NEW ORLEANS — Nancy Van Den Akker went through a difficult time. 

Compressed discs caused pain shooting down her leg. In May, she had surgery to fix that. Then there was another problem. 

"Was about ready to start physical therapy when apparently some of the stitches in the side opened up. I had kind of these gaping holes there," said Nancy Van Den Akker.

It's harder for diabetics like Nancy to heal, so even with standard wound medicine the incision stayed open for three months. Then Tulane reconstructive plastic surgeon Dr. Abigail Chaffin asked Nancy to try new technology.

"What we're talking about today is living tissue. These are donated placentas from healthy mothers, undergoing planned C-sections, that give consent to donate tissue that would otherwise be discarded," explained Dr. Abigail Chaffin, a reconstructive plastic surgeon specializing in wound medicine who is the Medical Director of the MedCentris Wound Healing Institute at Tulane.

The tissue comes in many sizes. Dr. Chaffin spreads it out over the wound, then it's bandaged for a week. The tissue bathes the wound in growth factors and stem cells helping regenerate your own tissue, faster.

"These can be used for many different type of wounds, from diabetic ulcers, venous ulcers, non-healing surgical wounds, over any area of the body," said Dr. Chaffin.

This can keep people out of the operating room with anesthesia and from having a painful skin graft that leaves a big scar. It can also help prevent infection and limb amputation. She even used it successfully before surgery on a young patient whose wound did not heal for 10 years.

Nancy healed in four weeks with the treatment.

"It's all healed up. I don't even feel it. Within just a couple of weeks, I was able to start physical therapy," said Nancy Van Den Akker.

Every time someone is finished with the treatment the medical team rings a big bell hanging in the center.

Now that her medical team has declared Nancy healed, she can't wait to take the senior dog she rescued out for walks again.

Here are more before and after pictures:

The MedCentris Wound Healing Institute is doing a study at Tulane on the effectiveness of the new technology.

It's for any child or adult who has an open wound for at least four weeks.
It is through your insurance and co-pay.

For more call 504-399-3605 or toll free, 1-855-HEAL-DAT.

► Get breaking news from your neighborhood delivered directly to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.