“He is loving it, he is so happy,” Tanya Williams, 13-year-old Rhys’ mother, told SWNS. “It restores your faith in humanity.”
Williams went public with her plea in an effort to cheer up Rhys, who has a rare skin condition that leaves him blistered and covered in painful sores. Williams said her son has “had enough of life.”
“He’s had enough of being in pain with the sores,” Williams, of England, previously told SWNS. "He just wants to give up, he doesn’t want to fight anymore. What do you do, as a mum?”
So Williams went public with her plea, and thousands stepped up. Within days, the teen, who was born with epidermolysis bullosa, a group of rare diseases that causes blistering skin that appears in response to minor injury including rubbing, scratching, or even adhesive tape, had letters of support from around the world.
“Rhys has not been able to wipe the smile off his face,” Williams told SWNS. “He’s been so happy.”
Williams said her son is carefully reading each message sent to him, so he hasn’t gotten through all of them yet — and more are arriving each day.
"It's gone worldwide,” she told SWNS. “He's been on the telly in Chile. He got a card from Qatar today and loads from America. It's just gone everywhere. I just want to say thank you. That's all I can really say at the moment, I'm so overwhelmed by it all."
Most types of epidermolysis bullosa sometimes referred to as “butterfly skin,” are inherited, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is no cure, although mild forms may improve with age. Treatment typically focuses on caring for blisters and preventing new ones.
Severe forms of epidermolysis bullosa may cause fusion of fingers or toes, or abnormal bending of joints that can occur at the fingers, knees and elbows. Patients may have difficulty passing stool due to blisters, may experience dental problems, are at risk of infection and sepsis, and high risk of skin cancer. Infants with a severe form of the disorder are at an increased risk of death due to loss of body fluids, widespread blistering and issues breathing.
Williams said she got the idea to ask for cards after seeing how well Rhys responded to Christmas cards last year. His actual birthday celebration is scheduled for later this month
For more information on how to send Rhys a birthday card, click here.