Experimental spray on skin treatment helps burn patients recover - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Experimental spray on skin treatment helps burn patients recover

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - When Tiara Del Rio went to light a candle in her home seven months ago, she had no idea that a simple move would change her life forever.

"It was a gas leak, out in the back yard underground, it seeped up from under the ground," said Del Rio.

"It was so fast, but I realized what I had done, because to be in a fire and to light something as small as a light, to ignite like that, I cannot believe we survived, and I look at the house too and it's amazing," she said.

Tiara Del Rio was trapped in the home and on fire until her boyfriend, Beau, carried her out.

You'd think the chaos and shock of the night would mean that tiara doesn't remember much. Instead, she remembers every vivid detail of the nightmare.

"From getting the lighter, trying to light a candle, it burning, the house blowing up, Beau picking me up, taking me out of the house, and us walking to the sidewalk to the edge. The ambulance, helicopter, and then I was here and then they put me out," she said.

When the sun came up the next day, all that was left of their home was charred 2 x 4's. Tiara and Beau's new home became the Arizona Burn Center where unbeknownst to Tiara she would become part of an experimental treatment using a sort of spray-on skin. Photos of Tiara's legs, face, and hands show how bad she was covered in 3rd and 4th degree burns.

"That's where the idea came in. A young girl with beautiful legs, we don't want to push mesh graft on, she had big burns. We didn't want to put mesh graft on because it ends up looking like this everywhere," said Dr. Kevin Foster.

The mesh graft leaves an alligator-like scarring once the skin heals. Dr. Foster was taking part in an FDA test of a new product called "Recell" that is meant to take the place of skin. Foster noticed that when Recell is used with the mesh and human skin it nearly eliminates the reptile scarring look that is left behind forever.

"The problem with the mesh it leaves the mesh pattern, so when we spray the Recell  over the top of it, the mesh pattern doesn't show up in most places," he said.

Pictures of Tiara's severe burns are hard to watch but when you see the result it's amazing.

Her legs before the procedure were red, the skinned burned off. Dr. Foster placed mesh over the leg. "Here you can see the mesh graft that we put on first," he said.

Then Recell or the spray on skin is placed over the mesh grafts. "So what we did was put the mesh graft on, then sprayed it with the Recell, and you can see in most areas you cannot see the mesh pad," said Foster.

Six days later and there are amazing results. "I think everyone in the room was like oh my gosh, it was just so unbelievable," said a nurse who treated Tiara.

"I've been here a long time; some of the most meaningful stuff we've done are in recent times as far as advances," said the nurse.

And it worked on healing Tiara's back that had to have skin removed 4 times for skin grafting that should have left a patchwork of horrible scars, it almost seems miraculous.

"Earlier healing, less time in the hospital, better healing, less scarring, and the donor sites look better," he said.

"It looks beautiful," said Tiara.

And while it still looks like traumatized skin to the average person, it may not look perfect, but it is on the way to being close to perfect,"

In a few months, Tiara's legs will be normal color with minimal scarring along with her face as well.

Foster and his team had to get special permission to do this experiment. The FDA said yes, but don't ask again.

"And it's been working and the FDA is now saying stop. They're not saying stop that, they're saying is we don't want individual use, we want a formal protocol in place," said Foster.

For Tiara who is healing so well and may someday have very few signs of her burns, ironically she has come to be okay with exactly the way she looks.

"I don't want to live the rest of my life and have scars on my face, but then the more I look at it, its just scars are reminders you're living. Proof of something that happened to you and it's oak to have scars now," she said.

With her Recell experiment, she may not have scars.
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