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News Middle East & Africa

The doctors successfully performed the surgery. (Photo: vhpfoto/Shutterstock)
Jun 27, 2012 | News Middle East & Africa

Toddler undergoes complex skin transplant surgery

by Surgical Tribune

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: A three-year-old girl from South Africa, who suffered severe burns after a container of fire lighting fluid exploded on New Year’s Eve, has successfully undergone a rare and complex skin transplant surgery operation. It was the first time the procedure was performed in Africa. In the surgery, Isabella Kruger, who had 80 per cent of her body burned, was given a new layer of skin.

As reported by FOX News, Dr Ridwan Mia, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, did not have much hope for the child’s survival when he met her in January. “She had swelled to three times her size from her injuries,” he explained.

During several months in the hospital, Isabella battled pneumonia and kidney failure, and suffered several cardiac arrests, but was eventually stabilised for the transplant surgery. Mia and his team, who performed the surgery, had created new skin by cloning two samples of skin taken from the toddler’s body that were not burned owing to a diaper she was wearing at the time of the accident. Samples were sent to a US laboratory, where the skin was cloned using mouse cells as a scaffold—a procedure used often in the US and Europe but rarely in Africa.

For the surgery, the doctors stapled the skin in pieces onto Isabella’s wounds, according to FOX News. On her face, doctors used an absorbable suture material instead of staples.

Thirty to forty grafts of Isabella’s new skin arrived in Johannesburg just before the girl’s operation. The skin needed to be grafted onto Isabella within 24 hours of leaving the laboratory.

“It was like clockwork the way the skin arrived on time,” Mia was quoted in the article.

Isabella will be wrapped in foam and protective dressing for the next seven days. Her body is in constant danger of infection or rejection of the skin.

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