Bulletin Staff Report

Alexandriea Watson, the Brown County preschooler being treated for an extreme form of morphea, or “hard skin,” received an early and personal visit from Santa Claus this week.

Alex’s situation was detailed to Bulletin readers in a May 17 story prior to a fund-raiser held in front of Wal-Mart on her behalf.

Santa’s visit was arranged by members of the Lake Brownwood Lions Club, whose members have “adopted” the Watson family to help out this Christmas, according to Billy and Tina Parsons.

Her mother, Amanda Watson, said Alex’s condition was diagnosed in August 2005 when the youngster experienced difficulties making routine movements. She has since experienced severe pain and has difficulty tending to her personal needs. The disease has spread to all her extremities, and she is having particular difficulties with from left foot.

The Lions Club brought presents to the Watson family for them to enjoy during their own holiday observance.

Even though her doctors managed to catch it early, her disease has progressed rapidly. She travels to Dallas each week for treatment, even though the family has no insurance to pay for them.

The expense of travel has prompted them to consider moving closer to the Metroplex, club members said.

The disease turns a person’s skin hard.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, morphea is a localized form of scleroderma, a term that literally means “hard skin.” It’s a condition that can cause a wide variety of problems, from skin discoloration to internal organ damage.

The exact cause of morphea is unknown. It’s usually chronic or recurrent, but it’s not hereditary. Researchers believe a reaction of the immune system plays a role in the development of the condition.

There is no cure, but some cases can be managed with medical treatment.