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Health Beat: Luci's locks: Regrowing a burn victim's hair

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: May 10 2013 10:40:45 AM CDT
Updated On: May 10 2013 04:44:03 PM CDT

Nearly a half-million Americans are treated for burn injuries each year.

Nearly a half-million Americans are treated for burn injuries each year. 

Burns can be excruciatingly painful and disfiguring, but a new procedure is helping give something special back to many burn victims.

Take Luci for example. She's an artist, tutu collector, and a survivor. 

At 3-months-old, Luci was abandoned at a Chinese orphanage. Her face and body were severely burned. There was no explanation, just some cash and a letter. 

“It was a note, and it said, 'Thank you to the kind people,' and it gave her birth date," said Tara Newton, Luci's mom, who flew to China and adopted Luci when she was four.

“It was just like, God was like, ‘There you go. That’s why I put you on this earth," said Newton, who is also a burn survivor. A fireworks accident scorched her chest and face. "Who else can mom a child with that kind of need beside someone who has been there and done that?”

Luci needed major reconstructive surgery. 

“The most obvious physical problem that she had was that she had no hair," said Dr. Joseph Williams, chief of plastic surgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Williams placed balloon expanders beneath Luci’s skin and used the little hair she did have to pull her hairline forward. Each week, he expanded the balloons a little more. After four months, about 60 percent of her scalp was covered with hair.  One more round with the expanders could help cover the rest.

"I admire her more than anybody I know," said Luci's proud mom.

The doctor said they'll add hair to her eyebrows, then with a little makeup, you'll hardly be able to tell.

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DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Joseph Williams about regrowing a burn victim's hair