This Philadelphia Woman Will Prepare Your Placenta for $200

It starts with “ceviche,” ends with a capsule for easy swallowing.

placenta-ceviche-doula-philadelphiaThere’s a fascinating article on Al-Jazeera today about the financial struggles of adjunct professors in Philadelphia and beyond. (In short, non-tenured professors make very little money, can’t pay off their student loans, etc.)

But the thing that really jumped off the screen to us was the story of Melissa Degezelle, a Philadelphia adjunct professor who makes ends meet by taking new moms’ placentae and lemon-curing them into a ceviche-like substance before turning them into capsules for swallowing.

Degezelle, who most recently taught at Temple and Philadelphia University, is also a doula, and one of the services she lists on her website is “placenta preparation.” (She has degrees in creative writing, women’s studies, and English.)

Of course, we’ve heard of placenta-eating before. We just didn’t realize that you could pay someone to make it more easily edible. Makes sense though.

Many women believe that placenta-eating can be an effective treatment for post-partum depression. A local mother chronicled her experience in a 2013 Be Well Philly piece called “Why I Ate My Own Placenta.” The New York Times wrote about the trend in a 2012 in a piece titled “Why I Regret Eating My Placenta.” It’s not for everyone.

Degezelle charges $200 for her service, which includes pickup of the placenta from the hospital and delivery to your home. In the Al-Jazeera story, she transforms one placenta into a “lemon-cured ceviche” for a mom who just delivered a baby at the University of Pennsylvania hospital and then steams and dries it into into “sand-colored capsules.” The end result goes into a Chinese-food takeout container.

Need your placenta prepared? Here’s her website.

And here is Time contributor Joel Stein’s guide to preparing placenta at home.

[Note: The original version of this article indicated that Degezelle can turn a placenta into ceviche for $200, based on the reporting of the Al-Jazeera story. But Degezelle now says that the Al-Jazeera story was misleading and that the ceviche-like preparation is only part of the process.]

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

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  • Chris

    Shocked can’t make ends meet with degrees in creative writing, womens’ studies and English–if you’re going to triple major or earn graduate degrees, perhaps one of some value might make some sense.

    • Sally

      If you are shocked about that, you are completely clueless as to how hard it has recently become to find any sort of work in the Humanities and Liberal Arts.

      • Nick Robalik

        I’m thinking maybe you missed the joke.

  • Stephanie Kennedy

    Now I have heard it all. Eating your own plancenta and they frowned on stem cell research. What’s wrong with this picture.

  • Concerned Stranger

    I have no opinion about placenta consumption and frankly don’t care about it, but to be fair to this woman, she has explicitly stated on her website that she does not and has never offered placenta ceviche as a product. Rather, she states that she often cures the placenta in citrus before dehydrating and encapsulating it. Likewise, the only placenta service offered on her website is the standard encapsulation. Looking back, it appears that the original article likely twisted her description of the process and does not clearly state that she prepares the “ceviche” for consumption. Given the immense negative commentary towards this woman, I think it would be fair and upstanding for Philadelphia Magazine to publish a follow-up article acknowledging the assumptive nature of the article and the lack of further research involved.

    • vfiorillo

      Hi, Concerned Stranger. Victor the writer of this article here. I did, in fact, reach out to Ms. Degezelle prior to writing this article. She was en route to a vacation at the beach and was unable to offer any information at that time. We decided to publish, based on the reporting of the Al-Jazeera article. I have now updated the article to reflect the accurate information.

      • Concerned Stranger

        Thank you! My comment was not meant to carry any malice. It’s easy to forget the power your journalism has, especially on an internet platform. Putting a complete stranger’s image and societal perception in your hands is not a right, it’s a privilege. We’re all just people. I only hope that you and you and your counterparts will make even a small effort everyday to use your platform to raise people up, not tear them down. With that, I’m out. Peace & love.