The discovery that human tissues and organs share many similarities with pig tissues and organs has led to medical advances that have benefited many and even saved lives. Because of these similarities, pig tissue is often used in medical devices to treat various injuries or conditions in human beings. The need for pig tissue, also known as porcine tissue, continues to play an important role in medicare and innovation.
Sherry (Ziboro) Mitchell, an Indiana native, started her career in student lending and software development before moving to a medical device company in Lafayette that uses urinary bladders of pigs. This is where Sherry learned about the importance of pig tissue. While she may not have a biology background, she took an interest in learning about where and how companies obtained what they needed. She quickly realized there was an opportunity to be a sourcing company for pig tissue so in 2007, Sherry founded Tissue Source.
“I was most inspired to start Tissue Source because our products heal people. These products give people a quality of life that they otherwise wouldn’t experience. Sometimes our products are life-saving,” Sherry says. “We’re using an abundant resource that, after it’s used for food, is often discarded, but the parts we use are not used in the food chain, so we are extending the value of that animal.”
Sherry started Tissue Source with one goal in mind: high quality, specialized, pig tissue sourcing. They are a boutique sourcing firm that focuses on providing high quality pig tissue for specialized uses. From nose to tail, different parts of the pig are used for different purposes. Tissue Source works with companies that need precision extraction of a particular pig tissue — this could be anything from a small organ being used for children or a specific kind of tissue used for research and development.
Today, Tissue Source has grown to include over 250 customers.
“We pride ourselves on understanding our customer’s end use of the pig tissue. Then we source it with the highest quality we can find,” says Sherry. “It was important to me to make sure we are raising the bar because of the delicate nature of how our products are used and providing the best outcomes.”
To support their continued growth, Sherry added Zach Morris to the team in 2020. Zach brings over 10 years of operations and production management expertise. He is responsible for the planning, scheduling, production and shipping of the Tissue Source product.
In addition this past year, Tissue Source brought on Dr. Laura Lemmons, a licensed veterinarian, to direct the Tissue Source Quality Management System. Laura helps ensure applicable FDA regulations and ISO standards are maintained and continuous quality improvement initiatives are met.
Now that Tissue Source has more employees, they need a place to meet with customers, complete the many audits they must go through, and present a level of professionalism. They chose zWORKS because it is near their homes and use it every week for face-to-face meetings. It has become very important post-COVID.
“It was really important to me as we added staff that we have some face-to-face time. We established a collaboration day every week so that we can get together, discuss customer needs, meet with whomever, and strategize about our business,” Sherry says. “We love the location and the perks of being in the village and being close to everything is really nice.”
Planning for the future, Tissue Source is looking for ways to improve logistics for production, shipping, and coordination. Now that some restrictions on traveling and events have been lifted, Tissue Source is looking forward to conferences and tradeshows returning in an attempt to help grow important referrals and spread the word within the medical and research community.