A father and former bicycle puller is gearing up for major surgery at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh to remove more than 11 pounds of bark-like warts on his hands and feet that have earned him the nickname "tree man." The 26-year-old tells AFP he has suffered from what doctors call epidermodysplasia verruciformis for a decade, but that the growths dramatically increased in size and number four years ago. "Slowly I lost all my ability to work," says Abul Bajandar. "There are now dozens of two to three inch roots in both my hands. And there are some small ones in my legs." The genetic skin disease is so rare that one doctor says there are only three known cases in the world.
At first Bajandar says he tried to cut the growths off himself but found it too painful, and when he went to a village homeopath his condition worsened. And while the six-person medical team is already starting to perform blood tests and biopsies, they describe Bajandar as too malnourished and weak for multi-stage plastic surgery, reports the Daily Star. "Doctors said I might need to stay here for six months," he said. His mother and sister are with him now, while his wife and 3-year-old daughter will join him soon. "Even here at the hospital, hundreds have already gathered" to try to get a look at Bajander, says his sister. Surgery is expected to start in three weeks, and the hospital is not charging Bajandar. (This baby's skin blisters when simply touched.)