Thu, Oct 06, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Formosa Fun Coast disaster driving skin donations

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

An explosion and the ensuing inferno at Formosa Fun Coast (八仙海岸) last year has encouraged more people to donate skin, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

The incident, which occurred during a “Color Play Asia” event at the water park on June 27 led to the deaths of 15 people while 508 were injured, of whom more than 200 were seriously burned.

Tai Hao-chih (戴浩志), director of the national skin bank and director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s (NTUH) plastic surgery department, said that donations of skin from cadavers have doubled since the disaster.

“There used to be only one or two donations per month, but they have increased to about two to four every month,” he said, adding that the average size of donated skin is about 4,000cm2 to 6,000cm2.

The agency said that, as of August, there are 106 government-approved human tissue banks nationwide, nearly 80 percent of which are in hospitals, and about 60 percent mainly preserve bones, ligaments and tendons.

The national skin bank, one of the nation’s 15 tissue banks that preserve skin from human cadavers, was established by the Ministry of Health and Welfare after the Formosa Fun Coast disaster and is operated by NTUH and two other hospitals.

Many people are afraid of skin donation, as they fear it would destroy the body’s appearance, but skin is harvested from the back and thighs, areas covered by clothing, Tai said, adding that only the epidermis is removed, resulting in little difference in skin color.

While more people are now open to the idea of skin donation in the wake of the inferno, the national skin bank is encouraging more people to donate, he said, adding that it hopes to increase donations from an average of 40 to about 300 per year.

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