Sahana Khatun's face started growing a wood-like wart four months ago. But it wasn't until it started spreading that her dad, Mohammed Shahjahan, became worried.
Shahjahan brought his 10-year-old daughter to Dhaka's Medical College, which is south of their village in Bangladesh, for medical help. Doctors think she may be the first female to contract epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV), more commonly known as "tree man syndrome." They are still running tests to confirm the diagnosis.
People with the incurable, extremely rare genetic condition are more susceptible to human papillomavirus (HPV) infections on the skin, which can lead to scaly, wart-like skin lesions. And according to a 2010 report, about half of patients end up with malignant tumors.
Until now, all known patients have been male. Sahana is being treated in the same hospital as Abul Bajandar, who is reluctantly known as the most famous "tree man." The 27-year-old's hands and feet grew tree-like sprouts that weighed about 11 pounds. He has now had 16 surgeries at the hospital and is expected to leave the hospital in February. After not being able to feed himself or hold his wife or 3-year-old daughter, Bajandar will soon be able to use his hands again for the first time in 10 years.
Photograph by Barcroft Media via Getty Images
As for Sahana, doctors are hopeful she may have a less aggressive version of EV, but it's still heartbreaking for her and her father.