planning a fundraiser for this fall. More information is available here.

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