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Meet the man who looks like a tree because of this rare disease

Debe Koswara is an Indonesian man with hands and feet resembling a tree’s bark. He has one of the rarest diseases known on earth and is popularly referred to as the “Tree man of Java”.

Other Diseases By Bhadra Kamalasanan / Dec 23, 2015

Debe, the Tree Man of Java

Debe Koswara, an Indonesian man with hands and feet resembling a tree’s bark has one of the rarest diseases known on earth. He is popularly referred to as the “Tree man of Java”. 

What he really has

What truly cover Koswara’s body are warts that kept growing after he accidently got a cut on his leg when he was 15 years old.

A broken family

Doctors diagnosed him with HPV, which couldn’t be contained because of his extremely weak immune system. At the age of 25, Koswara lost his ability to use his hands, walk without pain, use the toilet without help or even eat without assistance. His wife of 10 years naturally left him when he couldn’t take care of their children and had to stop working. Even though his relatives had agreed to offer the family help, all he could really work at was a “freak show”.

Debe gets known

In the year 2008, a documentary titled “Epidermodysplasia verruciformis” was made on the condition. In the same year, Koswara went into surgery to remove approximately four pounds of the warts, which had finally helped him to move and eat on his own. Sadly, the warts started re-growing within months after he was discharged from the hospital.

A life without surgeries -> luxury for Debe

Koswara still sees a doctor for his condition and would require a surgery at last twice a year to keep the warts from growing. The tree man condition is extremely rare with only another person in the whole world suffering the disease.


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