Hassan, the Butterfly Child, Gets Skin Transplant


Abi Nash, A&E and Opinion co-editor

Hassan, a child living in Germany, has been given new genetically modified skin that covers 80% of his body in a series of operations that have saved his life. He contracted a disease that usually kills four out of ten patients before they even reach adulthood: junctional epidermolysis bullosa. The genetic disease leaves skin fragile as a butterfly’s wings. A piece of his skin was taken, the DNA was restored in the laboratory, and the modified skin was grafted back on. After having this skin for 2 years, it looks normal.

His father says that Hassan’s transformation has been “like a dream,” adding, “Hassan feels like a normal person now. He plays, he’s being active, he’s enjoying his life, and he’s not the way he was before.” Born in Syria, he had blisters and wounds all over his body that developed when he was only a few days old. Normally, the varying layers of skin are held together by “anchoring proteins,” which he lacks. The junctional epidermolysis bullosa means that Hassan’s DNA lacks the instructions for sticking his epidermis (the surface layer of skin) to the dermis (the next one down). The now genetically modified skin cells were grown to make skin grafts totaling in 0.85 sq m (9 sq ft). It took three surgeries to get 80% of his body covered in this new skin. His doctor, Dr Hirsch, said, “The kid is now back to school, he plays soccer, so there was a tremendous increase in quality of life.”

Source:  bbcnews.com