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Tree Man Returns Home After Surgery

Tree Man Returns Home After Surgery

Tree Man Dede Koswara can now hold a pencil and walk without pain

Dede Koswara, the Indonesian villager dubbed “Tree Man” because of the huge bark-like growths on his body, can once again hold a pencil and walk without pain after doctors removed over 13 pounds of warts from his body.

Dede, 37, was taken home from Bandung city after nine months of operations to remove the cetaceous horns, that had smothered his hands and feet, doctor Rahmat Winata said.

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For the first time in over ten years Dede can see the outline of his toes, he has also become a keen Sudoku player now he is able to hold a pencil.

Dede hopes to resume a normal life after two more operations to graft undamaged skin to hands, feet and face.

“What I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married,” he said.

Dede’s ordeal began when he was 15 after cutting his knee in an accident. A small wart then developed on his legs and spread uncontrollably.

Then last year Dede’s plight was featured in news broadcasts worldwide. A ‘Discovery Channel’ documentary team then took American dermatology expert Dr Anthony Gaspari to Indonesia to see if he could find a cure.

It was decided that Dede’s affliction was caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection usually causing only small warts. Dede’s problem was that he has an extremely rare immune system deficiency leaving his body unable to combat the warts.

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After the documentary was aired the Indonesian government voiced worries that Dr Gaspari had obtained blood and tissue samples without official authorization.

These initial problems were quickly resolved and Dr Gaspari revisited Indonesia to talk with the health minister Dr Siti Fadilah Supari.

Dr Lily Sulityowati, from the Indonesian Health Department, said: “Once Dr Gaspari met with the minister and explained all, we were happy to work with him.”

Dede went under the knife for his first operation in January. Dr Rachmat Dinata, the skin specialist leading the Indonesian doctors, said the final phase of operations should be completed in around three months.

Dede is taking vitamin A tablets to boost his immune system, and Dr Gaspari is hoping to get expensive anti-viral medicine available only in the US.

Dr Dinata said: “There is still a high risk that there will be a recurrent growth of warts. So far, though, there has been some thickening of the skin, but no recurrent warts. Dede is very happy. Hopefully he will be able to socialize and work again.”

He will return to hospital at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in October for at least one more operation – the ninth – to remove the remaining 300 grams of the growths, doctor Winata said.

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