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Myths and Facts about Skin Donation

Myth 1: My skin can be donated when I am alive.
Fact: Skin tissue is not donated while you’re alive. In Singapore, skin donation can only be carried out after one has passed away.

Myth 2: If I decide to donate my skin after I pass away, my body will be skinless and appear red and bloody after the donation. An open casket funeral is not possible for a skin donor.

Fact: Not true. The layer of skin that is recovered is less than half a millimeter thin. After donation, 85% of your skin depth will still be present.

The skin tone at the donor sites will not be red and appears as a paler shade compared to the outer layer of your skin. There is also hardly any bleeding as there is no more blood circulation in the body. Skin is recovered from areas such as your back, thighs or leg areas, which can be covered by clothing. In other words, after skin donation, you will still be able to have an open casket funeral if desired.

Myth 3: I am old and my skin is wrinkled. My skin will not be suitable to be donated eventually.

Fact: The function and biological capacity of our skin should not be underestimated. It continually protects us from the environment and shields us from daily pathogens that would otherwise easily invade us and cause us to fall sick.

Every pledge made goes a long way in giving a chance for severe burn victims to receive a potentially life-saving skin graft. Before tissue donation proceeds, the donor is assessed adequately for suitability. In deciding whether to be a pledger, the appearance of one’s skin should not serve as a limiting factor.

Myth 4: Skin donation is already covered under the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA).

Fact: HOTA allows for only the kidneys, liver, heart and corneas to be recovered in the event of death for the purpose of transplantation. Any other organs or tissues like the skin are not covered under HOTA, and requires a person to make a pledge under the Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act if they wish to donate upon death.

Please refer to Be a Skin Donor for more information.

Myth 5: Becoming a skin pledger will cause distress to my family.

Fact: Whatever your decision and thoughts may be – it is advisable that you discuss with your family members and/or closed ones. Your family members will then be aware of what your decision and wishes. In an unexpected event that results in death, it eliminates the need for your family to make the decision on your behalf.

In the event of your passing on, your family members may be approached with after-life decisions pertaining to donation. If your family members are unsure whether you would have liked to donate, it may potentially cause them more distress.

Myth 6: Dotors won't save me if I am a tissue donor.

Fact: If you are ill, all medical professionals will give you the best possible care and do everything they can to save your life.