In case of burns, skin which is the primary protective barrier of the body is destroyed and the body is exposed to infectious agents. If the burnt area is not immediately covered with skin grafts or some skin substitutes, then patients are prone to infection, fluid loss and ultimately multi organ failure and death. In case of smaller percentage of burns (lesser total body surface area burnt), skin from the un-burnt area of the patient is taken out and grafted on the burn wound to cover it. But when burns percentage is more than 40% then the patient’s own skin is many times not available to adequately cover the burn wound. In that case we need some skin substitutes.
It is said that skin is the best substitute for skin. Thus, Skin donated after death also called cadaveric skin ,is the best and cheapest substitute compared to artificial skin substitutes. Such skin is a temporary dressing but it helps in patient’s own skin to regenerate. A good majority of such patients can be saved if we have enough skin in skin bank. By skin donation. a person can donate one’s skin after death to save someone else’s life. There are two types of skin grafts: Autograft,which is healthy skin from the burn victim is excised in a split-thickness fashion to be used as a mesh like covering over the burn wound. Allograft, which is skin from a cadaver donor is used as a temporary measure until the person's own skin can grow.
Allograft, cadaver skin or homograft is human cadaver skin donated for medical use. Cadaver skin is used as a temporary covering for cleaned wound surfaces before autograft (permanent) placement.The good results achieved by treating extensive thermal burns with skin allografts have led to the development of effective long time preservation methods. Donated human skin is Preserved initially in 50% glycerol .All pieces of skin are checked and preserved in sterile vials containing 85% glycerol.These sealed vials are then stored in at 4°C to 8°C for up to 5 years. Donated skin is primarily used to treat burn victims or people with serious skin injuries. It helps in early healing and prevention of post burn deformities.We have access to cadaveric skin from skin banks and it can be now used to help our patients.