We often hear about the importance of organ donation … but less about the donation of tissues. And yet, for every person who donates tissue at death, another 20 will see their quality of life greatly improved. This is especially true for victims of burns, for which skin transplantation is necessary. In the past year, the University Hospital Center in Montreal (CHUM) and Hem-Quebec, acting as a human tissue supplier, reviewed their procedures that led to donation of tissues, which allowed a dramatic increase in the number of potential donors.
"The donation of tissue saved my life," said Simon Besset.
The 35-year-old suffered serious burns at 52 percent of his body after an electric shock seven years ago, making an "urban climb" (a sport that involves climbing in the air). urban architecture). He climbed too high in the pilot and was struck by an electric arc.
When a person is badly burnt to more than half of the surface of the body, they often need foreign skin grafts – from dead people – the so-called "homographs". These homographs serve as biological dressings (to cover the wounds after removing severely burnt skin) and will fall in a few weeks. The burned person will then have to go through other operations with his own skin, which will be regenerated.
"Only during the first month, I had about fifty operations," explains Simon Besset.
When you sign your back on your health insurance card (see here to indicate your consent), you agree not only with your organs to be removed at death (if possible), but your tissues. It could be tissues of the eyes, heart valves, arterial tissue, musculoskeletal tissue, or skin (tissue) of the skin. It is therefore important to sign your card, but also to inform your relatives, so they are aware of your wishes.
Hema-Quebec is responsible for taking tissue (such as the skin) and then freezing at -80 degrees Celsius. The grafts are then defrosted before the operation, when the person needs it.
"This is the dimension of our mission that is largely unknown to the population," said Vanessa Jourdain, a spokeswoman for Hem-Quebec.
But for Hem-Quebec to get these potential donors, hospitals must inform them. This is called a recommendation. Since last May, the steps between CHUM (which includes one of the two specialized death squads in Quebec) and Hema-Quebec have been centralized at the CUM death management office. The employees who worked there have received specific training and can better identify potential donors and make more recommendations for Hemma-Quebec. In one year, the number of potential applications has increased by 182%. Hema-Quebec hopes this initiative will inspire other hospitals.
Simon Besset was hospitalized for three months in the crowd before he spent two months at the rehabilitation center. Then he had to continue with rehabilitation, occupational therapy and physiotherapy for two years. His left hand is no longer functioning, but his right hand is rebuilt: his thumb is amputated and replaced with his little finger.
"Good dexterity is still an important issue, but I have no problem in everyday life!" He says.
Today, he studies agronomy at Laval University and practices more sports. He is extremely grateful to all those who helped him, especially the people who donated the tissues.
"I think about it almost every day, those people who saved me, the donors and the medical team. Whenever I go outside, enjoy the moment, I mean it. My gratitude is infinite."
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