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With fewer donations, State’s only skin bank unable to meet high demand- Mrit News

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While bank has received requests from 235 patients for skin so far, it has been able to cater to only 127

While bank has received requests from 235 patients for skin so far, it has been able to cater to only 127

While organ donation is picking up in the State, awareness about the concept of skin donation is yet to catch up. Since its inception in March 2016, the State’s first and only skin bank set up at the government-run Victoria Hospital has had only 142 donations.

Following this, the bank, set up in association with Rotary Ashirvad, has barely been able to meet 54% of the demand by patients for skin. While the bank has received requests from 235 patients for skin so far, it has been able to cater to only 127.

Skin donations that more than doubled from 18 in 2016, the first year of inception, to 40 in 2017 are on a declining trend since then. While there were 33 donations in 2018, the next year saw 17 donations.

After that, when the pandemic hit the State in 2020, there were just nine donations. This number doubled to 18 in 2021 and  this year so far only seven donations have happened.

This year, while January had zero donations, the next three months saw one, two, and one donations respectively followed by three donations in May.

Myths about donation

Attributing this to stigma and a lack of awareness, doctors said people are ready to donate eyes and other organs but are not convinced with donating skin as they feel it will disfigure the body.

“That is a myth as only the outer layer of the skin from the thighs and legs (1,000 to 1,500 sqcm) will be removed,” K.T. Ramesh, Head of the Department of Plastic Surgery in Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), told The Hindu.

Among the recipients, while the youngest is a four-year-old boy, the oldest is an 85-year-old male. “A 24-year-old acid attack victim, who is under treatment at St John’s Medical College Hospital, has been given donated skin thrice from our bank,” the doctor said.

At burns ward

Apart from requests from hospitals across the State, the bank has catered to several patients at the Mahabodhi burns ward in Victoria Hospital. “The burns ward gets nearly 220 admissions every month of which over 70% are serious cases. Over 20% of the total 127 grafts supplied so far have saved the lives of our patients,” Dr. Ramesh said.

“The skin bank is a boon for patients as there is no blood group matching required in skin grafting. Anyone over 18 years who does not have any skin disease or infections can donate skin,” Dr. Ramesh said.

Senior nursing officer Nagaraj B.N., who is the coordinator at the bank, said the growing demand has plummeted the storage at the bank. “Before the pandemic, we used to have a storage of around 4,000 sqcm. Now we hardly have 1,000 sqcm. Many times, families of people who have pledged do not inform us after their demise. This is mainly due to misconceptions,” he said.

Awareness plans

Before the pandemic, BMCRI had roped in Kannada film actors Prem and Kumar Bangarappa to popularise the concept of skin donation. “While the actors participated in a few awareness programmes, our skin bank team visited colleges and public functions to create awareness. Although the celebrity promotions stopped during the pandemic, general awareness programmes and social media promotions are on. We will now chalk out a plan to further intensify awareness,” Dr. Ramesh added.


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