13 February 2009

Treatment not working for Indonesia’s Tree Man

Agence France-Presse
An Indonesian dubbed 'Tree Man' because of massive bark-like warts all over his body underwent a ninth round of surgery on Thursday to remove more of the growths.
Tree Man

Failed treatment: Dede Koswara, 38, dubbed Tree Man sits on his bed at a hospital in Bandung on February 9, 2009. He underwent a ninth round of surgery on February 12 to remove more of the growths, doctors said. Credit: AFP

JAKARTA: An Indonesian dubbed ‘Tree Man’ because of massive bark-like warts all over his body underwent a ninth round of surgery on Thursday to remove more of the growths, a doctor said.

Dede Koswara, 38, had extensive treatment last year for the first time to cut off 13.2 kg of the fast-growing warts, but the doctor warned Thursday they are rapidly growing back.

Koswara’s condition has been diagnosed by a U.S. dermatologist as a genetic defect that means his body is unable to stop the growth of warts caused by the human papilloma virus (see, ‘Tree Man’ barred from treatment in U.S., Cosmos Online).

No cure

It had initially been hoped that treatment with doses of vitamin A would check the growths, which have led to Koswara being abandoned by his wife and unable to care for his two children, but that now appears not to be the case.

“No cure for the disease exists yet, so he needs operations every three to four months because the warts keep on growing,” said Rachmatdinata, director of Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung city, West Java.

Despite this, “Dede’s in good physical condition, better than before since he’s quit smoking,” he said.

Treatment last year allowed Koswara to use his hands and move with relative freedom for the first time in years – the thick warts are clustered most densely around his feet and hands, though they cover his whole body.

Seven surgeons worked for four hours in the latest operation to remove 1.4 kg of the thick growths, which have drawn worldwide attention to the villager.

Before surgery in August last year, the condition also left Koswara unable to bathe himself or work, except in a travelling “freak show”.


Sign up to our free newsletter and have "This Week in Cosmos" delivered to your inbox every Monday.

>> More information
Like us on Facebook
Follow @CosmosMagazine
Add Cosmos to your Google+ circles

Get a weekly dose of Cosmos delivered straight to your inbox!

  • The latest in science each week
  • All the updates on our new website launch
  • Exclusive offers and competitions

Enter your name and email address below: