Bangladesh's 'tree man' who suffers from extremely rare genetic disease needs more surgery

Bangladesh's 'tree man' who suffers from extremely rare genetic disease needs more surgery

A 28-year-old Bangladeshi man named Abul Bajandar, also known as the "Tree Man," who suffers from an extremely rare genetic disease, is facing more surgery after a relapse in his condition. Abul has been living with a curious dermatological phenomenon for almost 30 years: the uncontrollable growth of large, bark-like warts and lesions on his hands and feet. The warts are apparently extremely painful and debilitating, and he is unable to eat or drink by himself without assistance. Abul's condition is so rare that there have only been a tiny handful of confirmed reported cases of it worldwide.

An image of lesions on Abul Bajandar's hands. Credit: Getty

Abul had to undergo a number of surgeries back in 2016, when he was forced to give up his job as a rickshaw drivers as a result of his disabilities. At the time, surgeons conducted over 25 separate procedures to remove 11lbs worth of skin growths from his hands, and he was confined to his hospital bed for 30 days afterwards.

Doctors were on the verge of declaring their treatment a success before Abul reportedly discharged himself from the clinic without notifying staff. He has not returned for other appointments for over a year, and now it appears that he has returned, and will require more surgery. In an interview regarding his current state of health, Abul stated: "'I made a mistake by leaving the hospital. I sought alternative treatment but could not find any. I now I understand I should have stayed and continued the treatment here."

Commenting on his patient's plight, Dr Samanta Lal Sen, co-ordinator at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, stated: "It's a complicated case and we were making progress but he left to go home. I requested him many times to come back but he didn't ... He came back to the hospital on Sunday with his mother. He should have come here six months back. He came too late."

Abul Bajandar lying in bed with his family. Credit: Getty

The genetic disease Abul suffers from is known as epidermodysplasia verruciformis, which is caused by a defect in the immune system which increases one's susceptibility to the human papilloma virus. This typically leads to chronic HPV infection, skin lesions and an increased risk of melanoma. The lesions can appear in a number of different forms, but are usually a reddish-brown to violet colour, with scaly surfaces and irregular borders. In approximately 60 per cent of cases of, epidermodysplasia verruciformis, the skin lesions have transformed into skin cancer when exposed to UV light. There is no known cure.

Hopefully, Abul will be able to receive more surgery this time around, before his condition worsens.