Stephen Kirby's legacy lives on

22 February 2006

The Stephen Kirby Skin Bank (SKSB) at Queen Mary’s Hospital, has transferred to a national service after 10 years’ pioneering work to patients and clinical teams.

The Stephen Kirby Skin Bank (SKSB) at Queen Mary’s Hospital, has transferred to a national service after 10 years’ pioneering work to patients and clinical teams.

Its success raised the profile for a national commitment to provide skin bank services through the National Blood Service. All burn centres now receive their skin allograft from a single skin bank site in Liverpool.

Heather Lawrence Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Trust, which manages the service, said that the Trust Board wished to preserve the late Stephen Kirby’s name.

She said: “We are pleased to announce that we have agreed with the late Stephen Kirby’s Trustees that his legacy will live on by re-naming another service after him within the new Hospital.”

The skin bank was made possible thanks to money raised in memory of the late Stephen Kirby by his widow Kim Brighouse, their friends and the Eastern Daily Press. Stephen Kirby and his son Alexander tragically died following a fire whilst on a camping holiday in France in 1994.

Stephen’s widow Kim Brighouse and her daughter Ellen said they will always be indebted to the committed team who helped establish and run the Skin Bank. They are also grateful to the Trust Board for agreeing to keep Stephen’s name as a permanent reminder of a dear husband and father.

Above all they would like to thank once more all those thousands of people in East Anglia and further afield who supported the appeal and made the establishment of the Stephen Kirby Skin Bank possible. Their generosity, love and support will never be forgotten.

They would especially like to thank the 12 people who came forward and gave their own skin to try to save Stephen’s life as no banked skin was available at Queen Mary’s at the time. Those 12 people were the ones who brought attention to the fact that a purpose built skin bank was desperately needed in the areas at that time. Kim also expresses the hope that a further memorial to her late husband will be established in his home city of Norwich.

Kim feels that the transfer of the SKSB should not be viewed with sadness. She said: “The people of East Anglia have a lot to celebrate in what they have helped to achieve.

“The staff in the bank have worked very hard over the years to start up and maintain a high quality service – retrieving and preserving donated skin. The skin has been used to save many lives both throughout UK and in countries abroad.

“This has paved the way for the development of a national skin bank service within the National Blood Service – and now the recent establishment of the largest purpose built tissue bank in Europe – based in Liverpool.

“Stephen has left a great legacy.”

Notes to Editors:

  • Before the establishment of the SKSB there was a shortage of readily available banked skin at that time in the area. The SKSB led the way nationally and became one of three specialist skin bank centres, the others being based at Wrexham and Pinderfields.
  • The skin bank at the Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton has seen a considerable reduction in public donations following the national inquiry into events at Alder Hey in 2000. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has been the only Burns Centre using the service on a regular basis recently. All other units are using the national service run by the National Blood Transfusion Service, based in state of the art facilities in Speke, Liverpool.

Contact details:

  • Sarah McKellar Press Officer at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust can be contacted on 020 7808 9899.
  • Nick Brighouse and Kim Brighouse can be contacted on 01603 259063.
  • Celia Dadzie Press Officer at Wandsworth PCT on 020 8355 3063.
  • Press Office at the National Blood Service can be contacted on pager 07659 133 583.

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