Health Watch: Spray-on skin for some burn victims

When someone is seriously burned, they face a number of health challenges.

In order to close the wound, doctors graft skin from other parts of the body, creating more wounds and increasing the risk of infection. Now, a new system helps patients regenerate new skin - spray-on skin.

Tacy Gash's whole life changed in five minutes on Memorial Day 2018 when her family home exploded. Gash and her husband Bill had just come home from grocery shopping, when they noticed a strong smell of gas.

"I remember the click. 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," said Gash.

The flames burned Gash on 20% of her body. Her hands and legs were the worst. The heat had melted her skin to the carpet.

During her two weeks in the hospital, doctors recruited Gash 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.

Jeffrey Shupp, MD, FACS Burn Center Director at MedStar Washington Hospital Center says, "It gets sucked up into a syringe and then the syringe is outfitted with an atomizer so that you can spray it on."

Gash says the areas treated with the spray-on 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," says Dr. Shupp.

The ReCell kit and spray-on skin procedure were approved by the FDA late last year. Gash'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 Gash are still recovering, and have rebuilt their home in Prince Frederick County in Maryland, outside Washington D.C.

Contributors: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Jamison Kozcan, Editor.
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