Indonesia’s “tree man” faces new operations

By Telly Nathalia

TANJUNG JAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) - An Indonesian man dubbed the “tree man” because of the gnarled warts all over his body said on Friday his condition had worsened again although he still hoped to recover and find a job.

Dede, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, returned home from hospital in August after six kilograms (13 pounds) of warts were surgically removed from his body and has been treated as an out-patient since.

“Those (warts) that were removed are growing again and started to reappear after I returned home,” Dede told Reuters, adding that for a time he could go fishing and use a cell phone but now needed assistance again for such activity.

An American doctor has previously said the warts were the result of severe Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) infection, but the disease is not life-threatening. Doctors say his case is thought to be the worst of its type in the world.

Discovery Channel recently made a documentary about Dede’s affliction and his life.

Dede, 37, first noticed the warts on his body after cutting his knee as a teenager.

Over time, Dede was sacked from his job, deserted by his wife and shunned by neighbors as the horn-like extensions covered much of his body and stopped him working. He has two children.

“I’m not desperate but I want to recover,” he added, speaking from his home in the remote West Java village of Tanjung Jaya.

An Indonesian doctor said he would have further operations at the end of December or early next year to remove and reduce warts.

“We have told him that his disease could not be 100 percent cured. In the previous operation, we only tried to increase his quality of life,” said Rachmat Dinata, one of a team of doctors treating him at the Hasan Sadikin hospital in Bandung, a city near his village.

Dinata said he would need at least two operations every year.

For a while, Dede was forced to take part in a circus act in Bandung in order to make ends meet.

But after his case received widespread publicity, donations from the public and government help allowed him to get treatment.

He has also been able to buy some land to grow rice and a second-hand car so his relatives can bring him to hospital.

(Editing by Ed Davies and Dean Yates)

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