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Tissue bank helps heal and save lives

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JESSUP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The lives of millions of people all over the world have a connection with northeastern Pennsylvania.

They’ve received human tissue donations processed and distributed from Lackawanna County. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the world’s largest tissue banks.

“So this is where our technicians gown into the processing area,” said MTF Biologics Associate Director of Business Optimization Barry Demansky.

On the other side of the window from where he stood, skilled professionals put on protective clothing to avoid any possible contamination for an effort whose value is difficult to measure.

“We save and heal lives and we do so by making it happen. So one of the foundational principles we operate on is teamwork,” said Mr. Demansky.

Nearly 300 employees play a role in the processing of bone and tendons from deceased donors at the facility in Jessup. Among what they create are spinal spacers which are made from tibia bone. The spinal spacers are used in operations to treat spinal stenosis and painful disc conditions. 1,100 tissue grafts a day are sent out from northeastern Pennsylvania.

MTF Biologics President/CEO Joe Yaccarino said, “Every day, they’re taking the gift of human donation and they’re transforming that into implants that are used in surgical procedures throughout the world.”

One of the staffers at MTF Biologics knows how powerful that tissue donation can be. A picture of 23-year-old Dave D’Agostino of Scranton hangs in a conference room at the facility. The pre-med student who died in 1982 became Pennsylvania’s first tissue donor.

MTF Biologics Employee and donor family representative Ed D’Agostino said, “He talked about what tissue banking could be. He talked about how it could help people and we knew that. We knew that he was committed. So when he died, there was no question.”

Quilts of selfless donors like Dave D’Agostino adorn some of the walls at MTF Biologics along with photos of several recipients who’ve benefited from the tissue bank.

“I still feel gifted that I have become a tissue donor recipient,” said Lesley Geller of Yardley, Bucks County. Ms. Geller received tissue for breast reconstruction after a double mastectomy. “It turned what seemed like the ultimate loss for me which really wasn’t and flipped into really the ultimate gift of life for me.”

A mission of healing and saving all around the world with a northeastern Pennsylvania connection. MTF Biologics is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey where skin and birth tissue are used to treat conditions ranging from burn injuries and breast cancer to diabetic ulcerations.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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