Spray-on skin: Diabetic's leg saved after horrific burns are treated with 'pioneering' technology'I feel like I'm a human being again with a new life,' says mother who was burnt after losing consciousness in the bathFirst time treatment has ever been given to a patient in Scotland
A diabetic who suffered horrific burns when she lost consciousness while her foot was under a hot tap for six hours is recovering – after healthy skin was sprayed back on.
Laura Ritchie, 52, who has been told on several occasions that she could lose her leg, must now wait a week to find out whether the treatment, which took less than half an hour, has worked.
It is the first time the treatment has ever been given to a patient in Scotland.
Mrs Ritchie, from Aberdeen, believes the wound has shrunk
significantly since the end of last year and is able to walk a few
steps with a walking frame.
'Now I feel like I'm a human being again with a life,' she said.
Recovery: Laura Ritchie is back at home after being the first person in Scotland to receive ReCell spray-on-skin treatment
Mrs Ritchie has been wheelchair bound for two years since she suffered a hypoglycaemic attack in the
bath and her foot came to rest under the scalding water.
Her son, Peter, 30, returned home to find her slumped over the side of the bath and gave her Glucagon to raise her blood sugar levels.
As it began to take effect, however, she screamed in agony and he called an ambulance.
Mrs Ritchie suffered such severe burns that her lower left leg has failed to heal
despite two skin graft attempts.
But consultant vascular surgeon Paul Bachoo, at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, has made history in Scotland by using ReCell spray-on skin technology to treat her.
The procedure works by harvesting cells from a postage stamp-sized
piece of donor skin.
Mrs Ritchie, who has had Type 1 diabetes for 40 years, said she had been in excruciating pain before the treatment.
'It was getting to the point where, however hard I tried to keep positive, it seemed never-ending,' she said.
“I can’t tell you what the pain was like. It was unbearable.
'I was on four or five kinds of painkillers constantly.
quality of life was unbearable. The nurses were in every day – in the
beginning, it took three nurses nearly an hour to dress it.
'I thought my life was over. It was like I was looking out of a window and saying where has it gone
'But now I feel I’m a human being again with a life.'
Mrs Ritchie has also been receiving another revolutionary therapy since December – Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment.
being readily available in parts of Europe, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is
the only NHS hospital in Scotland to be equipped with the machine, which in Mr Bachoo’s words 'gets the wound to a point where it can think about healing'.
is hoped that with these two treatments, Laura’s leg wound will
eventually close up, allowing her to finally resume her life as it was
two years ago.
Agony: Laura Ritchie scalded her leg in the bath two years ago (pictured) after she had a diabetic attack
Mrs Ritchie said: 'After the first shockwave treatment, I could not tell you where my pain had gone, but it wasn’t there.
'When I went back the second time, the wound had shrunk from about 20cm to 15cm.'
Thanking the staff who treated her, she added:
'I just feel so strongly about this. The first few weeks I was going round telling everyone about it.
'I can imagine how people must have felt when penicillin came about. What a difference.
'The loss of pain is one of the first signs it’s working. I feel nothing when they do it.
'It’s like someone is scratching something that has been wanting to be itched for a long time.'
Mr Bachoo, clinic lead for vascular surgery,
said the treatment could be very successful for a certain group of
people, including diabetics like Laura.
He said: 'The clinical knowledge is that in a range of patients whose wounds were not healing, it works.
'It transforms wounds from infected, contaminated, painful, smelly sores to clean and healthy ones that are ready to heal.
'It can transform a person’s quality of life remarkably.
ReCell technology has been around for seven years but few surgeons perform it.
Last month, the mother of two-year-old Zed Merrick told how he was making a remarkable recovery after he received the treatment for burns he suffered when he knocked over a cup of tea at their home in Lincolnshire.
Doctors at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, worked for two hours to give Zed a spray-on skin.
Hospital: Laura receives pioneering shockwave treatment at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary