Enter the burns unit of a hospital and the sight of people hiding their faces and bodies is bound to leave a deep, distressing psychological impact. Despite medical advancements that can transform people’s appearances, the huge costs of plastic surgery confine such a procedure to the dreams of most Pakistanis.
As a result, thousands of people continue to live with burnt marks on their bodies and some even lose their lives. However, there is finally a ray of hope for burn patients in Pakistan after local doctors and scientists have announced that they are ready to prepare biological or artificial skin on a large scale at a private laboratory.
To achieve this breakthrough, an agreement has been reached between the University of Health Sciences and the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA). Earlier imported for $900 (or Rs127, 440) per inch, artificial human skin will now be available at Rs1,000 and will be widely used to save the lives of people – even those with over 70% of their bodies burnt.
The biological replacement of human skin was first prepared in Pakistan at a local level in 2015, however, it was on an experimental basis. At present, scientists are in a position to produce artificial skin on a large scale.
Speaking about the matter, University of Health Science (UHS) Vice Chancellor Professor Javed Ikram said various infections, the release of water from the cells and rapid excretion of minerals from the body, among other conditions, can result in the death of most burnt patients. “Mortality rate among patients with more than 70% of their bodies burnt is 90%,” Dr Ikram explained. “However, with the large-scale production of the biological human skin, surgeons will be able to reduce the burns to 20% and allow patients to live longer.” Dr Ikram added that up until now, artificial skin was not being prepared in Pakistan because of which it had to be imported. “Imported skin was naturally costlier and, consequently, out of the reach of most patients – especially those who hailed from moderate backgrounds”.
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