The 27-year-old from Khulna suffers from epidermodysplasia verruciformis— a rare genetic condition that causes the growth of large, wood-like warts on the body
Abul Bajandar, a patient known as the ‘Tree Man,’ accused Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) authorities of negligence— after leaving the facility late last month.
The 27-year-old from Khulna suffers from epidermodysplasia verruciformis— a rare genetic condition that causes the growth of large, wood-like warts on the body.
Bajandar left the hospital on May 26 after being denied a month’s leave to celebrate Eid at his village home. He claims that when he sought leave, the hospital authorities asked him to sign a paper stating that Bajandar was no longer interested in receiving treatment at the DMCH.
“Dr [Samanta Lal] Sen himself brought the paper drafted by Dr Nur Nahar Lota. My wife read out the document and I decided against signing it,” he added.
Dr Lota, the assistant registrar of the High Dependency Unit (HDU), declined to comment. Dr Sen, coordinator of the burn and plastic surgery unit, explained that Bajandar had to obtain a discharge letter before leaving the hospital and hence, had to give an undertaking.
“But he fled along with his family instead. I’m shocked,” the doctor added.
Bajandar, a rickshaw-puller from Khulna’s Paikgachha upazila, made news around the world because of his rare skin condition. He underwent 25 operations after he was admitted to the DMCH on January 30, 2016.
‘Negligence and misconduct’
Bajandar says he received great treatment in the first six months but received less medical attention of late, and was subjected to misbehaviour by the hospital staff.
The DMCH doctors who have been treating him disagree.
His wife, Halima Begum, said they had “tolerated everything” for the sake of treatment, but the situation “turned out to be unbearable in the end.”
Bajandar said Dr Hedayat had asked him to vacate cabin number 515 in February. “He became furious and drove us out when we informed Dr Sen about the matter,” he said.
Bajandar went back to his village and returned to DMCH two months later, in April, for treatment.
“We have been staying in cabin number 611 since then,” Bajandar said. “There, the supply of food and medicine was irregular.”
He complained the doctors too had eventually started to neglect him. He claims that although the government promised him free treatment, his family had to buy medicine on some occasions.
Bajandar was healing rapidly in the early stages of his treatment. Doctors were optimistic about his recovery and had declared him “cured” in January last year. But the unusual growth returned.
“I am scared of any more surgeries,” Bajandar told the AFP. “I don’t think my hands and feet will be okay again.”
‘DMCH still wants to treat Bajandar’
Dr Sen said the DMCH authorities had been arranging free accommodation and food for Bajandar and his family since January 2016.
“We even raise funds for his relatives who came to visit him from his village,” Sen said.
He said physicians at the High Dependency Unit “are still ready to treat him.”
“We will be treating him as we did in the past, regardless of his complaints,” Sen added.