Donated Skin Grafts Save Pennsylvania Woman’s Foot

Tina Caines | Skin graft recipient

Health struggles are nothing new for northeastern Pennsylvania native Tina Caines. This mother of two and grandmother of six had to leave her job with the Head Start Program when her diabetes, in conjunction with thyroid disease and high blood pressure, stopped responding to medication.

Tina Caines, with her husband and catSeveral years ago she faced her most challenging issue yet. Tina developed Charcot foot, a rare but serious complication of long-term diabetes that causes bones to weaken and break. She ended up with a collapsed arch in her right foot, while the toes on her left foot became disfigured.

Tina could no longer enjoy her favorite activities, including spending time with her family, reading, and listening to music, without pain. She had surgery to remove bones and relieve some of the pressure, but her condition kept deteriorating. Tina ended up with four ulcers on her right foot, resulting in a gaping wound. “It was down to the bone,” she said.

Tina needed help with daily activities, including getting from place to place and bathing. Repeated rounds of antibiotic treatment, daily medications, and weekly doctor appointments became a necessity.

Tina was in danger of losing her foot — until donated tissue provided new hope. Thanks to the generosity of donors and their families, she received four skin grafts to address the wounds and open areas on her foot. “I’m surprised how streamlined it was,” she said. “It made such a difference in my life.”

Soon after the procedure, Tina was able to enjoy activities with her husband again. She’s glad medicine has come so far and values the additional time this intervention will give her.

Most of all, Tina is grateful to her donors. “I deeply appreciate the sacrifice they made … the donor themselves and the families by following through with their wishes,” Tina said. “It’s a gift to someone that you don’t even know, that you’ve never even met. What a selfless act of love that can be, to care about your fellow human being that much. I’m very, very grateful to the families and the donors that helped me along the way.”