Two young Afghani nationals were rushed into Rashid Hospital after a gas cylinder defect left both of them with massive flame burns. Twenty-seven-year-old Hafizulla had 45 per cent total body surface area affected by second-degree superficial and deep burns. His cousin, 20-year-old Khayal Mohammed had 30 per cent burns. Both were in critical condition. A multidisciplinary team of doctors from the hospital and the Burns Unit of the hospital carried out several procedures to stabilise them.
A few days later, both patients became the first in the UAE to undergo amniotic membrane graft that was donated by a mother that delivered her baby via C-section at Latifa Hospital for Women and Children. This is the first procedure in the UAE where the amniotic membrane from the placenta is used to accelerate wound care and regenerate skin tissue.
Dr. Fahd Baslaib, CEO of Rashid Hospital at the DHA said, “Advances in patient care and providing the highest quality of medical services is a priority. The Burns unit at the hospital has continued to expand its specialised services over the last few years and we are proud of this achievement that paves the way for advanced burn and wound care thereby providing patients with better pain management and accelerated recovery.”
Generally, in cases of burns, skin grafting is the procedure performed. Amniotic membrane graft is gaining popularity in burn and wound care due to the many benefits associated with it. Only a pregnant woman that undergoes a C-section delivery can donate the amniotic membrane, as it is a sterile environment.
The amniotic membrane surrounds the placenta and protects the developing foetus in utero and separates mother and foetus. At birth, the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus and is expelled from the body. The mother and child no longer require the placenta to facilitate nutrient transport and pregnancy after birth.
Dr. Muna Tahlak, CEO of Latifa Hospital for Women and Children at the DHA said, “Placental tissues are increasingly being used in wound care and management use thanks to its promising results. We are keen to further develop the use of amniotic membrane in burn and wound care.”
While Dr. Marwan Al Zarouni, Head of the Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit at Rashid Hospital, added, “Both the patients were the right candidates for this procedure as they are young, and the wounds were clean. We contacted Latifa Hospital for Women and Children for a donor for the amniotic membrane.”
Doctors from the Burns unit were present in Latifa Hospital for Women and Children and immediately after the birth of the baby; the discarded placenta was used to obtain the amniotic membrane. Doctors disinfected the membrane, which is a thin film and needs a precise technique to collect it. The membrane was cut into strips, disinfected and stored in sterile containers and was kept in a medical refrigerator.
Prior to the amniotic membrane graft, doctors from the Burns unit carried out a second round of cleaning and removal of dead skin from the recipient areas. On June 26, the amniotic membrane graft procedure was conducted on Hafizulla. Both his legs had deep burns and those areas were selected for the graft. On June 30, the second patient, Khayal Mohammed, underwent the procedure for his chest and upper arms.
Al Zarouni said, “The amniotic membrane was used instead of skin grafting in deep burn areas. We had sufficient membrane to cover these areas for both patients. Since membrane can only be stored for 14 days, we had to discard the rest. The areas where the membrane was grafted showed faster healing.
“There are many benefits of using amniotic membrane. It helps in pain management, which is critical for patients with burns and deep wounds. If it matches genetically, it becomes part of the body or else it does the work of pain management, increases and enhances the wound healing process and then it falls off. The membrane is rich in nutrients, reduces inflammation, has antibacterial properties, is non-immunogenic (will not be seen as foreign material) and it reduces scar tissue formation. All these properties make it ideal to promote wound healing.”
Hafizulla said, “I lost consciousness by the time I was admitted. It was just terrible; we were in so much pain. When I woke up, I realised I was in the hospital. I prayed and left it all to Allah, to his will. I cannot thank the doctors at the hospital enough. They took great care of us; we have received a new lease of life.”
Both patients were discharged soon after. Rashid Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the country that has a dedicated Burns unit that follows international best practices.