Burn Awareness Week: How Skin Grafts Provide Hope and Healing

Published February 6, 2024 in Blog

Each February, the American Burn Association celebrates Burn Awareness Week to educate the community about common types of burns and the best ways to prevent them. In years past, themes of Burn Awareness Week have included electrical injury, scalds, and cooking burns. In 2024, flammable liquid burns are the focal point of Burn Awareness Week.

The American Burn Association encourages people to consider these tips to prevent serious injury or death from flammable liquid burns: 

  • Never use an accelerant such as gasoline, kerosene, or aerosol sprays to start a campfire.
  • Only fuel snowblowers, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and weed eaters when the engine is cool, and only do so in an open area outdoors.
  • When purchasing a gas can, make sure it has a fuel arrestor on the can to prevent flashback.


How skin grafts are used for burn victims

When accidents happen, modern medicine is well-equipped to treat even serious burns with a variety of treatments. Most minor burns can be treated at home. However, more severe burns require hospitalization and in some cases, a skin graft. 

A skin graft is a surgical procedure that replaces skin that has been damaged too severely to heal itself. Burns, infections, and surgeries to remove cancer are some of the reasons patients may require skin grafts. In some cases, the skin graft is taken from the patient’s own body; this is called an autograft. In other cases, an allograft is used; this is donated skin from a donor hero who has opted to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor and can be used for a potentially life-saving skin graft. 

Several types of skin grafts are used to help burn patients. Temporary grafts can cover a wound until a burn heals, or until the patient has enough healthy skin for a graft to another part of their body. Some burns require more permanent burn wound treatments.


Tissue donations have a higher chance of success for skin grafts

Whenever possible, human tissue is used for skin grafts because it has a higher chance of success than synthetic grafts. For this reason, tissue donors play a crucial role in saving the lives of serious burn patients.

Louise Matalonis Baer’s husband was one such donor. Baer lost her husband, Tony in 2014, to whom she had been married 27 years. Now a Mid-America Transplant volunteer, Baer says her husband “was the life of the party and lived with gusto.” 

Because Baer’s husband had opted to be an organ and tissue donor, she learned through a letter from Mid-America Transplant that he was able to help “a lot of burn victims,” as well as many others. 

“The letter was amazing,” she said. “Although it was hard to read, it felt so good that he helped all of these people.”


Tissue donations save lives, become a donor today

Every year, tissue transplants provide lifesaving and healing hope to tens of thousands of people suffering from disease, injury, trauma, or blindness. One tissue donor can restore health and provide healing to more than 75 people, and unlike organs, donated tissues can be stored for an extended period of time.

By registering as an organ, eye, and tissue donor, you can leave a legacy of hope and healing. Register today and bring hope to patients and families waiting for a miracle.