2000 Photo Contest, Science & Technology, 3rd prize

Raphaël Gaillarde


01 January, 1999

Bandages are removed for an initial assessment nine days after a skin transplant. Doctors in a highly specialized Emergency Burns Unit carry out a new treatment for severe burns that involves grafting skin grown in a laboratory from the patient's own cells. Transplants of skin from another person result in rejection. Even patients with 90 percent burns usually have small patches of healthy tissue, such as between the toes. This skin is sent to a laboratory in Boston, US, where cells capable of quick reproduction are cultivated, and in less than three weeks grow into a piece of skin 10,000 times the size of the original sample. This can survive for only 24 hours outside the lab, so must be rushed to the hospital. At the hospital patients have to be kept in exceptionally sterile conditions, as the body has lost its protective layer.

About the photographer

Raphaël Gaillarde

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