Few Facts and Significance

Dr Amrit Kalsi MD(Hom)
Chief Medical Officer (NFSG)
Dte of AYUSH(Homeopathic Wing)

Skin in our body is the largest human organ. It enables us to have our sense of touch, acts as a shield to protect us from heat and cold, and from environmental factors such as chemicals, ultraviolet radiation and bacteria, temp regulation.Under normal conditions, our skin is able to mend itself from daily wear and tear. However, when skin gets too badly burnt or damaged, it is unable to repair itself without help. For patients with severe burn injuries, one way to promote healing is to cover the wound with donated skin.

The Skin Bank recovers, prepares and preserves donated skin to be used for burns treatment. As with other organs, skin can be donated upon a person's death.Donated skin can be used as a temporary dressing for severe burns patients who do not have enough healthy skin on their body that the surgeon can use to graft onto their wounds. The donated skin helps relieve the patient of pain and discomfort, prevents risk of infection and minimizes fluid loss.

Donated skin helps save lives. Without skin transplant, many severe burns patients could succumb to severe infection, leading to high mortality. In the recent times, the awareness for the donation of eyes and kidney has increased, there is a rise in their donation. But, when it comes to skin donation there are very few who know about it.

Anybody above 18 years till 100 years can donate their skin, except people having HIV, hepatitis or skin cancer. So wrinkled skin is equally beneficial and function & biological capacity of our skin should not be underestimated irrespective of age.

Skin tissue is not donated while you are alive. Skin is recovered from deceased donors. In order for the tissue to be useful, recovery is done within 6 hours from the time of death. The screening process for a potential donor includes reviewing of all donor medical records, physical examination and blood sampling for infectious diseases.

There are total 8 layers of skin; we harvest only the 1/8th layer i.e. the uppermost layer of the skin is only harvested.Using special instruments, only the outer skin is recovered. The thickness of the skin recovered is about 0.04cm, leaving approximately 85% of the donor's skin still intact.

Skin Harvesting is performed by Skin donation Team consisting of one Doctor/Trained Skin Bank Technician, two Nurses and one attendant.

A special battery-operated instrument called DERMATOME is used to harvest skin. The recovered skin pieces are processed, individually packed and specially stored at temperatures ranging from -70oC to -196oC, for up to 5 years.

The donor's body is treated with utmost respect at all times. Skin is typically recovered from the deceased donor's back and lower limbs. 85% of the skin structure remains intact therefore disfigurement and bleeding are minimal. The family members of the deceased can also choose the areas in which the skin is recovered.The skin tone at the donor sites will not be red and appears as a paler shade compared to the outer layer of your skin. There is also hardly any bleeding as there is no more blood circulation in the body. Skin is recovered from areas such as your back, thighs or leg areas, which can be covered by clothing.There is no visible disfigurement.

One can sign up as a skin donor by - being involved!

“Speak to your loved ones about skin donation”

Share your wishes with your family, so that at the time of donation, they will know that they are acting according to your wishes or full filling the last wishes.

With a small number of skin banks available to meet the ever increasing demand; only awareness of skin donation is a small step to solve the problem. Infrastructure up gradation and awareness must go hand in hand to create a measurable impact.

Medical students should be adequately and appropriately informed regarding skin donation that will create a huge community of individuals who can be facilitators of change and promote awareness on skin donation. For this all medical/ Nursing colleges should be approached and sensitized.

Medicoscan counsel the relatives of the deceased, regarding skin donation. They can be the ambassadors for this Noble Cause.

This is my humble submission in this regard to spread awareness through this medium– Over coming misconceptions about skin donation.

You Can keep your touch alive by pledging to donate skin!!