Skin Donation

Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Psalm 69:9

Cold-shouldered by Life,”
I step into extreme warmth
And from amid the infernal cave
I see Life wave.

I want to live, I want to live,” I scream
As if in memory of some lovely dream
My flesh feels cold like I’m naked – no pain
Life! Will you clothe me again?

The skin is the primary clothing of the body – the basic need of clothing being provided by the Creator himself!

The idiom “wolf in sheep’s clothes” is often used to refer to the nature of a person being opposite to how he looks. But when the deeds of man are good and he sees the suffering of others as his own and gives himself to alleviate such suffering, his nature is likened to divinity.

By donating skin, the donor dons the role of the Provider Himself – by ‘clothing’ a person in need of skin. All religions eulogize such self-giving as humanity extending towards divinity.

What’s more, medical science had developed to make such lifegiving and life-enhancing gestures a reality. We are indeed fortunate to have been born in such a glowing period in history.

Skin Graf ting – Facts

When a person’s skin is damaged or lost – due to burns, skin ulceration, biopsies or other chronic skin wounds - and does not heal normally, doctors (plastic surgeons or dermatologists) may decide to perform a skin graft to repair the tissue.

A skin graft means a healthy layer of replacement skin is transplanted on to a wound site on skin.

The healthy layer of new skin thus placed on the affected site – secured with sutures - closes the wound. It serves to prevent the wound from infection, protects the tissue underneath, and expedites healing by attaching itself to the cells beneath.

Skin graft, which is actually skin transplantation, is considered based on factors such as wound size, location, and the availability of healthy skin elsewhere on the body.

Such healthy skin is harvested or taken from another part (called the ‘donor area’) of the patient’s own body (an autograft).

The Role of Skin Donation

1. Skin grafts are usually needed by victims of third degree burns whose burnt skins have to be excised within 2 days. India has an estimated 7 million people who suffer burns and undergo treatment each year. Among these, 3 million are admitted in hospitals while around a million succumb.

2. Though preferably, healthy skin is harvested from the unaffected body parts of the patients and implanted where the skin is totally burnt, in patients where a large part of the body is affected due to burn injuries, enough healthy skin is not available from the patient's own body for transplantation. Donated skin comes in handy to save the victim from death or a life of disfigurement.

3. Where an autograft (as explained above) is not possible, doctors may consider an allograft i.e. transplantation of skin from a live or cadaveric donor which may be made available as a skin replacement, to begin with.

4. Treating burns takes around Rs.1000/- a day and surgeons spend several hours dressing the wounds. Though there are various dressings available to treat burns like biological dressings (obtained from animals), synthetic/bio-synthetic dressings and natural dressings (like banana leaf and potato peel), recovery is fastest and most cost-effective with a human skin graft.

5. A human skin graft makes the patient much more comfortable, reducing the growth of bacteria and loss of critical fluid. It also improves patient morale and immunological state. Donated skin can promote the healing of the wound bed while the patient's own skin is cultured for grafting.

6. Men and women in the 18 - 70 years may come forward to donate skin.

7. Like kidney donation, the practice of live skin donation by relatives is becoming prevalent in India.

Skin Banking In India

1. The Transplantation of Human Organs Act of 1994 does not include skin within its purview, based on the argument that ‘skin is not an organ’.

2. However, this has not dampened the efforts towards skin banking altogether, since the Act does not expressly ban cadaveric skin donation/harvesting.

3. The burns unit in Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai has been conducting cadaveric skin grafting since 2000, under the Bombay Anatomy Act, 1949

Types of Skin Grafts

Skin tissue culturists approach skin grafts by the following three varieties for the purpose of research and grafting:

  • Keratinocyte: Skin cell which is the major cell type of the epidermis, making up about 90% of epidermal cells.
  • Melanocyte: Special cells in the skin (melanocyte clusters appear on the skin as moles) located in the bottom layer of the skin's epidermis.
  • Fibroblast: A fibroblast is a type of cell that provides a structural framework (stroma) for many tissues, and plays a critical role in wound healing.

To Donate Skin Tissue, Contact...

37, First Avenue
Shastri Nagar, Adyar
Chennai – 600 020
Telephone: 91- 44 – 2491 7471

Skin Care Specialist & Consultant
Mobile: 98400.25810

The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes. Likewise those spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions;
they cease to be spirits.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900),
German philosopher & Culture Critic