Meet the “Tree Man,” who has one of the rarest diseases on Earth.
You may have seen photos of Debe Koswara, the Indonesian man with hands and feet that resemble tree bark. His bizarre condition got him the nickname “The Tree Man of Java.”
What is actually covering Koswara are warts that started growing on him when he was 15 after he got a cut on his leg.
Doctors found the growths were caused by the HPV virus, and because of Koswara’s extremely weak immune system his body was unable to contain the warts.
For 25 years Koswara was unable to use his hands, walk without pain, or even eat by himself.
His wife of ten years left him to take care for their two children, and Koswara was unable to work.
Although the extended family offered to help, he was only able to work at a “freak show” in order to support himself.
In 2008, a documentary was created about the strange condition, with the medical name “Epidermodysplasia verruciformis.” That same year Koswara went into surgery to remove over four pounds of the warts, which finally allowed him to move and eat by himself. After the procedure, he stated “what I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married.”
Sadly, the warts started growing back again months after he left the hospital.
Koswara continued to see a doctor for his condition, and he needed surgery twice a year to keep off the warts. He passed away in January of 2016.
The Tree Man condition is so rare that Ion Toater from Romania was the second person discovered with the disease, and that was in 2007. Most recently, in 2016, a Bangladeshi named Abul Bajandar was being operated on to cure his condition.
Click through the pictures above to see what it is like having this unusual disease.