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Health News

92-year-old woman becomes first patient to be healed by new treatment for leg ulcers


A great-grandmother has become the first person in the UK to be healed by a new treatment for leg ulcers.

Jessie Townley, 92, had an hour-long operation involving a new form of skin graft known as "decellularised dermis".

One of 20 people taking part in a clinical trial of the technique taking place at University Hospital South Manchester, Mrs Townley has become the first patient to make a full recovery.

She has suffered ulcers on her right leg for 20 years and is among the one in a hundred people who are believed to develop the condition in their lifetime at a cost of £1 billion a year to the NHS.

The widow, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of seven, from Manchester, said the treatment had given her a "new lease of life".

She said: "Anyone who has had leg ulcers as long as I have will know how rotten it can be.

"I have needed clean dressings twice a week and that has meant trips to hospital.

"I have been careful not to knock my leg as that can make things worse and over the year it has stopped me from doing things.

"When these lovely doctors and nurses asked me to try this new treatment I thought it might not work for me but it could help younger folk.

"I am delighted with the results and I feel so grateful.

"I have said if only they could do something for my knees I could go out dancing."

Decellularised dermis is taken from deceased skin donors.

The donor's cells are removed from the skin and processed by the NHS Blood and Transplant Service based in Liverpool.

Mr Ardeshir Bayat, who is leading the trial at University of South Manchester, said: "Decellularised dermis is applied to a leg ulcer to 'kick start' healing in wounds which have become static and resistant to traditional treatments.

"We are delighted not only with Jessie's results, but also with the preliminary finding of other patients on the study."