POLOKWANE — Burns are the third most common cause of accidental death in children under 14, surpassed only by traffic accidents and drowning.
National Burns Awareness Week runs from May 6-12 and is a time to raise awareness about the effects of burns, especially on children.
Read more: National Burns Week focuses on treating children
Stella de Kock, executive director of Transplant Education for Living Legacies (Tell), said skin grafts are the gold standard in burn treatment, to minimize scarring and promote healing.
“Young children in particular need skin grafts because a small burn or scald can cover most of their body. The main function of the skin is to retain moisture, regulate body temperature and protect the body from bacteria and other harmful elements,” she said.
Burns should be dressed to prevent dehydration and infection. By applying donor skin (allograft) to the burns, the body recognizes the skin as human tissue, considers it its own, and accepts it. An allograft of skin relieves pain and controls infection more effectively than a collagen dressing.
“Allograft skin can be harvested from the deceased donor’s torso, hips, thighs and upper calves. Donor skin can be left on the wound for up to 2 weeks without having to dress the wound during this time , which allows the body to recover. The donor skin dries out after two weeks, making it easy to remove and causing future damage or pain,” added de Kock.
The availability of the allograft and the risk of infection are the two main constraints to its regular use. Human skin allograft is an effective method of burn coverage and cannot be replaced by synthetic skin substitutes at this time.
“Have the conversation about organ and tissue donation with your loved ones today, so that when the time comes, they know your wishes and can one day save a child’s life. You can save up to eight lives through organ donation and improve the lives of up to 50 people through tissue donation. Let it be known that you want to be an organ and tissue donor someday,” de Kock said.
How you can help:
de Kock said Tell raises awareness about organ and tissue (skin) donation and is always looking for funds for various projects.
“If you would like to donate and help spread more joy to children in need of skin or organ transplants, please use the bank details below to purchase a Zane educational plush which costs R250.”
Name: Transplant Education for Living Bequests NPO
Bank: First National Bank (FNB)
Account type: Check
Account number: 62818725775
Agency code: 250655
Donations can also be made through Yoco.