The Indonesian who had been dubbed the Tree Man of Java died at just 45 years old. Dede Koswara said eight years ago that he planned to get hitched once he finally got to use his hands and feet without pain. Unfortunately, those plans never came to be, as he died of several complications last January 30, 2016, in the Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Badung, Indonesia.
Tree Man Dede Koswara Dies After Years of Suffering with Rare Disease
In November 2007, a video of Dede Koswara and his bizarre bark-like warts surfaced online. His story was later picked up by Discovery Channel’s My Shocking Story and was the subject of the episode “Half Man Half Tree.” The next year, Koswara was featured again on ABC’s Medical Mystery in the episode titled “Tree Man.”
Koswara’s ordeal started when he was 15 years old. After cutting his knee in an accident, a small wart developed on his lower leg and began spreading uncontrollably.
When his condition got worse, Koswara had to give up his work as a carpenter. He barely got to make ends meet by running a traveling freak show. His personal life was no good either. Because he could no longer provide for his children, Koswara’s wife left him and took their two children with her.
Koswara proclaimed his wish to marry one day
After undergoing an operation to remove 4 lbs of “bark” in 2008, Koswara shared with the Daily Telegraph his plans to marry.
Speaking from an Indonesian hospital, he said, “What I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married.”
The operation was a success and it looked as if Koswara was well on his way to living a normal life. He got to do everyday things such as playing Sudoku and holding a pen. Sadly, his victory was short-lived. The barks continued to grow, requiring two surgeries a year to keep the infections away.
Koswara eventually died in 2016 of complicated health problems, including hepatitis, liver failure, and gastric disorder.
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What was wrong with Tree Man?
Koswara suffers from a condition called Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia, also known as treeman syndrome. He was diagnosed by a team headed by US dermatology expert Dr. Anthony Gaspari. The condition is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common infection that usually causes small warts.
Due to the spread of HPV in the body, patients with treeman syndrome suffer from scaly macules and papules on the hands and feet.
As of this writing, there is no effective treatment for Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia. Doctors have suggested the administration of acitretin 0.5-1 mg/day for 6 months. But upon testing, the treatment was only effective on a case-by-case basis.