Brave boy suffering from condition which makes his skin fall off receives 18,000 birthday cards
A brave boy whose suffers from a rare condition which makes his skin fall off has received a staggering 18,000 birthday cards from well-wishers.
Rhys Williams, 13, touched the hearts of thousands across the world after it emerged he had told his mother 'I've had enough of life' because of his condition.
The youngster is living in constant pain as he battles a rare life-limiting and agonising skin condition, known as epidermolysis bullosa.
The condition which he’s suffered from since birth results in painful skin blisters, sores and has even caused his fingers to fuse together.
His mum, Tanya Williams, 36, was desperate to show Rhys he has something to fight for after heartbreakingly telling her that he wishes "a butterfly would come and take him away".
Ahead of his 14th birthday today (September 21), devastated Tanya put out an appeal asking for cards to be sent Rhys.
After hearing his touching story, thousands of people extended their well wishes to the teen.
In just a few days, he has received 18,000 cards as well as parcels and hundreds of online messages and his mum said he was 'loving it.'
One heartwarming message read: ‘Rhys, keep smiling, and don’t give up hope that one day things will get better for you.’
Rhys said of the touching gesture: "Now that I know that people actually do care about my condition and that, it’s made me feel a lot better than what I was."
His doting mum Tanya, 36, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, previously said her son has a smile on his face again ahead of his birthday thanks to the kindness of people.
She added: “He is loving it, he is so happy. It restores your faith in humanity.
“I’ve had thousands of messages on Facebook, I try and answer each one. It’s fab.
“All the cards are just as nice and kind as the next. His favourite present so far has got to be his gaming headphones and Xbox game from someone in LA.
“He has just had a card from the Doctor Who production, he’s had cards from football clubs, supermarkets.
“Rhys has not been able to wipe the smile off his face. He’s been so happy."
At birth, his carers, mum and dad, Mark, 48, had no idea whether he would ever reach his teenage years.
The condition causes Rhys' skin and internal tissue to blister at the slightest knock or rub, leaving him with painful open wounds.
He is now reliant on a wheelchair as he is unable to straighten his legs due to the fusing of the skin at the back of his knees.
His frail body is covered in bandages, which have to be changed three times a day to prevent him from developing any deadly infections.
The pain is so severe that he even had to take morphine to try and control it while his family are unable to hug him.
He is unable to play outside with friends, go on holidays, attend birthday parties and even go shopping in public with his family.
He also has to be fed through a tube as eating solid food can cause his gullet to blister.
The family have done similar appeals before, gathering Christmas cards from Bolton residents to decorate the house and cheer up Rhys.
Last time he was treated to hundreds of festive wishes and loved getting each one in the post.
Dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB) is a rare inherited skin disorder.
The skin of those who have DEB is more fragile than normal. Minor injury causes blisters which often leave scars when they heal.
DEB is not an infection, it is not contagious and it is not due to an allergy.
There is currently no cure and treatment focuses on tackling the symptoms, providing pain relief, and preventing infection.
It is caused by faulty genes which produce collagen, a strong protein in the fibres that hold the skin together.