NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) – It’s pretty common that diabetic patients like Barbara Friend get wounds on their feet.

“It’s cleaned up a lot, ” says Barbara.

Initially though — Barbara’s foot was slow to heal.

She says, “I woke up on a Sunday morning and my foot was all blown up, red and oozing.”

“Let’s take a look,” says Foot Surgeon Dr. Andrew Rice at Fairfield County Foot Surgeons, who was worried about amputation, a big risk for diabetics and chose a new approach.

“We’re using the stem cells and the growth factors of this tissue together to make a graft for a patient,” he explains.

A skin graft processed from the inner side of the umbilical cord to help close Barbara’s tough to heal open wound.

Dr. Rice says, “We place this over the wound surface. We often suture it or staple it in place.”

The umbilical cord is the only source of a protein complex with the unique healing qualities.

“We believe,” says Dr. Rice, “the hyaluronic acid actually regroots the patient’s stem cells and growth factors to heal the wound more rapidly. Also reduces the inflammatory process and regulates that inflammation process which also reduces scarring. The causes of these wounds is friction, so if we can reduce friction by reducing scarring, we’re hopeful long term results will show us that we will reduce recurrances of wounds.”

For Barbara — six months was cut down to five weeks.

“I was looking at a long road for recovery, ” says Barbara.

Dr. Rice says, “It looks like we are completely covered, we have new skin that has formed over the wound we have.”

Another potential benefit.

“We’re hopeful,” Dr. Rice adds, “that some point, we can heal wounds and that we will never see that site become a wound again.”

Barbara says, “My husband was pushing me around in a wheelchair for a long time. Now I’m on my feet. I can walk. I’m very happy about that.”

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