A man took his first steps in years after having an enormous two stone mass, caused by a tiny mosquito bite, removed from his leg.
Known only as Saidalavi, 46, he was diagnosed with elephantiasis as a teenager after parasitic worms entered his body via the bite.
The condition left him bedridden for two years, with surgeons only intervening when the huge lump became infected.
After a month of antibiotics, five doctors cut off the 30lb (13.6kg) mass during a five-hour operation at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi in India.
One month on, Saidalavi managed to walk again this week, but is expected to go under the knife again later this year before he can hope to live a normal life.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 856 million people in 52 countries are at risk of developing elephantiasis, which is also known as lymphatic filariasis.
Saidalavi managed to walk again this week, 30 years after he first developed the condition
After a month of antibiotics, five doctors cut off the 30lb mass during a five-hour operation
WHAT IS ELEPHANTIASIS?
Elephantiasis is defined as an impaired lymphatic system, resulting in abnormal enlargements of the body due to by a parasite infection from a mosquito bite.
Nearly 856 million people in 52 countries worldwide are at risk of developing elephantiasis, which is also known as lymphatic filariasis.
In 2000 over 120 million people were infected, of which around 40 million were disfigured and incapacitated by the disease.
Infection usually occurs during childhood.
This can result in tissue or scrotal swelling, as well as tissue thickening, in later life, leading to permanent disability and social isolation.
Elephantiasis is caused by adult parasitic worms lodging in the lymphatic system. Their larvae then further add to this problem.
Preventative chemotherapy can stop the spread of the infection by reducing the number of parasites in infected people’s bloodstreams.
Scrotal swelling is treatable via surgery.
Elephantiasis can be stopped from becoming worse by practicing good hygiene, exercising and elevating affected limbs.
Source: World Health Organization
‘I had given up all hope’
Saidalavi was diagnosed with elephantiasis 30 years ago, with the swelling getting worse with age.
He said: ‘I thank the doctors from the bottom of my heart for enabling me to lead a normal life.
‘It is amazing feeling to stand on my own two feet without any support.
‘I had given up all hope and was even worried that my legs would need to be amputated if the infection spread.
‘I have now got my life back and look forward to taking up a job again.’
‘He will need further reduction surgery’
Surgeon Dr Subramania Iyer said: ‘It was a complex surgery.
‘Several complications could rise because of the patient being overweight and his inability to walk.
‘It was a challenge for anesthetists to manage the big excision in such an overweight patient.
‘Saidalavi’s physical transfer to the operating table and correct positioning during surgery was also difficult and required meticulous planning.
‘He will need further reduction surgery on both the legs after six to nine months, and then he will be able to lead a normal life.’
Saidalavi was diagnosed with elephantiasis after parasitic worms entered his body via a bite
The condition left him bedridden for years but needed sorting when the lump became infected
Saidalavi is expected to go under the knife again later this year before he can live a normal life
Picture shows the two stone mass after it had been removed from the patient’s leg
Saidalavi says standing feels ‘amazing’ after he had almost given up hope of ever walking