Georgia baby born with rare skin blister disease

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Like all newborns, Reid Davis Underwood is fragile.

But from the moment he was born in late May, his parents realized he was far more fragile than most.

"The doctors knew something was wrong, but they didn't know what," said Reid's father Brian Underwood. "They were pulling out textbooks."

It wasn't until the next day that Reid diagnosed with epidermolysis bullosa, known as EB. It's a rare genetic skin disease that causes the outer layer of skin to break down and blister constantly.

There is no cure and no way to prepare for it during pregnancy.

"We ran all the normal tests, and they all came back fine," said Reid's mother Audra. "So we were going through the pregnancy thinking everything was okay, and it wasn't."

Reid was born with blisters on his hands, feet and back. The skin on his right leg didn't form properly. It still hasn't.

He spent two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston before being cleared to go home with pain medication and detailed instructions about how to care for his delicate skin.

Every day, Reid's parents use three layers of special-order bandages to avoid new blisters and infection on his raw skin.

His treatment is expensive. The bandages alone cost more than $2,000 a month.

"We know that the monthly supplies are pretty extraordinary, along with the NICU stay at Children's Healthcare," Brian Underwood said.

"It's a lot and having our two other kids," added Audra. "It's a lot."

Reid has two older siblings. Avery is 4, Barrett is 3.

They've learned they have to be extra gentle with baby brother.

"At first, it's like you're afraid to touch him because you don't know if you're going to hurt him or damage his skin," Brian said.

But Audra and Brian have discovered that Reid does best when he's close to them.

Skin-to-skin contact can be as soothing to him as any newborn.

And yet the future is scary.

"It is day by day," Audra explained. "We won't know for years the extent of his disease."

For now, they want to help more people learn about EB and support research to find a cure or more effective treatments soon.

Family members have set up the Reid Underwood Account at SunTrust to help cover his mounting medical bills.

They've also created a special Facebook community page for Reid Davis Underwood.


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