Sexton hails bravery of skin sufferers
RUGBY superstar Jonathan Sexton has met some tough customers in his time.
But the international out-half yesterday described the bruises and knocks he endures as nothing compared to the pain endured by sufferers from a rare skin disease.
Fresh from Leinster's bruising victory over Munster in Dublin, Sexton officially opened a garden for people whose skin can blister and even come apart from the slightest form of contact.
"They are the tough ones compared to rugby players," said the Ireland star after speaking to epidermolysis bullosa (EB) sufferers who had gathered for the opening of Emma's Butterfly Garden in Killashee House, Naas, Co Kildare.
A sanctuary for sufferers and their loved ones, the garden is the brainchild of Emma Fogarty (28), from Ballyroan, Co Laois, who has lived with a severe form of EB since birth.
EB is a painful genetic skin condition that causes the skin layers and internal body lining to separate and blister at the slightest touch.
"If I was walking down the street and you bumped into me, the skin would completely tear off my arm," said Emma, who is charity Debra Ireland's patient ambassador.
Sexton, who is a Debra Ireland ambassador, said: "It puts everything into perspective for us. Emma is one of the shining examples of how to cope with it.
"It's tough on the families as well and that's why they set up the butterfly garden, even for the people who have lost relatives to this disease, they can come to the garden, and it's great for the people who are suffering."
There are around 300 sufferers of EB in Ireland. There is no cure but management has improved thanks to organisations such as Debra Ireland.