A team of doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in South Africa has developed a homegrown skin grafting technique using the patient's own skin. The technique is intended to help thousands of victims with burned skin because of its cost-effectiveness and life-saving properties.
The “autograft” culture transplant developed by the doctors is being described as “bold and innovative breakthrough by provincial health authorities.” The team recently used the novel technique on two severely burned patients.
The lead physician, Dr. Wayne Kleintjes, explained that although the technique developed by his team is similar to other existing techniques for skin graft, it differs in the culture method used to develop the artificial skin. Adding on to the unique culture method, the technique claims to be inexpensive, simple and biologically safe.
16-year-old Niels -- one of the patients on whom the new skin grafting technique was performed -- was left bedridden after being badly burned in a bombing incident. He had low chances of survival, until the team decided to graft the cultivated skin on his body using the new technique.
“We borrowed two incubators and harvested a skin biopsy of 3cm x 7cm from his hip,” said Kleintjes, in a statement. According to Kleintjes, the skin was cultured in a number of sessions, with each session taking around two weeks. After the skin graft, Neils was transferred from the intensive care just two weeks later.
The skin grafted using the new technique is less likely to be rejected by the recipient's body, because it is developed from a piece is tissue taken from the patient's body itself. Other skin grafting techniques include allograft and xenograft, where the skin is either taken from another human donor or from another species. However, the chances of rejection are high.