20 June 2019
Burra burns victim Glenn Ogg owes his renewed life to a world-first skin transplant developed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital by surgeon John Greenwood, who got sick of seeing burns patients with limited options.
Mr Ogg, 33, survived burns to 95 per cent of his body, and became the first to benefit from the new technique.
Dr Greenwood, who was a key surgeon treating the Bali bombing victims in 2002 and SA Australian of the Year in 2016, has developed a skin farm at the Royal Adelaide — otherwise known as the composite cultured skin (CCS) technology — in the skin engineering laboratory.
Mr Ogg suffered serious burns and severe smoke inhalation in a house fire in early December 2018.
The treatment involved removing his deep burns, then taking a graft from his scalp to grow 26 large CCS flaps of skin over five weeks, each 25cm by 25cm and 1mm deep.
In mid-January, the first batches of the CCS were ready and Mr Ogg began undergoing the surgeries to completely close his burn wounds.
They eventually covered 50 per cent of his body. The remainder was treated by traditional grafts.
Professor Greenwood said the new skin, developed with scientists Bronwyn Dearman and Amy Li, was grown in a specially designed bioreactor.
“Not only did Glenn benefit enormously from this new technology, his initial treatment included another cutting edge technique known as biodegradable temporising matrix (BTM) … also developed here in Adelaide,” he said.
“(That) works by not only ‘holding’ the burn wounds in a healthy condition, but improving them, for the five weeks it takes to grow CCS and was pivotal in the early survival and progress of the healing of Glenn’s wounds.
“Every aspect of how these two technologies works together has seen Glenn not only survive, but make a remarkable recovery in less than six months.”
Prof Greenwood praised Burra Hospital, Medstar Retrieval Service, the RAH’s emergency department, intensive care unit and burns unit teams. These teams helped see Mr Ogg out of ICU and off the ventilator with normal kidney function in nine days, and walking 28 days after the fire.
In a comparable case reported in the UK, a patient spent more than 40 days in the ICU, and left hospital after a year still unable to walk.
Prof Greenwood noted in many similar cases patients do not survive and, when they do, they usually depend on a ventilator for months, and often experience severe kidney failure from tissue injuries.
Mr Ogg has spent six months in the RAH and will likely be transferred to Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre later this month. Further trials of CCS have been approved.