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YOUR HEALTH: Spraying on new skin

Doctors are using a cutting-edge new procedure for burn victims that allows them to spray on a solution that turns into new skin.

WASHINGTON, DC – Tacy Gash's whole life changed in five minutes on Memorial Day 2018 when her family home exploded.

Tacy and her husband Bill had just come home from grocery shopping, when they noticed a strong smell of gas.

"I remember the click," said Tacy.

"I remember the whoosh of air cause it was really hot. Strong whoosh of air. And I remember seeing pink."

"When I woke up in the hospital, I had burn marks that came around my face.  It's because the flames came around and clapped my face, then moved on."

The flames burned Tacy on 20% of her body.

Her hands and legs were the worst.   The heat had melted her skin to the carpet.

There are three types of burns:

  • First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin
  • Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath
  • Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath

During her two weeks in the hospital, doctors recruited Tacy for a clinical trial of ReCell.

It's a kit containing everything a doctor needs to take a small sample of a patient's own skin and turn it into a liquid with the cells needed to regrow new skin.

"Then it gets sucked up into a syringe and then the syringe is outfitted with an atomizer so that you can spray it on," Dr. Jeffrey Shupp, MedStar Washington Burn Center director

Tacy says the areas treated with the spray skin healed flatter and the color is better than her burns treated with skin grafted from other areas of her body.

With recell, a piece of healthy skin the size of a postage stamp, can treat a burn 80 times that size.

"It means less donor sites for the patients, which decreases their total wound burden," said Dr. Shupp.

Tacy's husband Bill was not treated with the ReCell because his burns covered 60% of his body and his injuries were too severe.

Bill and Tacy are still recovering from those injuries.

The ReCell kit and spray skin procedure were approved by the FDA.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.