The Tree Man

ABUL BA­JAN­DAR MADE HEAD­LINES LAST YEAR WITH HIS TREE-LIKE WARTS COVERING HIS LIMBS. NOW, THIS EX­TREMELY RARE ILL­NESS HAS GIVEN HIM A LIFE HE NEVER EX­PECTED

Asian Geographic - - Environment -

of­ten find them­selves frus­trated by the fact that in­jus­tices re­main un­changed, no mat­ter how much they cover the causes and con­se­quences.

And then, once in a while, there are ex­cep­tions to this: Abul Ba­jan­dar is one of them. At the age of 15, the Bangladeshi ado­les­cent started to suf­fer from a very strange dis­ease called Epi­der­modys­pla­sia ver­ru­ci­formis, caus­ing his limbs to sprout tree-like warts. To date, only five cases of this rare dis­ease have been di­ag­nosed glob­ally. “The warts soon cov­ered my hands and legs, so I wasn’t able to work as an au­torick­shaw driver any­more. I had to beg,” Ba­jan­dar re­calls.

He be­came known as the “tree man”. Peo­ple who en­coun­tered him were will­ing to pay for a selfie with what they saw as a strange crea­ture. The warts kept grow­ing un­til Ba­jan­dar couldn’t feel any­thing any­more. He wasn’t even able to dress him­self. “What I wanted the most was to hug my lit­tle daugh­ter, whom I had never touched since she was born,” he says.

Jour­nal­ists “What I wanted the most was to hug my lit­tle daugh­ter, whom I had never touched since she was born”

Then, a story filed by an Agence France-presse re­porter changed his fate, and the 28-year-old’s pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tion came into the global spot­light. The govern­ment stepped in to help. A com­mit­tee of nine sur­geons was es­tab­lished in the cap­i­tal’s Dhaka Med­i­cal Col­lege Hos­pi­tal, where Ba­jan­dar went un­der the knife al­most a dozen times. “We still don’t know why this hap­pens,” the head of the com­mit­tee, Sa­manta Lal Sen, ad­mits.

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