New Zealand Imports Enough Skin To Cover Nearly 200 People After Volcano Disaster
New Zealand has ordered 393 square metres of skin to treat patients injured in the volcanic eruption on White Island.
At least 20 people are still in hospital, many receiving treatment for severe burns. Eight people have been confirmed dead by authorities and a further nine are still unaccounted for.
Skin is now needed to treat patients who were burned by the ash and smoke when the volcano exploded on Monday. Stuff NZ reports most victims have suffered burns to at least 30 percent of their bodies, with some having up to 95 percent of their body injured by the ash.
Peoples' burns are reportedly being sealed with 'industrial strength' cling wrap to prevent fluid leaving their bodies, so they have the best chance of survival.
The acids involved in the eruption make treating the burns more complicated than an average case, New Zealand's health authorities revealed on Wednesday.
Every burns unit in New Zealand is currently at capacity, according to the District Health Boards' Peter Watson, prompting authorities to ask for international support.
"We currently have (skin) supply, but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand for dressing and temporary skin grafts," Watson said on Wednesday.
"We anticipate we will require an additional 1.2 million square centimeters of skin for the ongoing needs of the patients."
The average adult human has between one and two square metres of skin, meaning New Zealand's order of 393 square metres (1.2 million square centimeters) is enough to cover nearly 200 bodies.
Watson said the skin will come primarily from the United States, as well as Australia, including the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria (DTBV).
Ten Australian victims will be flown across the Tasman on Thursday to receive treatment, easing pressure on New Zealand hospitals.
Skin grafts come from people who register to donate their skin after death --similar to organ or tissue donors. Donated skin is usually taken from the donor's back or back of their legs. Only a thin later is taken, equivalent to the thickness of skin that might peel after sunburn. A donations need to take place 24-48 hours after death.
In light of the volcano disaster, DTBV is urging Australians to consider becoming a skin donor.
"The DTBV have assisted the victims of the White Island Volcano eruption by providing skin grafts to those affected. This wouldn’t be possible without the generous gift of skin donation," the Bank said on its Facebook page.
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