PT: How and when did the idea of having a Skin Bank come into play?
Dr. Jokhi: The idea of starting a skin bank has been on the mind of our senior burns surgeons, Dr. Arvind Vartak and Dr. Suhas Abhyankar, for over a decade. However, more than a year back, we received a proposal from the Rotary Club of Bombay North to start a collection center as an affiliate of Euro skin banks. After discussion and deliberations with our partner Dr. Caroline Mathen, a scientist and owner of OCT therapies Pvt. Ltd., we decided to work towards establishing our own skin bank. The spirit of ‘Make in India’ has resulted in us working towards developing our own bank, which, besides being a skin bank, will also be a wound-healing research center.
PT: How will this facility help skin burn survivors?
Dr. Jokhi: Masina Hospital has played a pioneering role in the field of burns care and the Kharas memorial center has been the first dedicated burns care unit in India. The USP of this center is the development of innovative low cost techniques for burns treatment along with dedicated doctors. The need to continue this and identify means of reducing the cost of care for burns treatment continues by developing the skin bank. Typically burns injury victims are treated by surgery wherein the aim is to cover the skin loss area with partial thickness skin from unaffected areas of the patient, which is limited by the amount of skin available. Multiple surgeries are needed, however the availability of high quality skin harvested from dead bodies gives the patient early cover and reduces the morbidity, mortality and the number of surgeries and also reduces the chances of infection. All of these cumulatively reduce the pain suffering and cost of medicines for the patient. Early rehabilitation and return to function results in enormous savings in terms of loss of income on account of inability to return to work.
PT: Could you share statistics regards the need for Skin Banks and skin burn requirement in India/Bombay.
Dr. Jokhi: Burn accident victims are a tragedy in India, related to the socio-economic and gender status of the victims. Over 70 lakh patients suffer from a varying degree of burns. Of these 1.4 lac patients die. Out of every five burn victims, 4 are women and children. Although this is a rough estimate, it is extremely disturbing. However, what is a matter for concern is the absence of good primary, secondary and tertiary care for these patients even in large metros. Burns treatment is an expensive affair for both – the victim and the hospital. There is only one skin bank in Sion Hospital and another at Airoli, New Bombay. We are the first Skin Bank in South Mumbai.
PT: Can you share a bit about the medical procedure
Dr. Jokhi: There are no specific requirements in terms of sex, age or blood group. However, donors should not be suffering from any STDs, HIV, hepatitis B or C, Septicemia, skin cancer or any other skin diseases. Also donors should not have had any blood transfusion in past two years before skin donation. Skin is harvested from both the legs, both the thighs and the back. Only 1/8th portion of the skin is harvested (that is, partial thickness). This is done using an instrument called Dermatome. There will be no bleeding as such. However, there can be little secretion of body fluids which will be handled and bandaged neatly. Just the harvesting of the skin will take only 30-45 minutes. The whole procedure including harvesting, bandaging and cleaning might take up to 1-2 hours.
PT: Who is the team of doctors that will work with the Skin Bank?
Dr. Jokhi: Our team of special dedicated doctors relating to burns care are Dr. Arvind Vartak and Dr. Suhas Abhyankar along with Dr. Caroline Mathen our scientific partner.
PT: What are the other relevant path-breaking/pioneering services offered by Masina Hospital?
Dr. Jokhi: Masina hospital is shortly launching an IVF center and affordable modern rooms with the best amenities for the patients. These will offer better facilities at prices which are affordable. Shortly we are planning to start a Cardiology Department. We are also planning to start an MRI and PET scan center.
PT: What message would you like to give our community – how can those wanting to make a difference help?
Dr. Jokhi: The message to the community at large is to support the Parsi Trust charitable hospital by utilizing all its facilities. Our Laboratory is run by SRL diagnostics, which offers the best services at very affordable rates. We have a very well equipped physiotherapy department with modern equipment. A new addition in the same department is the diabetic foot clinic. We also run a neuro-pediatric department where comprehensive multimodal care is available for neurological and developmental disorders. We have an excellent Dialysis center functioning along with our CT scan center.