All of us, in this big world, are stories in our self. Stories of goals, emotions, education, success, character and health. Most of us enjoy the underrated blessings of life alike, but all are not fortunate enough. Some people suffer from certain health issues which influence their lives to such a great extent, that their journey towards achieving goals comes to a halt. One such health issue is skin burns.
In India, burn injuries form the second largest group of fatalities after road casualties. Statistics suggest that 80% of burn injuries affecting 7.5 million people are females and children every year and 10% of them develop life-threatening conditions due to damaged organs with 50% succumbing to injuries. The rehabilitation process is lengthy for those who undergo multiple surgeries. Skin donation is reasonably a novel idea, not talked about much, but it can be done after death to give life to burn victims. Skin transplant is needed by patients who are targets of cancer, burns or other sufferings. Injuries caused due to burns affect all angles of life be it physical, psychological, social or economic.
Skin is often considered to be the largest organ system of the human body. The average adult male has 18 square feet of skin weighing over 6 pounds. Skin is a remarkably durable structure with an incredible ability to regenerate and heal itself. The skin performs the following functions for the human body:
- Provides a physical barrier to the outside environment.
- Provides outward appearance.
- Conserves body fluid by preventing evaporative loss.
- Provides thermo-regulation/maintains body temperature.
- Excretes water and oils.
- Produces vitamin D in the presence of sunlight.
- Provides sensations of temperature and touch.
- Assists in the development of the immune system.
Why Skin Donation for burn victims?
In cases of burn victims, shield of the body is damaged and the body is open to attacks from infection and if the affected portion is not safeguarded as early as possible, the patient is exposed to infection, fluid loss and possible death. For cases where the burn percentage is less than 40%, skin grafting from non-burnt areas of the patient can be done. But when the skin grafting is not possible from one’s own skin, then the only resort left is to substitute timely with artificial – cadaveric skin. 80% of such cases can be saved and given a new lease of life if there is sufficient skin available in skin bank. The most important thing to understand is that after death one can give gift of life to someone by donating skin for burn victims.
Thanks to medical science, the burnt skin can now be replaced by a healthy skin from the skin banks. Skin Banking is a process in which skin is removed from the body of an eligible deceased donor (valid upto 6 hours from death), tested for suitability as a graft material, packaged, stored, and finally reused as a graft. It is processed as per the international protocols. The process is similar to that for blood banking. Out of the eight layers of skin only the topmost layer (1/8th) is harvested. Skin can be stored in the skin bank at 4-8o Celsius up to 5 years. The stored skin can be used for burns patients who have deep burns, chemical burns, electrical burns, radiation burns. Frozen grafts can have a shelf life of up to five years. Persons infected with critical diseases like HIV, Skin infection, Septicemia, Cancer and Hepatitis cannot donate skin. Skin from donor’s body is extracted from portions such as legs, thighs and back without disfiguring body.
Now, what is expected from all of us as humans – Talk to family members and convince them about you being a skin donor and concept of donating skin to burn centers. Do keep this in mind that talking to your next kin and getting his approval is necessary to execute the deed of donating skin for free surgery.
You never how many lives you will touch with your good deed!