PARIS, Ill. (WCIA) — A doctor at Horizon Health in Paris has found a way to successfully treat chronic wounds and lower leg injuries that cannot heal on their own. In some cases, she’s even been able to prevent patients’ legs from being amputated.

The remedy: fish skin.

Dr. Brittany Wojnicki is a doctor in podiatry, a branch of medicine devoted to the study, diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the sole, ankle and leg. She said that in the last three years, she’s been able to use fish skin to help four patients avoid an amputation of one or both legs.

“When someone gets a below-knee amputation their life expectancy decreases by 50 percent,” Wojnicki said. “Fish skin is one tool that can help avoid amputations in some instances.”

The fish skin Wojnicki uses is from wild Atlantic cod caught in Iceland. A company there called Kerecis is a global pioneer in using fish skin to regenerate human tissue. When grafted onto an injury such as a burn or diabetic wound, it recruits the body’s own cells in converting itself into living tissue.

(Photo courtesy of Horizon Health)

Wojnicki’s success with Kerecis’ product recently led to a trip to Iceland for the Northern Lights Workshop, a clinical education event to advance the knowledge of using fish skin on human injuries. Highlighting her success, she served as a keynote speaker and even received the Kerecis’ Aurora Award for the second year in a row.

In both years, she was given the award for saving patients from losing their legs.

“She was supposed to have two lower leg amputations and her wounds were healed in only two months with the fish skin,” Wojnicki said regarding one of those patients. “The fish skin has defied a lot of the odds. Sometimes we can’t believe what it has healed. I feel we’re doing pretty good things in our little wound center [at Horizon Health].