Surgery at last for Bangladesh's Tree Man

Mr Bajandar with his mother in his hospital room at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday. The 26-year-old Bangladeshi, who has been dubbed "Tree Man" for the massive bark-like warts on his hands and feet, had been unable to afford treatment to re
Mr Bajandar with his mother in his hospital room at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday. The 26-year-old Bangladeshi, who has been dubbed "Tree Man" for the massive bark-like warts on his hands and feet, had been unable to afford treatment to remove the growths which started appearing 10 years ago.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DHAKA • A Bangladeshi man dubbed "Tree Man" for the massive bark-like warts on his hands and feet will finally have surgery to remove the growths that first began appearing 10 years ago, a hospital said .

Mr Abul Bajandar, from the southern district of Khulna, was undergoing preparations for the surgery to cut out the growths weighing at least 5kg that have smothered his hands and feet.

"Initially, I thought that they were harmless," the 26-year-old said at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

"But slowly I lost all ability to work. There are now dozens of two to three inch (5cm to 7cm) roots in both my hands. And there are some small ones in my legs," said Mr Bajandar who was forced to quit working due to the condition.

A team of doctors has been formed to perform the operation at DMCH, Bangladesh's largest state-run hospital, which has decided to waive the cost of the treatment.

Tests are under way to ensure Mr Bajandar's root-like warts can be removed surgically without damaging major nerves or causing any other health problems.

The massive warts, which first started appearing when he was a teenager but began spreading rapidly four years ago, have been diagnosed as epidermodysplasia verruciformis, an extremely rare genetic skin disease that makes the person susceptible to skin growths.

"Popularly, it is known as tree-man disease," DMCH director Samanta Lal Sen said.

"As far as we know, there are three such cases in the world including Abul Bajandar. It is the first time we have found such a rare case in Bangladesh," he said yesterday.

An Indonesian villager with massive warts all over his body underwent a string of operations in 2008 to remove them.

Mr Bajandar's elder sister, Ms Adhuri Bibi, said hundreds of people had visited their home in Khulna over the years to see the "Tree Man". "Even here at the hospital, hundreds have already gathered," she said.

Mr Bajandar, a father of one, said he tried cutting off the warts when they first appeared, but it was extremely painful. "After that, I went to a village homeopath and herbal specialist. But those medicines only worsened my condition," he said.

He also consulted doctors in neighbouring India, but he and his family could not afford the cost of the operation there.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2016, with the headline 'Surgery at last for Bangladesh's Tree Man'. Print Edition | Subscribe