The earliest hospital tests trying to transplant or graft skin onto burn victims involved using back and stomach skin from large frogs, but these were sloughed off when the burn granulated in its own healing process. The patients who actually had the burns begin to graft to the frog skin were noted to end up worse than the ones whose body didn’t accept it in the first place. The burns and frog skin would become necrotic and gangrenous and cause septicemia.
In larger hospitals, the option of using skin from cadavers or amputated limbs was sometimes available. However, until Dr. Reverdin came along, grafting was done using both the dermis and epidermis. The vascular region of the prepuce of a boy was noted to be particularly good for grafting use.
Even when epidermis-only grafting was brought about, it was far from perfect, especially non-autografting (taking skin from one part of someone’s body and grafting it elsewhere on the same body). The case shown here was after several grafts and six months, showing “remarkable healing”…from what I gather, that basically means the person was even beginning to heal, and wasn’t sicker than when they came in.
From Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, by Walter L. Pyle and George M. Gould, 1896.