Stanley only govt hospital in TN with a specialised skin bank

The cryofreezer where the skin is stored at minus 4 degree Celsius at Stanley Government College and Hospital.

Chennai: The State may be known for leading in organ donation, but it is yet to make a mark in skin donation. Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Washermanpet is the first and only government hospital in Tamilnadu that has a skin bank. Initiated in 2016, doctors from the institution urge people to voluntarily donate skin.

“From inception till date, 44 patients have donated skin and it has been utilised for treating 16 patients,” informed Stanley Medical College and Hospital Professor and Head – Cosmetology, Dr Mani Megalai.

Skin found in the regions of the back and thighs are harvested from ‘brain dead’ patients with the support of their family members. “It is of tremendous use to people suffering from burns, Vasculitis, diabetic ulcers and leprosy ulcers,” explained the cosmetologist.

After using the donated skin for covering the ulcer / wound, it sheds in about 15-20 days and regenerates fresh cells to form the membrane. Leaving the scar open for a longer time leads to infection and healing gets delayed. “Usually, collagen dressing is used for such complaints and using donated skin brings the cost down and also helps in healing quickly,” she added.

The skin is not transplanted or grafted at Stanley but the preserved skin is used for treating ulcers, said the doctor.
Explaining the process, Dr Mani Megalai said, ‘Soon after other organs are harvested, the skin is stretched and removed with an instrument called ‘dermatone’, transported in glycerol, placed in shaking incubator for purifying and is stored in cryofreezer for minus 4 degree Celsius.’

As per the data from Transplant Authority of Tamilnadu (TRANSTAN), it is stated that only 25 skin donations have been received in 2018 and from 2008, only 109 donations have been registered.

The doctor further stated that a lot of families hesitate to donate skin due to emotional and religious reasons. “If people approve, we cover the patient with bandage after harvesting. There has not been enough awareness about skin donation in particular and people should step forward to donate their skin.”

Persons aged above 18 and below 60 are eligible for skin donation and Stanley hospital stores the harvested skin for up to five years. Within six hours of the patient declared to be dead, the skin is taken. The doctors screen for HIV, other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and HBsAg (hepatitis B infection) and is unaccepted if the patient is found to be positive for any of these conditions.


Bhavani Prabhakar