Man allergic to sun finally gets a protective mask - a replica of his face!
Alex suffers from Xeroderma pigmentosum which is a condition where a person is allergic to the sun and following the tragic incident, Alex is given a mask to protect himself.
25-year-old Alex is extremely sensitive to the sun, and once had his entire face fried while on a family trip. He hasn't stepped out in the sun since he was three-months-old.
At first, the condition that Alex is suffering was dismissed as an infection, but it was later diagnosed as Xeroderma pigmentosum, a genetic disorder which can cause heavy skin burns by just standing under the sun for a couple of minutes.
Due to his condition, stepping out in the sun was never an option for Alex, as his skin fried each time he was exposed to sunlight and on days when he has to go out, he used a cumbersome mask and protective visor to block out UV rays, as reported by Daily Mail. However, Alex is getting a chance to live his life more freely. He appeared on BBC Two show 'The Big Life Fix' in which inventor Zoe Laughlin designed a hyper-realistic 'second skin' mask which has been designed to the likeness of Alex and it allows him to step out in the sun freely.
Alex's mother, Anna, was blown away to see Zoe's creation which was designed to look a lot like her son's actual face. Unfortunately, Alex's DNA is unable to repair any damage, which makes it impossible to recover from the sun burns. The doctors had advised Alex's mother to "live by night," but she was adamant about giving her son a normal life like others. And so, she resorted to using hats and sunglasses to ensure that her son was safe and enjoyed his life as well.
Prosthetic-makers used a special camera that has the ability to take thousands of pictures in a second. This made it possible to create something that looked a lot like Alex's face. After creating a 3D version of the mask, the model was then placed into a plaster cast to create a mold for the mask, which is made of silicone with a UV rating of zero as it is considered to be safe for Alex. Two months after this the mask arrived, Alex and his family were surprised to see the results.
"I didn't think it would be possible," said Alex.
Recalling the moment Alex's face fried during their family trip, Anna said: "You can see in the photos his face is fried, totally fried, there was no skin there. His face was burnt, his hands were burnt, his legs were burnt." Alex was rushed to the hospital where doctors told Alex's parents - Anna and John - that it was 'an infection which would go away.' However, when the same thing happened for the second time, it was revealed that Alex had Xeroderma pigmentosum.
"The doctors told us the only safe way is to live by night, sleep by day so for the first few years we just had curtains drawn, and I was sitting inside crying with him while the world was going on outside.," Anna said. But I thought, well if he’s going to die at three then I’ll do absolutely everything and anything to show him a little bit of the world. I wasn’t prepared to lock him away." She went on to make a protective hat that Alex was going to wear for the rest of his life, but unfortunately, he did not benefit him enough.
"I wish I could be like everyone else but I can't help not being that," Alex said. Apart from the mask, Anna had to carry around a UV reader to test the UV levels in the sun's rays, as well as the lighting in whichever room he was in. When Zoe first pitched this idea the family was skeptical but decided to do it for Alex. "Oh my god. It might work. I haven't actually seen Alex outside in the daylight without this [mask] since he was three months old. Its like, oh please God, 25 years of waiting," Anna said, and when he was presented with the mask, the result surprised everyone. "I blown away, I'm glad you tried something that hasn’t been done before," Anna said. Even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn't have dreamed it up.
'The Big Fix' airs Thursdays at 8 pm on BBC Two.