Queensland Skin Bank
Why donate skin?
Skin grafts are the most effective way to treat people with severe burns. Ideally, these grafts will be taken from unburnt parts of the patient's own body. Unfortunately, some people do not have enough of their own skin left from this to happen. In these cases skin grafts from a donor are vital.
Skin grafting is often a 'life-saving procedure'. It is also medically recognised as a particularly effective way of minimising the scarring that can be so difficult for burn victims.
How is skin donated?
Only a very thin layer of skin is removed (less than half a millimetre) and the area left behind looks like a neat graze. Skin is only removed from areas that would not be visible if the donor is dressed: primarily the back, legs and abdomen. Only specially trained health professionals are involved in skin tissue donation.
What happens to the donated skin?
Some skin samples from the donation are tested along with a blood sample to ensure the skin is safe to transplant. Skin tissue for transplantation can be safely stored for up to 5 years.
How is the donation used?
The skin tissue donated will be surgically placed over the patient's burnt areas as 'temporary skin'. This helps reduce infection, fluid loss and pain while promoting wound healing and minimising scar information. The donor skin graft encourages the patient's own skin to grow back and remains on the patient for about two weeks, after which it is removed and replaced with either more skin grafts or the patient's own skin.
Donation can help to save the life of a person who has suffered from severe burns.
The most important thing to do is to talk to your family, partner and friends about organ and tissue donation. Let them know about your views on donation, and become aware of their views. In the event of your death, your next of kin is always the person contacted to find out what your wishes were in relation to donation. Formalise your decision by recording your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Queensland Skin Bank
Organ and Tissue Donation Service, Division of Chief Health Officer
Queensland Health Scientific Services Campus
39 Kessels Road
Coopers Plains QLD 4108
Phone: (07) 3121 2626