Gaza Tree Man: Mahmoud Taluli Gets Life-changing Surgery
A man from Gaza with an extremely rare skin condition has said he can "finally live a normal life" after "years of suffering and solitude" following treatment at a medical center in Israel.
Mahmoud Taluli, 44, suffers from epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV)—an incurable, inherited disorder caused by chronic infection with the common human papillomavirus (HPV). This leads to unusual bark-like growths on the hands and other body parts, NPR reported. As a result of these lesions—which can cause pain—the condition is sometimes described as "tree man syndrome."
To date, there have only been around 200 cases of EV reported in the medical literature and thus research on the disease is relatively limited. As a result, there is no clear protocol for treating the disease.
One of the preferred options is to remove the lesions via surgery. However, this is not entirely effective because they tend to grow back. In Taluli's case, these growths left him unable to use his hands.
Nevertheless, Taluli has now undergone four pioneering operations since 2017 at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem to remove his lesions, allowing him to regain the use of his hands.
"The surgery has completely changed my life," Taluli told NPR. "I can play with my children. I can go to family events. I no longer need to cover my hands when I go out in public."
Michael Chernofsky, an orthopedic surgeon at Hadassah who is overseeing Taluli's treatment, told Newsweek that the patient's symptoms surprised him when he first became aware of the case.
"Over the course of my 30 year career as a specialist in hand surgery, I have seen my share of challenging cases," he said. "The case of Mahmoud Taluli, however, was something that I had never before seen.
"Mahmoud initially presented to me about 2 years ago. We were his last hope. He had seen doctors throughout the Middle East and was told that nothing could be done to help him other than amputation," Chernofsky said. "He had been suffering from his condition for more than 10 years. He had lived with severe chronic pain. He could not use his left hand at all, and movement in his right hand was limited. He was embarrassed to be seen in public. He could not work. He could not play with his children."