Pioneering surgery to treat man with rare “tree man syndrome”


  • A pioneering surgical operation changed a man’s life who had been suffering from a rare and incurable skin condition called “tree man syndrome.”
  • Mahmoud Taluli, 44, from Gaza has been living with epidermodysplasia verruciformis, a rare genetic condition that makes people with this condition more likely to develop HPV skin infections.
  • According to NPR, the condition was dubbed “Tree man syndrome” due to the wood-like growths that covered Taluli’s hands.

A 44-year-old man in Gaza who is afflicted with an extremely rare skin condition called “tree man syndrome” says he can finally live a normal life, thanks to pioneering treatment.

According to NPR, Mahmoud Taluli underwent four surgeries for the past two years to extensively remove the unusual wood-like growths on his hands that prevented him from using his hands for over a decade.

Photo Credit: Hadassah Eln Kerem Medical Center
Photo Credit: Hadassah Eln Kerem Medical Center

Taluli told NPR that his life has gone back to normal after years of suffering and living alone. ‘I can now play with my children. I can go to family events. I no longer need to cover my hands when I go out in public.”

Taluli suffers from a rare genetic condition called epidermodysplasia verruciformis. A 2010 report of the condition published in the journal Disease Markers states that people with this condition are more vulnerable to human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in their skin, compared to those without this condition.

Furthermore, HPV infections in people with this condition lead to wart-like skin lesion formations which eventually turn to malignant tumors in roughly 50% of patients.

The paper also reports that there is no cure or established treatment for the condition. NPR reported that in Taluli’s case, doctors made deep incisions into the skin to remove the lesions needing skin grafts from various parts of his body to help with the healing.

Despite not being a cure since there were new growths which require Taluli to undergo a fifth surgery this summer, NPR reports that Taluli was able to use his hands again and improve his hand functions with the treatment.

Hand and microvascular surgeon, Dr. Michael Chernofsky of Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, who treated Taluli, told NPR, “We didn’t know if there would be anything viable left of his hands, but thank God it’s working.”

Ultimately, a treatment that can help strengthen Taluli’s immune system to fight off HPV are what doctors hope to develop someday.


Source: Live Science

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