Last year, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi man, dubbed “tree man” because of the large, wood-like warts on his hands and feet caused by a rare genetic condition, made world news. Now, he’s making headlines again — doctors say they may have actually “cured” him.
Abul Bajandar, who is only one of four recorded people in the word to ever be diagnosed with the genetic condition called epidermodysplasia verruciformis, underwent 16 surgeries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. If the warts do not grow back, Bajandar will be the first person in the world to ever recover from the disease.
“Bajandar’s cure was a remarkable milestone in the history of medical science,” said Samanta Lal Sen, plastic surgery coordinator at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. “We operated on him at least 16 times to remove the warts. The hands and feet are now almost fine. He will be discharged within next 30 days after a couple of minor surgeries to perfect the shape of his hands.”
But for Bajandar this is much more than a medical milestone — it means he has a second chance at life.
“I never thought I would ever be able to hold my kid with my hands,” Bajandar said. “Now I feel so much better, I can hold my daughter in my lap and play with her. I can’t wait to go back home.”
Before the genetic disorder took over his hands and feet, Bajandar was a rickshaw driver from a poor village in the southern coastal district of Khulna in Bangladesh. When his condition became aggressive, he was forced to quit his job.
Bajandar had also met his wife Halima Khatun before he contracted the illness; however, by the time they got married, the bark-like warts had already began to appear on his body.
Due to his status as an international media sensation, his condition came to the attention of the doctors at Dhaka Medical College and the hospital offered to perform all 16 surgeries free of charge.
Bajandar, his wife and daughter have all lived in the hospital since he was first admitted for surgery nearly a year ago.
“He is probably the most loved and longest-staying patient in this hospital,” said duty doctor Nurun Nahar.
Once Bajandar leaves the hospital, he hopes to open a small business using the donations he received from concerned well-wishers all across the world.
“I was so worried about raising my daughter,” Bajandar said. “I hope the curse won’t return again.”
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.