Originally created 08/17/00

Donor program gives burn victims hope



Fresh skin means survival and recovery for people who suffer catastrophic burns. With a fresh skin donor program launched by the National Tissue Bank-Georgia Tissue Bank, chances are better than ever.

The program was established when the tissue banks recognized a need for donated skin among burn victims, said Karen Baker, director of donor services for the Georgia Tissue Bank. The donated skin - freshly taken from cadavers - will be provided to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.

Daniel Jenkins, a 14-year-old patient at the center, suffered burns over 57 percent of his body after he was nearly electrocuted at a power plant in North Carolina. His mother, Cornelia Jenkins, says the fresh skin was instrumental in saving his life.

"Without the skin donation, I don't think I'd have my son," Ms. Jenkins said Wednesday. "He is fighting an infection now, but I know he'll do just fine."

Ensuring recoveries is the mission of the program for everyone involved, Dr. Joseph M. Still said.

"Fresh skin is the key to preventing infection, which will ultimately save lives," he said.

When fresh skin is unavailable, doctors have the choice of pig skin, frozen cadaver skin or bio-engineered skin. Fresh skin from tissue donors is the most effective resource for temporary wound closure, Dr. Still said.

Other affiliates of the program are the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation and the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation. The organizations pledged to create greater awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation.

"We are happy to support programs that help more people become burn survivors rather than burn fatalities," said Jerry Newman, of the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation. "Our mission is to help spread the word to firefighters and people in Georgia that this is the way to save lives."