Skin Donation: A Lesser-known, But Equally Helpful Gift
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18 May 2010
While awareness about eye and kidney donation is on the rise, very few people are even aware of the concept of skin donation.
This is why National Burns Centre, Airoli, will soon kick-start a massive public awareness campaign to encourage people to donate their skin after death.
Mumbai, say doctors, needs about 2,000 skin donations a year, or five a day. "However, currently, we receive five skin donations a month, which is inadequate to meet the city’s needs," said burns specialist Dr Sunil Keswani, secretary, National Burns Centre.
"It is not that people do not want to donate, the problem is that they are not aware of the concept of skin donation," he added. "We are now trying to set up a special helpline for both eye as well as skin donation, so that relatives can arrange for both with just one phone call. We will also organise a large awareness campaign to promote awareness soon," said Dr Keswani.
Burn victims can be saved if a barrier is created by grafting new skin donated from others called ’homografts’. The donated skin is processed and stored in a skin bank before transplantation. According to Dr Keswani, the most common misconception about skin donation is that people think that the body is completely skinned and disfigured, when in fact, only the outermost layer of the skin, and that too, only from the thighs and the back, is removed.
The procedure, said Hetal Doshi, hospital co–ordinator, National Burns Centre, is quite simple.
"On receiving a call, a specialised burns ambulance with a doctor, nurse and trained paramedical staff reaches the spot and retrieves the skin from the legs, thighs and back of the patient. The procedure takes a mere 45 minutes, after which the back and thighs are bandaged and the body is returned to the family for cremation or burial," said Doshi.