TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa woman who suffered burns over most of her body in a January 2018 house fire is alive and recovering thanks to a cutting edge treatment at Tampa General Hospital that she credits with saving her life.

  • Natasha Williams, 46, visiting friend when house fire occurred
  • Suffered burns across 75 percent of her body
  • Doctors used new product called SkinTE to help her skin regenerate
  • More Good News stories

Natasha Williams, 46, was visiting her friend, Tiffany Walker, when Walker's house caught fire.

Williams took her friend's hand and tried to escape.

She said she woke up laying in the middle of the road with burns on 75 percent of her body.

"I know it was God that got me out of the fire," she said. "But I didn't realize how bad a shape I was in."

Skin regeneration

Doctors with the Regional Burn Unit at Tampa General Hospital used traditional skin grafts on some wounds on Williams's upper body, but they were struggling to find enough kin to cover the rest of her body.

"So her predicted mortality was close to 100 percent," said Dr. David Smith.

After consulting with Williams family, Smith decided to use a new product called SkinTE, made by a company called PolarityTE. The product claims to be the first able to regenerate full-thickness skin.

Doctors use a special kit to harvest a sample of skin from the patient that contains the outer layer and the layer that has hair follicles, sweat glands and nerve endings.

That sample is then sent to the company, which returns something designed to regenerate the skin.

"It's projected that those are stem cells, so they will grow and continue to coalesce until she has full thickness over all of the open areas," said Smith.

"My scars show my heart"

Williams said she's amazed at the results.

"My skin is so soft and smooth," she said. "I thank God, I thank God every day for Dr. Smith and that procedure because that's what saved my life."

Williams still bears emotional scars. Her friend Tiffany didn't survive the fire and Williams wears her ashes around her neck.

As for her physical scars, however, Williams says they bothered her at first, but not anymore.

"My scars show my heart. My scars show how much I loved Tiffany," she explained. "I didn't want to leave her. I tried to bring her with me. I'm confident in my scars now, I'm confident in my scars."

She said she wants other burn patients to know there is hope.

Williams, who is a mother of three and a grandmother, said she hasn't been able to work full-time since the fire.

She said she has set up a GoFundMe page trying to raise money for living and medical expenses. 

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