Tree-man disease. (Hadassah University Medical Center)

After suffering for years from an uncommon yet extremely painful and unsightly virus, a Palestinian from Gaza received successful surgical treatment at a Jerusalem hospital.

Imagine suffering from painful, scaly growths covering an appendage with bark-like skin that could become cancerous at any moment. That was exactly the fate of a 42-year-old Gaza man named Mohammed Taluli who had been plagued by a condition colloquially known as “treeman disease,” so termed because growths associated with the condition cause body parts to resemble tree bark.

While Taluli had endured excruciating pain for years, the shame he felt due to his hand’s appearance led him to constantly hide the affected areas. Eventually, the man became secluded in his own home and the overwhelming feelings of isolation became almost unbearable.

“Aside from the pain, the disease is very dangerous and could easily develop into cancer,” said Dr. Michael Chernofsky according to a report by TPS. Chernofsky is a hand specialist at Jerusalem’s Hadassah-Ein Kerem hospital and the first physician able to help Taluli, whose disease is so rare that it doesn’t generally appear in medical texts.

“[Taluli] eventually couldn’t move the hand. He had become withdrawn and fearful of any possible situation that could cause him to show the hand to other people. He kept the hand covered all the time and life was very hard for him,” explained Chernofsky.

After surgically removing the growths, in some instances leaving no skin, the Israeli medical team grafted skin from other parts of the body, leaving the appendage hopefully functional in the future.

“I have been suffering with this for nearly 10 years… After years of being ashamed and staying at home, unable to work and unwilling to show my hand to people, I have finally been given some hope of my life returning to the way it used to be,” Taluli told TPS.

By: United with Israel

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Source: United with Israel