Little Zeeshan ‘Zee’ Younas from Hackney was born with lamellar ichthyosis, a condition that causes his skin to grow abnormally fast, leaving him with a thick casing of flaky skin across his body.
His skin is stretched so much that his eyes didn’t fully close for the first three years of his life, leading to a range of infections.
Sadly, the little boy’s unusual appearance attracts stares and hurtful comments.
“Zee and his mum Farhana were in the chemist one day, and a man asked Farhana what was wrong with Zee, whether she had burnt him,” Zee’s dad Nafis told The Mirror.
“Zee overheard and for a week was really quiet. When we asked him what was wrong, he told us he had overheard what the stranger had said and wanted to know if it was true that he had been burnt as a child. It was heartbreaking.”
Little Zee was a ‘miracle’ baby for Nafis and Farhana, who had difficulty conceiving. Farhana had a miscarriage followed by a stillborn baby in the years before Zee arrived.
When they learned they were expecting again, they were delighted. However, they weren’t overly surprised when they were told Zee would be born with complications.
They were told it could be Down’s syndrome, a heart condition or something entirely different.
Following Zee’s birth in east London, doctors realised that he had a collodion membrane – a shiny hard casing, like a chrysalis, around his skin.
“It was scary because we hadn’t seen any other child with this skin condition before,” Nafis said. “He wasn’t crying and all of his skin was pulled tight. He had cracks at all the major junctions and they were oozing pus.”
"It looked horrific and it was scary because there were so many cuts everywhere. He was put straight into an incubator and taken up to the special care baby unit."
Zee stayed in the special care unit for five weeks, but even after that, they could only handle him if they wore gloves and an apron to minimise the risk of infection.
As a father, I wanted nothing more than to pick him up and hold him and make him feel safe but I couldn't."
As Zee’s skin grows at a rapid rate, his body does not shed his old layer quickly enough, which means his skin becomes hard and dry.
Because his skin was so tight and dry, his parents said he “wasn’t able to close his eyes properly for three years” when he was younger.
This meant dust and dirt got into his eyes and became infected – leading his cornea on his eye to be perforated.
Zee is currently on 25 medications, including antibiotics, steroids and special creams.He is bathed for an hour every day and applies prescription cream every two hours to keep his skin hydrated and prevent cracks forming.
Currently, his parents are fundraising for a micro silk bath, which produces bubbles to soothe his skin. The tiny bubbles in the bath get under the scales of the skin and exfoliate it gently without being too harsh.
The gadget costs £6,000 and comes from America – but the family have raised just £1,500.
To help Zee and his family, you can donate here: www.gofundme.com/Zeeshan
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