Doctors in Mumbai are trying to popularise the concept of skin-donations at special skin-banks.
Skin donations are made at skin banks, and the tissue is used for burn victims, particularly for those patients who have sustained more than 40 percent burn injuries.
Dr Madhuri Gore, Head of Department of Surgery at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital said that a skin bank works on the same principles as any bank.
"I am sure everyone wants to know what exactly is a skin bank. I must say that skin bank is just like any other bank. We keep money in the bank. The purpose is that we can use it whenever we need it and same is the purpose of skin bank; that's where we are storing skin in the bank and we use it on the patient, whenever the patient needs it. It is a very basic and simple principle," said Dr Gore.
Skin donation is usually made by a simple procedure of grafting a thin outer layer of skin, called epidermis, from the thigh and back of a donor, and preserving it in an ultra-cool storage system.
India has only two skin banks, both of which are located in Mumbai - the Lokmanya Tilak Hospital, which is aided by Mumbai's Municipal Corporation, and the National Burns Centre, which works in collaboration with Euro Skin Bank of Amsterdam.
The National Burns Centre is the first city-based skin bank, which stores tissues for up to three years. Once these preserved layers of skin are grafted onto the affected areas of a burn victim's body, they facilitate faster healing, usually within 14 days.
Dr S. M. Keshwani of National Burns Centre said: "People are not donating because they don't want to donate. They are not aware that skin donation is possible. Donate skin and save life is the motto and slogan that we are trying to promote. Good donation is to donate life, that we are trying to promote through National Burns Centre, through Burns Association of India and through various NGOs, Rotary (Club), and all who are helping us out in creating awareness about skin donation."
Lack of awareness is the major hurdle in skin donation. To counter that, the National Burns Centre is planning to undertake a massive awareness campaign in the city.
Every year, roughly over 1,000 severely burnt patients require skin treatment. However, both National Burns Centre and the skin bank at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (LTMG) get a meagre 10 donors in a year.