About a month ago on this blog, I posted photos and a story about a missionary in Eastern Europe who is caring for a man who has keratin-like matter growing out of the skin on hands and feet (see part one of the story here). A month later, I can report that man's strange condition is improving - but what is causing the condition has yet to be exactly identified, it seems. The man is also getting the full attention of the medical and research communities in the region (rather mysteriously, as you'll see below). As you can see from the recent photos the missionary sent me, the growths have been reduced through chemical treatments, soakings, and whittling down (a dremel saw was used). While the research and treatments are still being conducted, the man and his family seem to be in for the long haul (click 'continue' below for more photos). The missionary told me...
"I have looked at the blog link, and I found some of the responses very helpful. I passed it onto the Romanian people in charge of the man. I will try to flesh this out a bit more for you. The man is on the eastern side of Romania, and I am on the western side, though the country is not so big (about the size of Oregon) it takes 16 hrs to get from here to there. There are no interstates, and every time you come to a new town or village you slow down to 25 miles per hour. I went by train to avoid the wintery road conditions. I saw him on a Monday, and worked on him for 2 hours cutting and cleaning and applying Compound W-type acid in areas. Approximately 90% of the growths do not have blood circulation or pain associated with cutting them. About 10% do bleed slightly and seem to hurt. After 2 hours he became very fidgety and I decided to stop. After 2 hours of work there was not much to show for it by way of a noticeable difference, though there were a lot of growths cut off. I would have needed to work on him a month or more at the rate we were going. I returned home on Tuesday having treated several areas with the acid to see what would happen with them, and I wrapped one foot with a Una boot, to see if that helped (some one on the blog suggested that). My Romanian contact there was going to return in a week and check on things. When he returned the next week, he found the man was gone. His mother said that on the previous Friday, an ambulance had come to their home (they live in a rural area) and said they had come for him. They loaded him up and took him away. Neither he nor his family had called for an ambulance. He was gone about a month. He is back home now (he returned home just before Easter). He was in a hospital in Bucharest where they mainly did tests, as far as he knew they did not diagnose anything. The medical system here is not very forthcoming with information in general, not just in this case. He thinks that he will be going back in May. They did cut many more of the growths off his hands and they look much better. They did nothing to his feet. I think it is a great improvement. I think what you did on the web sight was very good and helpful, I was impressed. I will send you my newest pictures."
"As far as sending money, I left money with my contact there. So far, none of it has been spent. I would be concerned about giving him or his family money directly. I don't think that would be a good idea. If money was needed for the medical treatment, I could see that it reached the right hands, but at this time there does not seem to be a need for additional money for them. It does not appear that any of the anti viral drugs mentioned [in the blog post's comments] have been used and do not appear to be readily available here, I would like to have them and be able to offer them to the doctors treating him, but currently do not have a source for that. If someone was able to get them in the US, I could give you an address in the US [email me for address and info] to send them to, and the next person that I knew of would be coming to Romania could hand carry them to us here. The Romanian postal system is very unreliable, so I would not trust it with the meds. If someone wanted to donate for medical needs (in Romania) we would happily administer the funds, but at this time there does not seem to be a need for additional money for Ioan. Please feel free to write and ask more questions if you have any or ask for updates in the future."
When I first posted this story, I kept names, faces and even locations out of it as requested. Although now it appears now that the man's plight has made a few Romanian news outlets. You can see those stories (with some great additional photos) here, here and here (a very rough Romanian text translation program can be found here - if anyone else can provide an exact translation, please do). The man is under the primary care of Dr. Carmen Madeleine Curea, the primary dermatologist at Spitalului Clinic Colentina (in Bucharest), as well as some other specialists. Although they aren't saying much about what they have discovered, or even if his condition is precedented at all, at the very least he appears to be being cared for, and his condition is being kept under control.
(click each photo for larger view)