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Burns - skin grafts

Colour-enhanced electron micrograph of a meshed skin graft over a burn, 2005.

Colour-enhanced electron micrograph of a meshed skin graft over a burn, 2005.

Credits:David Gregory&Debbie Marshall, Wellcome Images

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It insulates and protects you and also helps to regulate your temperature. So when skin is damaged by burns, the impact of the destruction affects the whole body.

By 1871 doctors were using skin grafts to treat burns. However, the recipient’s immune system invariably rejected the donated skin and it was not until the 1940s that Peter Medawar was able to explain what was happening.

In the 1940s refrigerated skin was used as a temporary dressing for burns patients. In the late 1900s skin from cadavers was used to cover large burns. As a biological dressing, cadaver skin performed the same function as original skin, protecting the body and preventing infection.

Related Objects

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Related links

Bibliography

A R Herman, `The History of Skin Grafts', Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 1/3 (2002), pp 298-301

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