London SE1 website team

Countess of Wessex meets patients and staff at St Thomas' Hospital

Patients with a rare condition that causes their skin to break and blister at the slightest touch met the Countess of Wessex when she visited St Thomas' Hospital on Wednesday.

Countess of Wessex meets patients and staff at St Thomas' Hospital
The Countess with EB patient Henry George

During the Countess's visit to St Thomas' Hospital she met patients and staff in the Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) clinic and toured the National EB Laboratory, the only lab in the UK that can diagnose all forms of the condition.

The Countess, who is patron of DEBRA, the national charity that supports individuals and families affected by EB, experienced first-hand how the unique partnership between the charity and the NHS benefits patients.

Henry George, a 20-year-old history student from Buckinghamshire who was diagnosed with EB when he was just a few days old, presented flowers to the Countess.

He said: "It was great to meet the Countess, and brilliant that she is supporting DEBRA so they can continue their vital work.

"I am extremely grateful to the specialist EB nurses and the rest of the EB medical team for enabling me to live as normal a life as possible.

"Because of their expertise, they are helping me to achieve my goals, get on with life and look positively to the future."

EB is a group of genetic disorders that result in fragility of the skin and, in some cases, other internal membranes and organs. Blisters, open wounds and sores form from the slightest touch.

"It's been an honour to have Her Royal Highness visiting our clinic today," said consultant dermatologist Dr Jemma Mellerio.

"We hope we've given her a real insight into the pioneering work we are doing to help our patients.

"We're very lucky to have such a strong relationship with DEBRA. Their funding enables us to carry out pioneering research and provide the best care to our patients."

The specialist EB team is part of St John's Institute of Dermatology at St Thomas' Hospital. It is one of only four EB centres of excellence in the UK.

• The Countess's husband the Earl of Wessex will tonight attend a concert a the Royal Festival Hall.

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