The University Record, September 17, 2001

Special delivery from Trauma Burn Center

By Lesley Harding

As blood, medical supplies and other donations make their way to Washington, D.C. and New York, doctors are thankful for a very special delivery from the U-M Health System’s Trauma Burn Center. On Tuesday night, Sept. 11 the first shipment of TransCyte or bioengineered human skin was transported to the nation’s capital by a private jet provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The five-square-feet of TransCyte arrived at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning at the Washington Hospital Center. Surgeons used the skin immediately on two patients.

“We got the call at 3 p.m. on Tuesday,” said Tom Taddonio, director of the Trauma Burn Resource Center and Skin Bank. “Inventories in the Washington area were depleted and because of the airline situation, the California company that produces TransCyte wasn’t able to make shipment within the necessary 24-hour time limit. We were the closest burn center with the largest supply so Advanced Tissue Sciences asked us to expedite a delivery.”

TransCyte is a temporary skin substitute that’s used to cover severe burns. Unlike cadaver skin which needs to be replaced every few weeks, TransCyte can be left in place for months allowing a victim’s own skin to heal.

As he packed the manufactured skin in dry ice, Taddonio said, “We ship tissue and product all over the country so in one way, it was just like another day on the job. But then another part was like I’m helping out during one of the worst disaster’s ever in the United States. I am happy to know I helped in some small way.”

Taddonio doesn’t expect to get any more TransCyte requests because as airline schedules return to normal, the San Diego-based company will make its own shipments.