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Times of India
01 June 2010
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

Skin bank at PHRC yet to be fully operational
It is six months now, but the city’s first skin bank launched at the Poona Hospital and Research Centre (PHRC) is yet to become fully operational. This skin bank is supposed to help burn patients get natural skin grafts and preserve skins of deceased donors for long–term use.

Plastic surgeon Shrirang Pandit, in–charge of the skin bank at PHRC, said, “The skin bank is not entirely defunct. It does have short–term storage capacity and we use the facility to treat patients with burns and wounds on a day–today basis. However, long–term storage facility to preserve skin for periods of four years is not there in place. Also, lack of skin donors has been an impediment for the facility to take off in full capacity.”

Facilitated by the National Burn Centre (NBC), Mumbai, the skin bank was set up by the Rotary Club of Khadki in association with the Poona hospital on November 23, 2009. “It will be some time before the skin bank is operational to its full capacity. For now, it has a cooling and storage system and skin grafting knife. A donated skin can be initially preserved for a few weeks,” said Pandit.

Arun Jamkar, dean, Sassoon general hospital, said, “The facility will create awareness about skin donation and ultimately help burn patients get timely treatment.” The Sassoon hospital has also proposed for a skin bank at its burn unit.

He said, “The NBC, in collaboration with Rotary, will in the near future start a skin bank at our burn unit. The NBC will also extend technical know–how and training support to the skin bank at Sassoon.”
Skin Bank at PHRC yet to be Fully Operational
Confirming this, cosmetic surgeon Sunil Keswani, who is also an acting medical director of the NBC, said, “We are planning to start a skin bank at the Sassoon hospital. But, before that, we want the skin bank at the PHRC to become fully functional.”

Explaining the need for more skin donors, Pandit said, “Skin taken from deceased donors helps save lives of burn victims, but the general awareness is so low that doctors are forced to resort to costlier and tedious procedures.”

“In skin grafting, one does not need to match tissue types of the donor and the recipient. Any individual’s skin can be grafted onto anyone. The graft is only a temporary barrier that protects the patient from fatal infections; eventually the patient’s own skin regenerates,” said Keswani.

Since skin grafts are expensive and it is difficult to procure skin from living donors, skin from dead bodies are easier to use. Skin obtained from bodies within 12 hours of death can be preserved in the skin bank, added Keswani.

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