ONCE CALLED the Skin Bank of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, the UTMB Tissue Bank, as it is now known, collects more than just skin. For the last 2 years, it has been in the business of recycling human bone and has just begun the harvesting of human heart valves and saphenous veins (for coronary artery bypass surgery).
The UTMB tissue bank, one of more than 30 nationwide that harvests skin from cadaver donors, began operating 9 years ago. By 1989, it was responsible for procuring approximately 25% of all the donor skin used to treat burn patients in the United States, says Mary G. Hodges, RN, the bank's acting technical director.
In addition to procuring skin from 298 donors in 1990, the bank obtained bone from 117 donors, Hodges says. On St Valentine's Day this year, the bank harvested its first heart valve for transplantation.