May 28, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Skin and tissue donations can save hundreds of children a year who die from burns in SA

Nearly 230 children die from burns in South Africa each year.

This is according to the organization Transplant Education for Living Legacies (Tell), which uses National Burn Awareness Week (6-12 May). to raise awareness of the impact burns have in SA, but especially on children.

They also take the opportunity to raise awareness about organ, tissue and skin donation.

Skin grafts, or allografts, are the best method of treating burns and there are no synthetic skin substitutes.

Explain to MD Stella de Kock that burns are the third leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of 14, following car accidents and drownings.

“Nearly 230 children die from burns in South Africa every year. These deaths occur because of the severity of the burns, but more so because patients lack effective, affordable synthetic treatment options.”

There are 23 burn units in South Africa that can provide acute emergency care, with one limited number providing comprehensive care.

Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital are the country’s premier burns departments. According to Tell, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital treats about 3,500 children for burns each year. Approximately 1,300 of these are serious.

An overwhelming 98% of children treated for burns are from disadvantaged communities.

According to the Organ Donor Foundation (ODF), burn victims without donor skin “often experience excruciating injuries while standing facing certain death.”

ODF says uncontrolled steppe and cottage fires, hot water and chemical burns are the leading causes of life-threatening burns.

“Skin grafting is medically recognized as the most effective method to minimize scarring and promote healing of severe burns,” according to the ODF Tissue Bank report.

“Children are particularly in need of skin grafts as small burns or scalds can cover most of their body. and these skin grafts can be life-saving.

“A patient with burns and severe burns may need repeat skin grafts from numerous donors before their burns heal adequately.

The foundation reports that when skin when donated, only a very thin layer – much like tissue paper – is removed and the area it is taken from looks like a ligh of abrasions.

According to De Kock, children’s skin is thinner than that of adults as it is still developing. Their skin also burns at lower temperatures and deeper, meaning their injuries are often more serious and their burns have long-term consequences.

Tell says there are between 300,000 and 17.5 in sub-Saharan Africa Millions of children under the age of five suffer burn injuries annually, with burns being the second leading external cause of death in the Region.

“There is overwhelming evidence that these injuries are largely environmental and therefore preventable.”

Skin grafts are used to minimize scarring and promote healing.

The graft retains moisture and helps regulate body temperature, it also helps protect the body from bacteria and other harmful elements protect .

“Burn wounds must be dressed to prevent dehydration and infection. By applying donor skin [an allograft] to burn wounds, the body recognizes the skin as human tissue and considers it the patient’s own and accepts it.

“A skin allograft reduces pain and controls infection more effectively than a collagen dressing.”

The skin allograft can be harvested from the torso, hips, thighs and upper calves of a deceased donor and the graft can be left in place for up to two weeks without the need for treatment of the wound during this time, which allows the body to recover.

“The donor skin dries up after two weeks and is easily removed.”

Tell’s tips to avoid burns and scalds:< /p>

  • Create a child-safe area in your home.
  • Keep hot items out of the reach of children.
  • Teach older children how to sure cooks.
  • Check the bath water temperature.
  • Watch children near fireplaces.
  • Do not hold your child while working in the kitchen.

In South Africa, the availability of skin grafts is a major barrier factor.

According to the ODF, it is important that by the time relatives know if you wish to donate organs and tissues.< /p>

The ODF encourages donors to put themselves on the donor list, but simply registering as an organ or tissue donor is not enough. Ultimately, it is family members who are asked about the possibility of a donation, which cannot take place without their consent.

The ODF says many donor requests are not approved because family members may not know their loved one one donor.

One donor can save the lives of eight people with one organ donation and improve the lives of up to 50 people with one tissue donation.

ODF reports About 5,000 Adults and children await life-saving organ and corneal transplants.

The Tell organization works to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation and, as their acronym suggests, encourage donors to do the same to tell loved ones and those around them that they are donors. This is when their wishes become known.

Support independent journalism by subscribing to The Sunday Times. Only 20 R for the first month.