Victoria's new secret: Skin bank to meet a burning challenge


Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-09-17 16:39 Bengaluru: The newly launched ‘Skin Bank’ in Victoria Hospital has come as a ray of hope for patients with severe burn injuries. And the bank, which became operational in June this year, also has had a good start, with doctors harvesting skins from nine dead patients in just four months. According to Dr Ramesh KT, Dean, Department of Plastic Surgery, the first person to donate had been 78-year-old Nandlal Shah from Chamrajpet. But there is less awareness about skin donation, feels Dr Ramesh. “People assume that doctors take off the complete skin from the body but it is not true. We take skin only from the thigh, leg and back parts,” he says, adding that anyone above 18 can pledge to donate his/her skin. Nagaraj, Skin Bank In-charge He referred to a case wherein the parents of a boy, who had died in a road accident, came all the way from Manipal to donate their son’s skin. Unlike organs such as heart, kidney or eye, skin taken from a dead person cannot be used immediately. The skin has to be treated in the laboratory for two months. "The skin is harvested within six hours of death either at hospital or home. The process is simple and takes less than 45 minutes," he says. Talking more about the process of harvesting, Nagaraj, Skin Bank In-charge, says the skin is incubated for the first 21 days using glycerol and antibiotics. “It is trimmed as it is of different sizes. Later we keep it in the cooling incubator for different kinds of test like bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Some part of the skin is sent to laboratory for HIV, HBSAG, and HBCV test. After the tests again the skin is meshed into different sizes," he says. Nagaraj says that the hospital hasn’t seen cases of 50 to 60 percent injuries till now. “We are waiting to give a good start by using the skin from skin bank. This skin is nothing but biological dressing for burn injuries patients. It not only saves lives but also relieves the pain, reduces infection, increasing chances of survival significantly, especially when the burn area exceeds 40 per cent," Nagaraj says.