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Indian Army Launches First Skin Bank for Advanced Care of Personnel and Families

The Indian Army on June 18, announced the opening of a state-of-the-art skin bank facility at the Army Hospital (Research & Referral). The facility offers the latest modern treatment for severe burn injuries received by armed forces personnel and their families.

Three kinds of patient

This will be the first of its kind to be established within the Armed Forces Medical Services to cater to the three kinds of patients the Army hospitals see: injuries from domestic fire accidents, electrical incidents, and kerosene warmers jawans and officers use to keep themselves warm at high altitudes. Private skin banks have existed for a long time in many parts of the country. The armed forces, however, find it difficult to source skin from them when recipients need it. “The new skin bank will serve as a centralised hub for the collection, processing, storage, and distribution of skin grafts, providing a critical resource for military medical centers across the country. By establishing this facility, the Armed Forces are ensuring that the personnel & their families have access to the most advanced skin replacement therapies. The skin bank will be staffed by highly-trained medical professionals, including plastic surgeons, tissue engineers, and specialised technicians. The MoD stated that the facility will adhere to the highest quality control and safety standards, ensuring the integrity and reliability of the skin grafts.

Quality care

DGMS(Army) & Colonel Commandant Lt. General Arindam Chatterjee termed the launch of the skin bank as a testament to the unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of service members as it would enhance the quality of care. “By having a dedicated resource for skin tissue, we can provide our patients with the most effective and personalised treatments, ultimately improving their chances of recovery and rehabilitation,” said Commandant of Army Hospital (R&R), Lt Gen Ajith Nilakantan.

Skin bank

The skin bank (New Delhi) now completes the organ donation programme the Army is pushing to save the lives of its soldiers and their families. The Army Hospital (R&R) already has a set of skin, donated on May 29, in its bank. A doctor explained that only a few millimetres from the top layer, not the entire skin, is scalped through an instrument, ‘electrical dermatomes’. To keep the sensitivity of family members of organ donors, the Army doctors take out skin only from the lower limbs and back and leave hands and other portions of the dead to avoid the body getting mutilated. The skin is then immersed in 85% glycerol solution and kept in a certain desired temperature in a refrigerator so that it’s alive for grafting or transplant, Army hospital sources pointed out.

More awareness of skin donation

The Army believes that more awareness of skin donation must be created in the country to bridge the demand and supply gap. People are willing to donate their organs, but not skin, due to fear that it would mutilate the body, informed hospital sources. The processing takes three to four weeks since the skin has to clear certain tests to ascertain, among others, that it is culture and fungal-negative. Any skin can be used on anybody, and within two to three weeks post-transplant or grafting, the doctors can make out whether the patient is accepting it or not, said doctors.


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