Skin donation: An issue that should fire us up

There have been a spate of fires in Mumbai recently, the latest being a blaze at Linking Road, Bandra, where fortunately there were no injuries or fatalities. However, the fires bring into focus one vital aspect — skin donation.

Yesterday, this paper ran a two-page interview with Dr S Keswani, the director of Mumbai’s only burns centre in Airoli (Navi Mumbai). From the interview it was evident that there needs to be much more awareness about skin donation. While there are several well-meaning persons who want to donate, there is a lack of information on how to go about pledging one’s skin. It is also important that people know skin is needed not just for burns, but other kinds of injuries as well.

Perhaps it will help if a celebrity, like a film star or sportsperson, becomes the brand ambassador for skin donation. We have seen that eye donation got a fillip, and there was much more awareness, when Aishwarya Rai lent her name to the cause.

Along with the celebrity aspect, it is vital that religious figures are roped in to endorse donation. In India, religion plays a huge part and there are several myths associated with organ donation. One that has found traction is the myth that one who donates an organ will have to go without it in the next life. With skin donation in particular, there is the belief that the body will be mutilated and therefore, in many cases, family members do not allow the donation after the death of the person who has pledged his skin.

There is also the need for more facilities for burns patients, especially for families struggling with medical costs and lack of specialised care. The quality of care in burns wards needs to go up, as does the level of training to deal with patients.

In the end, myth busting, proper information, public response and the all-important religious aspect need to be addressed, for a multi-pronged strategy to up the numbers when it comes to skin donation.

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