Experimental treatment part of burn victim's recovery

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Tiara Del Rio left the Arizona Burn Center this week after more than three months of intensive treatment for severe burns.

Del Rio, 21, had second and third-degree burns over 53 percent of her body after her Peoria, Ariz. home exploded on Oct. 16, 2013. Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Beau Zimbro, was also severely burned.

The explosion is believed to be caused by a natural gas line that was broken during a remodeling project.

Del Rio said she remembers everything about that terrifying day.

"We were just relaxing you know. We were sitting on the chair and I went to go light a candle and instead of lighting the candle it blew up in my face," Del Rio said during a news conference at the hospital on Thursday.

The two managed to get out of the house alive and were rushed to the hospital.

"They asked me what they should do and I said two things. I said one call my mom and dad and two call my work and tell them I'm not going to make it in for a few days," explained Del Rio.

She was in a medically-induced coma for three weeks to treat the wounds to her hands, legs, feet and face.

"It was a lot of crying but it got me to where I am today," said Del Rio.

Now, after many surgeries, Del Rio is headed to a rehabilitation facility for three weeks.

"Knowing today that I can actually walk is just a miracle," said Del Rio.

Del Rio said Zimbro is also making progress in his recovery.

Experimental Treatment

One of Del Rio's doctors used a new process called ReCell to treat her burns.

"It's something that can be called a skin spray where we take a little bit of the skin and we use an enzyme to separate it and we chop it up and we make a spray out of it." explained Dr. Kevin Foster with the Arizona Burn Center.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved ReCell but the agency granted permission for its use in Del Rio's case.

"We found that if you spray the skin over the meshed skin grafts with holes in it, it looks really, really good," said Dr. Foster.

The doctor said that Del Rio had limited skin donor sites. Basically, the only place doctors could take skin was from her back.

"I had burns all over my legs, my hands they were pretty much gone cause the skin was peeled off and my face and my bottom area," explained Del Rio.

Del Rio got another unusual treatment in the form of medicinal-grade honey. Dr. Foster said honey helps fight infection and dissolve burns so the skin can heal on its own.

Del Rio said she appreciates the special treatment.

"I saw my pictures for the first time of what I looked like before and what I look like know and I'm very grateful for the doctors and the nurses here at this hospital," said Del Rio.