Tree man 'who grew roots' may be cured

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by alebar14, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. alebar14 macrumors regular


    Jul 14, 2007
    Auckland CBD, New Zealand
    By Matthew Moore
    Last Updated: 2:38am GMT 16/11/2007

    An Indonesian fisherman who feared that he would be killed by tree-like growths covering his body has been given hope of recovery by an American doctor - and Vitamin A.

    Dede, now 35, baffled medical experts when warty "roots" began growing out of his arms and feet after he cut his knee in a teenage accident.

    The welts spread across his body unchecked and soon he was left unable to carry out everyday household tasks.

    Sacked from his job and deserted by his wife, Dede has been raising his two children - now in their late teens - in poverty, resigned to the fact that local doctors had no cure for his condition.

    To make ends meet he even joined a local "freak show", parading in front of a paying audience alongside victims of other peculiar diseases.

    Although supported by his extended family, he was often a target of abuse and ridicule in his rural fishing village.

    But now an American dermatology expert who flew out to Dede's home village south of the capital Jakarta claims to have identified his condition, and proposed a treatment that could transform his life.

    After testing samples of the lesions and Dede's blood, Dr Anthony Gaspari of the University of Maryland concluded that his affliction is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection that usually causes small warts to develop on sufferers.

    Dede's problem is that he has a rare genetic fault that impedes his immune system, meaning his body is unable to contain the warts.

    The virus was therefore able to "hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells", ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that caused the tree-like growths known as "cutaneous horns" on his hands and feet.

    Dede's counts of a key type of white blood cell are so low that Dr Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus.

    But tests showed he did not, and it became clear that Dede's immune condition was something far rarer and more mysterious.

    Warts aside, he had enjoyed remarkable good health throughout his life - which would not be expected of someone with a suppressed immune system - and neither his parents nor his siblings have shown signs of developing lesions.

    "The likelihood of having his deficiency is less than one in a million," Dr Gaspari told the Telegraph.

    Dr Gaspari, who became involved in the case through a Discovery Channel documentary, believes that Dede's condition can be largely cleared up by a daily doses of a synthetic form of Vitamin A, which has been shown to arrest the growth of warts in severe cases of HPV.

    "He won't have a perfectly normal body but the warts should reduce in size to the point where he could use his hands," Dr Gaspari said.

    "Over the course of three to six months the warts should be come smaller and fewer in number. He will be living a more normal life."

    The most resilient warts could then be frozen off and the growths on his hands and feet surgically removed.

    Dr Gaspari hopes to get the necessary drugs free of charge from pharmaceutical firms. They would then be administered by Indonesian doctors under his supervision.

    Still intrigued by the origins of Dede's peculiar immune condition, the doctor would like to fly him to the United States for further examination, but fears the financial and bureaucratic barriers would prove too difficult to overcome.

    "I would like to bring him to the US to run tests on where his immune condition has come from, but I would need funding and to get him a visa as well as someone to cover the costs of the tests," he said.

    "I've never seen anything like this in my entire career."


  2. shoulin333 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2007
  3. GSMiller macrumors 68000


    Dec 2, 2006
  4. hayduke macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2005
    is a state of mind.
  5. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    It's amazing to see him so cheerful, amazing.

    It was mentioned briefly in one of my biology classes on friday afternoon, scary.
  6. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    Man, those photos on the UK Telegraph link are grotesque.

    His face isn't too bad, but his hands look like something out of a monster movie.

    Poor guy. I hope he can get the drugs and surgery he needs.
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Wow, it's amazing how well he's handling it. And it's great that he still hasn't given up on life and tries to find a way to support his children. :)
  8. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
  9. TimJim macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2007
  10. chris200x9 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 3, 2006
    thats really really wierd, but Im amazed at how cheerful he is. I don't think I'd handle it that well.
  11. theman macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2007
    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
  12. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    And to think there are people in this country that do themselves in because they cannot stand the "pressure" or aren't "beautiful enough" or their lives are "too hard".

    Kudos to him. I call that a trooper.

    And yeah, I think I do need a hug.
  13. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
    Geesh, I got goosebumps and all tingley after looked at that picture. poor guy.
  14. keysersoze macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Geeeeezzz poor guy. I am impressed by his 'happy' disposition, although it may be brought on by the realization that his affliction can be brought under control. It reminds me of this show I watched about a 17-18 year old kid with a massive tumor growing off his nose. Even though he was horribly disfigured, he still had a very positive outlook on life (doctors wound up removing his entire nose, and through reconstructive surgery, is now healthy). It really puts little things in perspective. I hope they can help him enough so his hands aren't so burdened.
  15. juanm macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    Wow, and they used to tell me that if I kept doing it I'd go blind!
    This is so scary I'd have even considered actually stopping! :D
  16. monkeydo_jb macrumors 6502

    Apr 17, 2002
    Columbia, MO
  17. Jasonbot macrumors 68020


    Aug 15, 2006
    The Rainbow Nation RSA
    I guess you had to dig really deep to unroot that one!
  18. ntrigue macrumors 68040


    Jul 30, 2007
    Love it!
  19. Jasonbot macrumors 68020


    Aug 15, 2006
    The Rainbow Nation RSA
    Is he a tree hugger? I guess his kids must be..

    Doctor: Well I'm stumped
  20. me_94501 macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2003
    Say what now? :confused:
  21. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    It is great to see someone who has suffered so much be able to see some light at the end of his tunnel.
  22. PickledSquirrel macrumors regular


    Dec 10, 2003
    Aarhus, DK
    Noticed how well he'd fit in on the Flying Dutchman from Dead Mans Chest?

    Isabel Allende is quoted for saying, that the problem with fiction is that it must seem credible, while reality seldom is.

    Best of luck to him!
  23. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    Wow, that is incredible and terrifying at the same time. I sure hope that the man is able to be treated and cured as much as possible.

    Yes, it most surely is. :)

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