The Age | Kate Hagan
While deceased organ donors have more than doubled in recent years in Victoria, donors of tissue including skin, bone and cardiac valves have declined.
Most critical is the shortage of donor skin, which can be life-saving for patients with extensive and infected burns.
Director of The Alfred hospital's adult burns unit, Heather Cleland, said donor skin was used as a temporary cover for wounds in patients whose own skin could not yet be grafted because it was too damaged.
''It makes it possible for the patient to get better instead of being constantly subjected to an influx of bacteria through these open wounds,'' she said.
''We probably get six to 10 patients a year who would significantly be in need of it. The problem is that once you've got a patient who needs it, they need a lot of it.''
Donor skin was imported from the US to treat victims of Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 after local supplies were quickly exhausted.
Victoria was then home to Australia's only skin-banking facility, where skin can be stored for up to five years, but is now backed by a Queensland bank. Supply remains precarious, including from overseas. US banks have previously refused to supply skin to Australia during bushfires in California.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/doctors-warn-donor-skin-shortage-risks-lives-20120408-1wjeu.html#ixzz1rSxadKZQ