In Bangladesh, Abul Bajandra is known as the “Tree Man” because of an extremely rare genetic condition known as Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis, or “Tree Man” disease, which causes large bark-like tentacles, resembling tree branches, to grow from his body.
In Bajandra’s instance, the tree-like branches grow from his fingers, palms, and feet and are so large and cumbersome, he cannot eat, drink, brush his teeth, or take a shower without assistance. In fact, according to Bajandra, about the only thing he can do with his hands is scratch his neck. He relies on his 21-year-old wife, Halima, to feed and take care of him.
Bajandra first noticed the growths on his legs in 2006 when he was 15-years-old. Doctors tried medicines but the growths continued to spread across his body. In just three years, bark-like growths covered his fingers forcing him to quit his job as a rickshaw driver. Bajandra tried to cut the growths off himself but says it was too painful.
“Initially, I thought that they were harmless, but slowly I lost all my ability to work. There are now dozens of two to three inch roots in both my hands, and there are some small ones in my leg.”
As news of his condition spread across the region, he became somewhat of a celebrity with people coming from far and wide to see him (there are just two other people in the world with the condition).
In February 2016, Bajandra began his first round of surgery to remove the unusual growths from his body. It is expected to take more than a dozen operations to return his hands and feet to normal. However, doctors at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital say there is no cure for the disease and the warts may reappear.