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Karnataka gets its first skin bank

Bengaluru: Burns patients can now pin their hopes on a skin bank at Victoria Hospital, the first the state. The bank will open on Wednesday , when the medical fraternity observes Plastic Surgery Day .

It works like an eye bank.The skin bank team goes to a donor's house when it receives word that he has passed away, and harvests the skin within six hours of death. The procedure lasts 30 minutes. Skin taken from the thighs can enhance quality of life for those suffering with 50%-60% burns. The burns ward of Victoria Hospital, which gets 10-15 cases daily, mooted establishing a skin bank on its premises to help patients undergo plastic surgery, enable faster healing and help them handle the trauma of disfigured skin.

T he bank will create awareness about skin donation. Cadaver skin will be preserved in sub-zero temperature at the bank.

"In the absence of a skin bank, we use the healthy skin of a burns patient, graft it and re-use it in plastic surgery. This leads to delay in recovery. The skin bank is a boon for patients as there is no blood group matching required in skin grafting. Anyone over 18 years can donate skin," says Dr Sunil Kumar, plastic surgeon, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI).

Currently, there are skin banks in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai , says Dr K T Ramesh, head of the department of plastic surgery and bur ns, BMRCI, who will head the local bank. "However, under certain circumstances, a skin bank can reject the donation. The skin of persons suffering from AIDS, hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted diseases, skin cancer, active skin diseases and septicemia are considered unfit for donation," he adds.

The patient's body rejects the artificially grafted cadaver skin within 4-6 weeks, but within that time, the patient's protein, fluid loss and infection decreases. Then, the patient's own skin can be grafted for plastic surgery, says Dr Ramesh.

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