The Marla Foundation

The Marla Foundation, Inc. was founded to honor Marla Victoria Woodside for the courage and strength with which she lived and the dignity and truth for which she died.


While in the U.S Air Force, Marla was diagnosed with Situs after she “flat-lined” a routine EKG.  That is when they discovered her heart was on the opposite side.  Her autopsy revealed Situs Inversus Totalis meaning all of her major organs were reversed.  Her brain was not included in the autopsy and the cause of death listed as “undetermined.”


When Marla was born there was no stem cell research, no cord blood being saved, no multiple deliveries being recorded unless the fetus took a breath, and no access to birth records and health histories for adoptive parents.  We have come a long way since 1969, but not far enough when it takes an EKG on a grown woman to learn that her heart was reversed.  It is unacceptable that Marla’s brain was as unimportant in her death as her heart was at birth.  We can and must do better for children and their parents. 


The Marla Foundation Inc. will help teach children to locate their heart and teach parents how to make sure it is where it belongs.  Intrauterine fertilization has increased multiple births and womb deaths are increasing.  Medical and birth records need to be available to adoptive parents.  We need more research on the brain to understand that what we have not yet conceived might be possible in mental health. 


There is no birth record for Marla because there were no computers when she was born.  Marla’s autopsy was done too late for organ donation and the Medical Examiner stated that autopsy of the brain was only done in criminal cases.  In life and death, Marla teaches us.  We now know how great the need is for more knowledge of the brain and how womb deaths play more of a role in the future for our children than we have been willing or able to see, hear, or understand.


Learning that brain lobes can be wired differently than we had known could impact the entire world.  The Marla Foundation, Inc. will provide grants for research on the brain in Situs Deaths; collect data on incidents of Situs in the US and UK; provide grants to qualified mental health professionals treating womb death survivors; work with adoption agencies (private and public) to encourage collaborative parenting and the sharing of birth records; and provide medical-alert bracelets for people with Situs.  The Marla Foundation, Inc. website will educate and inspire children and their parents, birth and adoptive, and utilize all new technology for them to share their own stories, find their hearts, and explore the brain for more enlightened mental health.