Ganga Medical Centre & Hospitals Pvt Ltd

Coimbatore, India.


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Skin Bank

When you donate eyes, you give sight
When you donate skin, you give life

Did you know a very thin layer of your skin, thinner than a paper, can save the life of a burn victim?

In severe burns, the burnt skin layer has to be surgically removed and grafted with new skin, which is critical in saving the life of the burns victim. Like any organ donation – everyone can donate their skin.

Burn care is a great challenge both to the medical profession and to the society. It needs skilled and dedicated team of medical professionals, and is labour and cost intensive. One of the greatest challenges is to prevent infection and for that we need to replace the burnt skin with normal skin as early as possible. In major burns the area involved is extensive and hence patient's own skin is insufficient to cover the burnt areas. In such situations the donor skin comes as a great boon to temporarily tide over the critical period and allows the patient to recover.

Like eye donation, skin can be harvested from any dead patient. The harvested skin is treated and preserved in such away that it can be stored for 5 years. The preservation process removes the antigenicity of the skin and so it can be used for anyone without the need for matching of blood groups and other tissue typing processes.

The Department of Plastic Surgery at Ganga Hospital has been in the forefront of trauma reconstruction and microsurgery and has taken great initiatives for the care of burn patients. The project "Hope after Fire", for the correction of post burn deformities is a joint initiative of Ganga Hospital and the Rotary Club of Coimbatore Metropolis. Through this project over 200 major reconstructive surgeries with an outlay of over Rs 70 lakhs have been performed free to the patients changing the lives of patients and their families. The project goes on.

Setting up of the skin bank is an initiative of Ganga Hospital to improve the outcome in acute burns. It has been done with the guidance of the National Burns Centre at Mumbai which pioneered skin banking in India. We sincerely hope that we will usher in a new era in burn care in the region.

Reconstructing Lives… One life at a time……

Skin Bank Inauguration Photos

What are we trying to do?

Burns is a major challenge for health care providers. It is because it is challenging to treat, very labour intensive and when the percentage of involvement goes over 40 to 50 per cent making them survive is a great problem. This is because there is not enough donor skin in the body of the individual to take to cover the loss. Due to that the area gets infected and they die. If we could remove all the burnt tissue early before it gets infected chances of infection are less. But then the raw area has to be covered with skin. If we have skin from donors then the area can be covered and it covers the area in the crucial period of the first three weeks.

From whom do we plan to get skin?

We plan to get skin from brain dead people (just like other organ donation like kidney, liver donation) and also from dead people within 6 hours of death (just like eye donation). Skin donation concept is new and one skin bank has just been established in a private set up in Chennai recently. The most successful one is of the National Burns centre at Arioli, Mumbai which has been functioning very successfully. Just because we can take it even from just dead persons we can get more people to donate. In Mumbai, the greatest combination is eye donation and skin donation. The concept of skin donation is not there in the country.

Can anyone donate?

Skin after harvest is treated with chemicals so that the immune characteristics are lost in the tissue. Then it can be used on anybody / There is no need for any matching of blood group, HLA etc. We don't take from people who die of severe infectious diseases, HIV, Hepatitis virus positive people.

Will there be any deformity after harvesting of the graft?

No. we will harvest skin only from the thighs and legs and the back of the body. After that it will be dressed. Face, front of chest and abdomen will not be touched. Nobody will know that the skin graft has been taken. We are taking only a thin layer of the skin and so any form will not be affected.

What will be the impact of our work ?

It will be great. We can save the lives of many burns people who otherwise are destined to die. Patient will be charged only nominally for the process of preparation of the graft and the maintenance of the unit.