Home » Breaking News, World News » Brenna Westlake Born With Rare Skin Condition Grows Extra Skin

By Jane Nambi

Baby Brenna Westlake was born with a rare skin condition which makes her grow extra skin at a fast rate making her have scale like skin.

Brenna was born on Dec. 19, 2011 to Courtney Westlake and Evan Weslake with a rare skin condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis. Seeing your baby for the first time has to be delightful but for Courtney, it was scary. “It was so frightening,” she admitted. Brenna had big chunks of skin were covering her body. Her eyes were shut so tight because of the skin that they were flipped inside out, making them look bloody.

Brenna 6She was born four weeks early but Courtney said everything was easy, up until doctors took a look at Brenna. “Medical staff were immediately called in from varying specialties and within hours, Brenna was transferred to an isolated room in the NICU of St. John’s Hospital. She was diagnosed with Harlequin ichthyosis – a very rare and very severe skin disorder,” she wrote on her blog where she chronicles the life of Brenna.

Harlequin Ichthyosis is a severe genetic skin condition that causes the skin to form in diamond-shaped plates with deep gaps between them. The infants are born with a thick, scaly skin covering their bodies, and it takes a couple of weeks for the diamond-shaped “scales” to fall off. It is caused by mutations in the ABCA12 gene, which then causes the skin to lack a certain protein that helps it form.

Brenna 1For the disease to occur, both parents have to be a carrier for the mutation. Because of the disease, Brenna’s skin grows at 10 times the rate of a normal person’s skin because the body recognizes that it lacks this skin protein to form connected skin. The disease does not allow Brenna to sweat, which makes it very easy for her to overheat and the thick skin restricts movement and can cause respiratory constriction. “When I heard she had a skin condition all I thought was she would look different. I had no idea the impact the skin has on our bodies,” Courtney said. But as it turned out, it was not just a skin condition.

The oldest known survivor, Nusrit “Nelly” Shaheen, turned 29 in 2013.

Brenna 5“All I thought was that they just needed to wipe her off. They took her out of the room almost immediately. It wasnt until they were getting ready to transfer to NICU that I got to see her,” Courtney recalled. Doctors were baffled and Courtney said that tt wasn’t until they texted a picture to a pediatric dermatologist that they were given the Harlequin Ichthyosis diagnosis.

To keep her healthy, the Westlake’s take precaution. They wash their hands constantly, but Brenna still has had eight to 10 skin infections. She¬† has to have a 45-minute daily bath where she soaks to add moisture to her skin. She also has to be manually exfoliated to help with the skin shedding process. Bleach is also added to her bath water to kill any germs. They also have to feed Brenna fortified milk and she eats more than the average child her size because her body is using so many calories to make skin.

Brenna is now two and a few months old and still thriving with the hope that she will get better. Brenna has an elder brother, Connor who does not suffer from the disease.

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