Skin donation, an important part of saving burns patients, is going down in Mumbai. As per the National Crime Record Bureau, Mumbai had the highest number of accidental burn cases in India with 234 in 2014. Many burn cases can be treated through skin grafting, but are not, as there are few skin donations. In 2014, a total of 261 people’s skins were donated at the biggest skin bank in the state, the National Burns Centre at Airoli. But the number went down to 219 in 2015.
mid-day recently reported on a 72-year-old man donating the skin of his 100-year-old mother after she died, (‘Skintillating! City’s oldest skin donor is a centenarian’, June 6). Age is one of the misconceptions related to donating skin, that stops people from doing it. “Unlike other organs, skin donation doesn’t have any age restrictions. Any person can donate it. And it takes hardly 40 minutes to remove the skin from the cadaver donors. We take proper care so that there is no deformation of the body. Despite this people rarely come forward for skin donation,” said Dr Sunil Keswani, director of the National Burns Centre. On an average, the city records 600 deaths due to burns every year.
During treatment, in cases of minor burns, the skin is taken from other parts of the patient’s body, then grafted onto the burnt areas, which helps in curbing the infection. But in major burns, doctors have to rely on skin donors.
Donor kin speak
Visalam Dhendapani, a 76-year-old was one of the cadaver donors at the bank. Talking to mid-day her daughter Mahalaxmi said, “Burns are the worst thing that can happen to a person. So when we got to know about it, we thought of donating my mother’s skin so that needy patients can benefit from it.”