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Little Isabella (Pippi) Kruger who received a historic life-changing graft from her own cloned skin last week, is expected to be taken off the ventilator on Friday night.
“She is already awake,” her mother, Anice, said last night, adding that her three-year-old daughter was now on only one drug to keep her calm.
Isabella became the first patient in South Africa to receive a graft from her own cloned skin. And removing her from the ventilator is the next important milestone in her long recovery.
It follows Monday’s “ecstatic” news that the grafts had “taken” on her body, which was severely burned in a freak accident at the family farm in Limpopo on New Year’s Eve.
Firelighter gel held by her father, Erwin, exploded in his hand, burning his daughter on 80 percent of her body.
Isabella was expected to stay in the intensive care unit for about two to three weeks, her mother said, and then she would have to undergo rehabilitation, which could take anything up to a year.
But there had been so much positive news, the mother said, that she did not want to focus on anything negative.
Once a little chatterbox, Isabella no longer talks as a result of being on a ventilator for so long in the early days after the accident.
“I can’t wait for her to talk again. That’s what I’m looking forward to now,” Anice said.
Although 40 percent of Isabella’s skin grew back over the gruelling months, she did not have enough healthy skin to carry out skin grafts to cover the rest.
Then her mother learnt that an American-based cell therapy manufacturer could grow skin from a patient’s own healthy skin, and two small pieces of Isabella’s skin were flown to Boston where they were grown. Her cloned skin was couriered to South Africa and doctors grafted it on to her face, chest, arms, legs, sides and other wounds.
When the bandages were opened on Monday, everyone in the theatre applauded when they saw that the grafts had taken.