When Andrea Pett-Joseph gave birth to her son Brandon in December 2003, she knew something was wrong when the doctors rushed the newborn away without letting her see him.

“I didn’t even know I’d had a boy at first,” the Los Angeles, California, talent manager tells PEOPLE. “They took him immediately to the NICU because they noticed skin was missing from his body. From his calf down, on both legs, it was just raw and red. It made absolutely no sense.”

Then the head of the NICU approached the new mom and her husband, Paul Joseph, with devastating news.

“He said, ‘We’re not sure what your son has,’ ” the 51-year-old talent manager recalls, “‘but we think it’s this’—and he literally pulled out a text book and flipped to a picture. He’d never seen it before.”

A biopsy confirmed the doctor’s suspicions — Brandon had Epidermolysis bullosa(EB), a rare and incurable genetic condition that causes painful blisters on the skin and internal organs from even minor friction. The result is disfiguring scars and, often, early death from skin cancer. (Source)