Skin Donation FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why are we promoting skin/tissue donation?

There is currently no donor skin available in South Africa and a critical shortage of other tissue.

When does a person donate their skin/tissue?

A person donates their skin/tissue after their death.

Who can donate their skin/tissue?

Anyone can donate their skin/tissue, regardless of gender,age or blood group.

What if I am already an organ donor?

We recommend you sign up for both, as the circumstances surrounding your death are different in each case.

Furthermore we are all working towards the same goals of raising awareness of organ and tissue donation in South Africa.

Is it necessary to transport the deceased to a hospital after death?

No, the tissue bank team will come to the donors funeral parlour.

How long after death can the skin be harvested?

There is a window of 24 hours in which the skin needs to harvested and transported to the tissue bank.

Who does the skin/tissue harvesting?

A trained skin/tissue donation team does the harvesting.

Is consent taken before the skin/tissue harvesting procedure?

Yes, a tissue/transplant co-ordinator will take consent from the next of kin and a witness will be required to sign the consent form. The procedure will be explained to the next of kin before the procedure is done on the donor.

How is the skin harvested?

The skin is harvested using a special instrument called a Dermatome, which is used exclusively to harvest skin.

From which part of the body is skin harvested?

Skin is harvested from both of the legs and arms, thighs and back.

Is the entire thickness of the skin harvested?

No, just the uppermost layer of the skin is harvested.

Is there any bleeding or disfigurement to the body?

No, there is no bleeding or disfigurement to the body and the sites where skin has been harvested are bandaged.

Are there any exclusions which don’t allow harvested skin to be used?

Yes, the skin of persons with HIV, Hepatitis B & C, skin cancer and active skin disease and septicemia are considered unfit for donation. At the time of skin harvesting a blood sample is taken from the donor and the necessary tests are carried out.

What about diabetes and hypertension?

Donors with these conditions are able to donate their skin.

How will the donation of skin be used?

After the skin is harvested it is evaluated, preserved and stored and then supplied to the Burn Surgeon for transplanting on burn patients.

How is the skin preserved?

The skin is preserved in 85% glycerol solution and is stored between 4-5 degree Celsius and can be stored for a period of 2 years.

Is there payment required to the Skin/Tissue Donation team?

No, there is no payment required. Selling and buying organs is illegal.

Do we need to produce any documents to the Skin/Tissue Donation team when they arrive?

Yes, you will need to produce the Death Certificate and its photocopy before the team can go ahead with the procedure.

Is there any Donor – Recipient matching required for skin transplant?

No, there is no blood, colour or age matching necessary as the skin is temporary dressing. Once all testing is done and is negative , the skin can be used freely on any recipient.

Who do we call if we want to donate skin/tissue?

There is a team on 24 hour call and the number to call is:
CTE 082 325 3448