Vienna Township man says fish skin graft saved his foot
Sharon Regional Medical Center's Advanced Wound Care Center is showing off a relatively new medical innovation to treat serious wounds.
It uses fish skin to initiate tissue regeneration and a Vienna Township man says it saved his foot from being amputated.
"I ended up with an infection that you could see, that was coming through the skin," said Jeff File.
For three years, File was battling that non-healing wound and in the hospital, was told he was looking at amputation.
After meeting Dr. James LaPolla Jr, a podiatrist and one of the doctors at Sharon Regional's Wound Care Center, File decided to try a Kerecis Omega 3 graft, which is made from fish skin.
"It's good for all types of wound care," Dr. Lapolla said. "The benefit of micro-3's, it basically mimics the human skin if you take a slice of it in terms of the multiple layers of the fish skin and layers of human skin. It allows for revascularzation much easier than some other types of grafts, other than the own human grafts obviously, that would be the best. It also keeps a bacterial free, infection free wound bed that then allows the recipient, the patient's natural skin to incorporate over that wound so you don't get a lot of scar tissue."
"I actually didn't know it was fish skin until today," File said. "I thought it was synthetic, but I would have taken fish skin, pig skin as long as they didn't have to cut anything off of me."
The graft is placed scales down and simply taped over the wound. It's left undisturbed for seven days and then replaced every couple of weeks.
"You do have to get rid of the gross infection," Dr. LaPolla said. "The Omega 3 Kerecis graft is not indicated for grossly infected wounds, you have to get the base infection taken care of first. Once the infection is under control then you put the Kerecis graft on to prevent further infection or quite honestly prevent a new infection from arising. The Kerecis does not stay solid, it kind of liquifies and that gel bed or that moist bed now allows the incorporation of the human skin over several months."
File ended up having about 8 grafts over a five month period and Dr. LaPolla says it went very smoothly.
"I was very satisfied," Dr. LaPolla said. "We have a person that was potentially, possibly losing his foot or ankle, now to the point where he is back wearing regular shoes. One of the highlites in treating him, he wanted to wear his favorite cowboy boots when he and his wife renewed their vows and because of the fact we had his foot healed over, he was able to do that so that was an accomplishment he and I both had and basically it was a great accomplishment for him and made him very happy."
File calls it a minor miracle
"If you were able to see some of the pictures post-surgery, you would see how much of a miracle it was," File said. "Everything seemed to work out very well, I'm here, still kicking, literally. You should see me sometimes."
Dr. LaPolla received an international Aurora award from the Kerecis Corporation for saving Jeff's foot with the fish skin graft.
To get it, you will need to be treated at Sharon Regional's Advanced Wound Care Center at 2425 Garden Way in Hermitage, PA.