Doctors order 1.2 million sq cm of skin for victims in New Z
New Zealand has placed an order for 1.2 million sq cm of skin from the US to help treat patients who were severely burnt in the volcanic eruption on White Island on Monday.

Burns units across the country are at capacity and surgeons have been working around the clock on 30 patients severely injured by volcanic ash and gas.

“We currently have supply but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the supply for dressing and temporary skin grafts,” Counties Manukau district health board’s chief medical officer, Dr Peter Watson, told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday. “These supplies are coming from the United States, and the order has been placed.”

Some patients have received burns to 95 per cent of their bodies, while others are suffering burns to 40-50 per cent. There are also patients with significant burns to their internal organs.

Australia has donated skin and tissue banks, as well as skin grafts and supplies, but doctors are anticipating patients will need much more skin to meet their “ongoing needs”.

Peter Watson, chief medical officer of the area’s district health board, told reporters: “We currently have skin supply, but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand for dressing and temporary skin grafts.

“We anticipate that we will require an additional 1.2 million sq cm (1,292 sq ft) for the ongoing needs of the patients,” said Mr Watson.

He added that the nature of the burns suffered has been further complicated by toxic gases and chemicals in the eruption.

Skin – which organ donors can donate like any other organ after death – is vital in saving the lives of patients with major burns as it aids healing and reduces pain.

The average human body has around 11 square feet to 21 square feet of skin surface area. If left without donor skin to keep viruses and bacteria out of the body, burn patients remain at high risk of infection.

Authorities have delayed an operation to recover the rest of the victims on White Island due to an increased risk of further volcano eruptions.

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