Although supported by his extended family, he was often a target of
and ridicule in his rural fishing village.
But now an American dermatology expert who flew out to Dede’s home
village south of the capital Jakarta claims to have identified his condition,
and proposed a treatment that could transform his life.
After testing samples of the lesions and Dede’s blood, Dr Anthony
Gaspari of the University of Maryland concluded that his affliction is caused
by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection that usually
causes small warts to develop on sufferers.
Dede’s problem is that he has a rare genetic fault that impedes his
immune system, meaning his body is unable to contain the warts.
The virus was therefore able to “hijack the cellular machinery of his
skin cells”, ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that
caused the tree-like growths known as “cutaneous horns” on his hands
Dede’s counts of a key type of white blood cell are so low that Dr
Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus.
Dede with his teenage daughter. He fears that his two children
may also become infected
Dr Gaspari, who became involved in the case through a
Discovery Channel documentary, believes that Dede’s condition can be largely cleared up
by a daily doses of a synthetic form of Vitamin A, which has been shown to
arrest the growth of warts in severe cases of HPV.
“He won’t have a perfectly normal body but the warts should reduce in
size to the point where he could use his hands,” Dr Gaspari said.
“Over the course of three to six months the warts should be come
smaller and fewer in number. He will be living a more normal life.”
The most resilient warts could then be frozen off and the growths on
his hands and feet surgically removed.