Abul Bajandar has not always had things easy. Principally, that’s because he suffers from a rare medical condition, which has in turn led him to undergo multiple surgical procedures and suffer from unbearable pain. Thanks to medical intervention, though, Bajandar’s quality of life has been drastically improved.
And Bajandar, who comes from the southern Khulna district of Bangladesh, has a truly extraordinary story. He’s not always been afflicted by his condition, either; when the rickshaw driver first met his wife-to-be, Halima Khatun, he had seemed to be in good health. Everything would soon change, however.
Indeed, at the time that Bajandar and Khatun were preparing to tie the knot, the man’s health had begun to deteriorate. Nevertheless, the couple married, and Bajandar and his wife now have a four-year-old daughter together. In the interim, however, it has not been a smooth ride for the young family.
Bajandar’s unusual condition became so bad that he eventually had to give up his job, in fact. And although the decision to stop working left him with serious financial concerns, the father of one was in too much pain to continue. Both his feet and his hands were in agony.
What’s more, Bajandar’s particular plight wasn’t one shared by many: only three other people in the entire world are known to suffer from the same health issue. The genetic abnormality led to such unusual symptoms, however, that people began to give him a cruel nickname.
Bajandar became known as “The Tree Man” due to the strange “bark-like” growths on his skin. The medical name of the condition he suffers from is epidermodysplasia verruciformis, or EV, and it made the young dad’s skin break out into unsightly warts on his hands and feet.
However, epidermodysplasia verruciformis goes way beyond a few blemishes on the fingers and toes. Bajandar’s horrifying condition was far more serious than that, in fact. And the symptoms meant that he had to lead a restrictive life – he couldn’t even carry his young daughter.
Furthermore, not only were the warts not pleasant to look at, but they were also extremely painful. That’s clear from a 2017 article by The Guardian, which has quoted Bajandar as describing the feeling as “unbearable.” The growths were heavy, too: all in all, they added pounds to his physique.
Thankfully for Bajandar and his family, though, there was hope for him on the horizon in the form of dedicated medical treatment. Despite the rarity of EV, he was eventually able to undergo surgery to help alleviate his symptoms.
So, Bajandar was admitted to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, where he was cared for by doctors who agreed to treat him without charge. There, the so-called Tree Man was about to undergo life-changing surgery.
In fact, Bajandar would undergo more than 16 different surgical procedures in a bid to cure the strange genetic disorder. And a staggering 11 pounds of growths were removed from his hands and feet in the process, in a series of treatments that medical professionals believed had been a success.
Indeed, a January 2018 article by The Sun quoted Samanta Lal Sen, a plastic surgery coordinator at the hospital, as saying that the outcome of the surgeries was “a remarkable milestone in the history of medical science.” Sen was also hopeful that Bajandar would be the first patient to be completely cured of epidermodysplasia verruciformis.
And given that a man had died of EV in Indonesia in 2016, it may have been reassuring to see Bajandar holding his little girl again shortly after his medical treatments. At that time, his prognosis was good; and after about a month in hospital, he was ready to return home.
It seems fair to say, too, that the dad was excited to finally be checked out of the establishment. The Daily Mail has quoted him as saying, for instance, “I can hold my daughter in my lap and play with her. I can’t wait to go back home.”
By this point, Bajandar’s story had also attracted the attention of media outlets worldwide, who reported on his unusual condition and successful treatment. His moment in the spotlight then led to monetary donations from kind-hearted individuals across the globe.
Bajandar planned to launch his own company with the cash, all the time hoping that the epidermodysplasia verruciformis wouldn’t return. Back in 2017, he was also quoted by The Guardian as saying that he was “worried about raising” his daughter while being afflicted by EV.
Bajandar further described the condition as a “curse” and hoped that it wouldn’t come back to haunt him. But, sadly for the young dad, his worst fears proved to be a reality. The arduous series of operations weren’t enough to curb EV entirely, as it happens.
Indeed, photographs released at the end of January 2018 revealed that Bajandar’s warts had indeed returned. And although the growths on his hands seemed to be far smaller than those apparent pre-surgery, their reappearance was no doubt disconcerting.
Following the perceived success of Bajandar’s many surgeries, he was on track to be the first patient ever to be cured of epidermodysplasia verruciformis. However, as the growths began to come back, doctors have now acknowledged that the man’s case was perhaps more complex than they thought. And now Bajandar fears for his family’s future once again.
Plus, this time around, Bajandar is reluctant to go back under the knife. “I am scared to have any more surgeries,” he is reported to have said to AFP. “I don’t think my hands and feet will be okay again.” But Surgeon Sen is nevertheless determined to find lasting relief for the Bangladeshi man, saying, “We will keep on investigating to reach the ultimate success, though it’s tough to say how long it will take.”