Cape Town-born Sandra Horne has lived 38 years of her life without fingerprints or any Identity Document after being diagnosed at eight weeks old with a rare skin disease, Dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB).

At almost 40 years old, Horne has been given the first chance in her life to have an official registered Identity Document thanks to the help of HID and Bytes Systems Integration, a company that specialises in biometric security.

Epidermolysis bullosa is a group of genetic conditions that cause the skin to be very fragile and to blister easily. Blisters and skin erosions form in response to minor injury or friction, such as rubbing or scratching. DEB is one of the major forms of epidermolysis bullosa. The signs and symptoms of this condition vary widely among affected individuals.

DEB tends to be milder than autosomal recessive forms of epidermolysis bullosa, with blistering often limited to the hands, feet, knees, and elbows. The blisters heal with scarring, but it is less severe. Most affected people have malformed fingernails and toenails, and the nails may be lost over time. In the mildest cases, abnormal nails are the only sign of the condition.

This condition left Sandra with one layer of skin – the epidermis – missing, a major problem when it came to trying to get her fingerprints taken for her ID.

A team at Bytes Systems Integration heard about Sandra’s difficult situation and were eager to help while putting their technology from HID Global to the test. Using multi-spectral imaging HID can capture a fingerprint which resides below the surface of the skin under the epidermis.

When Sandra first had her fingers tested by the equipment to see if they would be able to draw fingerprints she was blown away by the results.

“I was excited to know that I had fingerprints, I was happy to know that there was technology that would be able to help,” said Sandra.

Sandra’s story is truly inspiring; all the years of growing up with the condition, she never once let it get her down and has managed to live a happy and fulfilled life, focusing on the small things that bring her happiness everyday.

Now she can finally see her own fingerprints and has proven that identity, beauty and happiness is more than just skin deep.

Pictures: HID

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