Woman burned in hot spring is getting skin grafts from donor cadavers

EXCLUSIVE: Woman, 20, who suffered third-degree burns to 45% of her body when she jumped into a geyser to save her puppy is still in a coma one week on and is getting cadaver skin grafts

  • Laiha Slayton, 20, had four surgeries to treat her burns, remove dead skin and replace it with donor cadaver skin
  • She remains in a medically-induced coma after the October 5 incident at Maiden’s Grave Spring in Wyoming 
  • Her sister, Kamilla, said doctors at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center are currently working to grow ‘more compatible’ skin for Laiha
  • It is too soon to know what the extent of Laiha’s recovery will be, but the family claims she is doing better each day
  • She has medical insurance, but it won’t cover all costs, and the dental assistant’s family say they’re unsure of what the final care cost will be  
  • Laiha and Kamilla’s father, who pulled the 20-year-old out of the spring, is also recovering from injuries
  • Laiha jumped into the 190f spring to try and save her Shih Tzu puppy Rusty, but he succumbed to his injuries  
  • Kamilla says her father ‘only suffered from blisters on his left foot’ and is expected to make a full recovery 

A dental assistant who was horrifically burned after jumping into a 190F Yellowstone geyser to try and save her puppy remains in a coma one week on after four grueling surgeries. 

Laiha Slayton, 20, has been unconscious since being brought to hospital after the October 5 accident, which saw her dog Rusty die. She has burns to 90 per cent of her body, half of which are third degree, with the remainder second-degree. 

She will continue to have surgeries in which burn unit doctors at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho City work to remove her dead skin and replace it with donor cadaver skin.

She may be taken out of her coma later this week or early next week, if her procedures and recovery continues to go well. 

Meanwhile, the hospital is working to grow ‘more compatible’ skin for Laiha, who was visiting Maiden’s Grave Spring in Wyoming from her home in Tacoma, Washington, when she was burned.

Her sister, Kamilla Slayton, says it is still too soon to know how fully her sibling will recover, but notes that Laiha is ‘doing better day by day’.

Laiha Slayton, pictured last week, remains in a coma after being scalded in a Yellowstone geyster, and has suffered second and third-degree burns to 90 per cent of her body 

Kamilla previously revealed the palms of Laiha’s hands had been burned off by the scalding water when she jumped in after Shih Tzu puppy, who later succumbed to his injuries. 

Laiha has no idea that her beloved dog has died.  

Kamilla has not been able to see her sister since the incident as the hospital is only allowing their parents visitation privileges in an effort to prevent infection.

She told DailyMail.com that the process has been difficult for their family but ‘we will make it past this.’  

Kamilla also shared that her father — who pulled Laiha and her puppy, Rusty, out of the spring — is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries.

‘My dad is doing good,’ she said. ‘He only suffered from blisters on his left foot when his foot slipped in. He is treating them with antibiotics and some other medicine, but he will be completely fine.’ 

A GoFundMe account was created to help the family with medical expenses and cremation services for the puppy, and is seeking to raise $200,000. Kamilla told DailyMail.com that Laiha does have medical insurance, but it will not cover her the cost of all her treatment, and the family are still unclear of what the final cost will be.

Laiha will need multiple debridement surgeries, which involves the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound, over the next two weeks. 

However, her doctors said she was likely spared more serious injuries after her father, Woodrow, 48, pulled her out of the 190°F water in just eight seconds. 

Woodrow — although injured — drove Laiha to West Yellowstone, Montana, to seek help, from where she was flown by helicopter to the burn unit at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. 

Laiha was conscious while in the ambulance and on the life-flight, however it remains unclear what she said, if anything, during that time.

Laiha is pictured with Shih Tzu puppy Rusty, who she jumped in to try to save. The pup later succumbed to his burns, with Laiha still unaware of his death  

He then drove Rusty, the burnt puppy, to the nearest veterinarian in a bid to save its life. Unfortunately, the dog later died from his injuries. 

Kamilla said her father had ‘acted on instinct, adrenaline’ and saved her sister’s life. 

‘He heard the puppy screaming for its life with every bit of air it had in its lungs then watched his daughter nearly kill herself to save her dog, then injured himself while rescuing her,’ the post read.

‘He went to the vet before he could go to the hospital, he knows how close Laiha holds those damn dogs to her heart, and he wasn’t able to see her because of all the work they were doing to her.’      

Kamilla said her father was brokenhearted to learn Rusty’s passing, ‘knowing that Laiha made this sacrifice.’ 

Heroic father Woodrow Slayton (pictured with his wife) was suffering from a burnt foot while driving Laiha’s puppy to the veterinarian in a bid to save its life

Rusty, the Shih Tzu puppy, was taken to a veterinarian but did not survive from its wounds

Laiha and Woodrow had stopped for a visit at Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday and had parked 20-30 yards away from Maiden’s Grave Spring, next to the Firehole River, according Kamilla.

The family’s two Shih Tzus, Rusty and Chevy, were wandering around nearby while Laiha was looking for their leashes in the car. 

Rusty suddenly got his foot burned by a small leak from the geyser that flows into the river. The dog then panicked and fell in to the spring while Woodrow was trying to gain control of Chevy. 

Laiha jumped in to the thermal spring – which can reach temperatures of 190-degree Fahrenheit – in a bid to rescue her one-year-old puppy, and then had to be rescued herself by her father. 

Kamilla said, in her Monday morning update, that ‘Chevy is definitely missing his mom but is happy to see my parents when he can’.

She continued: ‘We still need all the prayers and shares that we can possibly get! The Slayton family is going to have to go through a lot more then just medical bills and this is only the beginning to Laiha’s story. 

‘God bless everyone who has supported and helped Laiha and my family and thank you to the hospital staff and the Idaho community for being so welcoming and kind to my family.’

Maiden’s Grave Hot Spring flowing into the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, where Laiha and her dog reportedly fell into and suffered burns

The incident happened at Maiden’s Grave Spring, north of the famous Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming 

Donations have been pouring in to the GoFundMe page organized by the Slaytons. As of Monday morning, more than $57,000 out of a $200,000 target has been donated to Laiha’s cause.

Yellowstone National Park officials have also posted about the incident on their Facebook page, and warned visitors to stay away from the hot springs.

Their post read: ‘The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface. Everyone must remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around thermal features.

‘While in the park, protect your pets by physically controlling them at all times. Pets must be in a car, crate or on a leash no more than six feet long. They are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas.’ 

Laiha (pictured) was taken to hospital in Idaho by helicopter after her father drove her to West Yellowstone, Montana, to seek help

Laiha seen with her two Shih Tzus that were involved in the incident: Chevy and Rusty

Woodrow (center), 48, saved daughter Laiha (left) from a thermal spring eight seconds after she went into to rescue her puppy last Tuesday. Kamilla is also pictured (right) 

Laiha is the second woman who burned herself in a Yellowstone thermal feature in recent weeks. 

On September 16, a 19-year-old woman—a concessions employee at the park—from Rhode Island suffered second and third-degree burns to 5 percent of her body after falling into thermal water near the world famous Old Faithful geyser.

Due to medical privacy laws, it is unknown exactly how many visitors have been injured from ignoring the cautionary signs. 

In October 2020, a three-year-old suffered second-degree thermal burns to their lower body after running from a designated trail and slipping and falling into a small thermal feature.

In May of the same year, a visitor who entered the park illegally while it was closed due to the Covid pandemic also ended up falling into a thermal feature while backing up to take a photo at Old Faithful.

Since the park’s establishment in 1872, there have been around 20 reported deaths due to some sort of interaction with park thermal areas.

Slayton is the second person who has suffered severe burns in a Yellowstone (pictured) thermal feature in recent weeks

Around 20 people have died due to some sort of interaction with park thermal areas since the park’s establishment in 1872, according to the USG

That number is significantly higher than the eight deaths over the same period due to encounters with grizzly bears, the United States Geological Survey reports. 

The most recent fatality at the park came in August 2000, when one person died and two others suffered severe burns after falling from a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin. 

Yellowstone has more than 10,000 thermal features, which can be as hot as 280 degrees Fahrenheit (138 Celsius). 

The national park was briefly closed in May 2020 due to COVID reasons, but National Park Services reported that it has hosted 483,159 recreation visits in May 2021.

It’s an 11 percent increase compared to May 2019 (434,385 recreation visits) and the park’s most visited May on record.


So far, there have been more visitors coming to Yellowstone in 2021 than over each of the last three years. National Park Services reported that Yellowstone has hosted 483,159 recreation visits in May 2021 — an 11 percent increase compared to May 2019 (434,385 recreation visits) and the park’s most visited May on record

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