21 December 2011
By Kinjal Desai
"It is but little that you give, when you give off your possessions, you truly give when you give off yourself" – Khalil Gibran. Who else would better understand Gibran's quote than those who have suffered from near–death burn injuries and have survived only because of a generous skin donor!
The concept of skin donation is new in India and this is probably why over 50% of burn victims succumb to their injuries. Just like eyes and kidneys, people could pledge their skinafter death.
However, if doctors in the city are to be believed then Gujarat is soon to have its first skin bank and the second state in India to have one after Maharashtra which has a bank in Mumbai.
Today, in the state, plastic surgeons are only dependent on auto–grafting or biological dressing or other skin substitutes, owing to absence of a skin bank.
According to academic and head of burns and plastic surgery department, Civil Hospital, Dr MF Shaikh, "Gujarat government is keen on starting a skin bank at Ahmedabad. During Vibrant Gujarat, we had signed an MoU with Euro Skin Bank, one of the largest skin banks of Netherlands. However, owing to various developments taking place on Civil Hospital campus, we are yet to decide the exact location of the skin bank."
Dr Shaikh stated that this project is being carried out in tandem with Dr Sunil Keswani, director of national burns centre (NBC), Airoli, Mumbai, who is acting as a guide in setting up this bank. Said Dr Keswani from Mumbai, "At NBC, initially there were three to five donations per month which has now increased to six to eight donations. Although there is a marginal increase, there is very little awareness with regard to skin donation and hence there are no major donors coming forward. What we need are more donors."
Dr Shaikh said, "The number of burns patients in India is increasing every year. For instance, while in Civil Hospital the indoor burns cases handled per year are 1,500, at VS Hospital 400 cases are handled per year. If the skin bank is built and a large number of donors come forward, then the mortality and morbidity rates will fall and the rate of survival will increase.
Currently only 50% of severe burns patients survive." As of now it is said that, two full wards will be given to the burns and plastic surgery department at the new development site at Civil Hospital. The government is spending Rs2.5 crore for procuring the equipment.
CEO of Shatayu, Bhavana Chhabariya, said, "Despite being one of the largest organ donation set–ups in Gujarat, we don't have donors for skin, nor do we persuade people to donate as we have no storage facility. But if state government does set up a skin bank, we would persuade our existing donors, 5,000 in number, to donate. We will also educate them and create more awareness."