Skin Donation FAQ
- How can I learn about tissue donation?
An excellent resource to learn all about organ and tissue donation is from an Internet site called: http://www.Transweb.org/.
- I recently lost a great deal of weight and I have a lots of excess skin. Can I donate my excess skin to a skin bank to help burn patients? Will a tissue bank pay for my skin reduction surgery if I agree to donate my tissue?
These questions are asked quite often by individuals who have lost large amounts of weight and have excess skin folds. We appreciate your desire to donate, however, this kind of donation is unworkable. Allow me to explain why:
Our center does not obtain skin from these patients for several reasons. First, this method of obtaining skin is cost prohibitive. The amount of transplantable tissue obtained from tissue reduction surgery is minimal when compared to the amount of tissue obtained from a cadaveric (deceased) tissue donor. The procurement costs would be much greater as it would require the services of doctors, nurses, anesthetists, and other health care professionals as well as the use of an operating room and other hospital services. Cadaveric donation requires only trained tissue recovery technicians, and they can procure tissue after the body has been sent to the morgue (rather than in an operating room), thus keeping expenses to a minimum.
Additionally, cadaveric donated tissue can be used for transplant soon after recovery (as soon as quality assurance testing is complete), however, the FDA requires that tissues recovered from living donors must be placed into quarantine for six months. At the end of six months, all serologic testing (HIV and Hepatitis) of the donor must be repeated before that tissue can be used.
It is extremely difficult to obtain a skin graft from tissue than has been removed during tissue reduction surgery. The usual procedure for tissue reduction surgery involves the removal of skin and underlying attached tissues, often several centimeters. Skin grafts used for transplant (burn patients) are only 15/1000 (0.015) of an inch thick and do not include these underlying tissues. Skin grafts for transplant are obtained by the use of a surgical device called a dermatome, which peels off a very thin (0.015 inch) uniform layer of skin.
I do not know of any tissue bank that would pay for a donor's tissue reduction surgical expenses for the purpose of obtaining skin for transplantation. If you are interested in donating your tissues upon your death I would encourage you to share this information with your family. Your gift can save lives and greatly reduce suffering.
- Can I donate a small piece of skin in exchange for money?
No. Our center does not obtain tissues from paid donors. In fact, the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and Federal regulations prohibit monetary inducement for donation.