The opening images of a new video by STAT—a Boston Globe-run news organization that focuses on science and medicine—are striking, to say the least: a shirtless man whose right arm is partially covered in scales, as if he’s slowly morphing into a human-reptile hybrid.
The man is Josué Bezerra Jr., an electrical supervisor who recently suffered burns on the job. Bezerra is one of a handful of burn survivors to take part in a Brazilian study in which participants’ wounds are wrapped in strips of sterilized skin from tilapia fish. The skin, encrusted by a mélange of shimmering scales, adheres to the wound and forms a protective barrier, keeping contamination out and locking in moisture and proteins needed for healing, according to a doctor interviewed by STAT. The innovative procedure has the potential to revolutionize burn treatment in countries where donated human skin is not available.
While studies like the one in Brazil are important and fascinating, the fact remains that no burn treatment will be as effective as never having been burned in the first place. Even in medically advanced countries, burn injuries are often devastating—even life-changing—which is why home fire sprinklers are so important. To learn more about the need for home fire sprinklers and to watch moving videos from fire service members and burn survivors about how burns affected their lives, visit the Faces of Fire page, a campaign of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative.