PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area teacher who was diagnosed with rare flesh-eating bacteria is recovering after doctors used an experimental skin spray treatment.
Christin Lipinski has been in the hospital since January following the discovery of the potentially deadly disease necrotizing fasciitis, The Arizona Republic reported Thursday.
The Peoria Unified School District teacher has undergone nearly a dozen surgeries, but she could be released in a couple of weeks, said Dr. Kevin Foster, the director of the Arizona Burn Center.
Lipinski, 37, said her children have already planned activities to do with their mother as soon as she goes home.
“My 9 year old has made a list: Things like the park, the zoo — things that we normally like to do,” Lipinski said. “But she says, number one is snuggle time. They want their ‘snuggle time’ with their mom. So I’m looking forward to that.”
Lipinski’s symptoms weren’t unusual at first. She had pain under her left armpit that she thought was from a pulled muscle. She was initially diagnosed with the flu.
The disease was later found after she was rushed to a trauma center because of severe pain.
The bacteria kills tissue found throughout the body, so the first step was to remove the affected tissue, Foster said. Doctors removed skin, tissue and muscle covering most of her left torso.
The next step will be reconstruction. The center in Phoenix was approved to use the experimental spray called ReCell. Doctors took a sample of Lipinski’s skin, mixed it with enzymes that separate the skin cells into a solution and then sprayed that onto her skin.
The experimental treatment has been used on burn victims previously, Foster said, but the treatment on Lipinski is among the first times it has been used in the U.S. against the flesh-eating bacteria.
The Phoenix medical facility treats about 50 people each year for the bacteria, Foster said. Between 600 and 1,200 cases of the bacteria are reported in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“It’s just bad luck. We don’t really understand why some people get it and why some people don’t get it,” Foster said.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com