By Bilal Kuchay
A Pakistani man is turning to STONE after a rare condition has caused his legs to swell up to more than twice their normal size.
Shahid Hussain, 38, from Naushahro Feroze district in the Sindh province of Pakistan, suffers from elephantiasis – a painful parasitic infection that has caused his legs to grow abnormally.
The condition has left him virtually bedridden, with his legs now 35 inches in circumference and weighing more than 7st 8lbs and his feet barely visible.
Shahid said: “I was living my life quite normally but five years ago my legs started swelling.
“Initially, I thought everything will be fine but now the disease has left me virtually bedridden and I can hardly walk.
“I never imagined that my condition will be like this – I will be literally paralysed.”
Shahid, a father of five young girls, was working in a car garage to support his family.
However, the family has now been left on the mercy of some relatives who help them financially to run the house.
His wife, Fatima Hussain, said: “We were having a good life but things have changed completely.
“All our savings have exhausted.
“The money we had saved for the marriage of our daughters is gone.
“I sold my jewellery as well and we are dependent on our relatives now.
“We don’t understand what to do.”
Shahid’s family took him to several doctors in Karachi but were told treatment for such a rare condition wasn’t available in the city.
Medics advised the family to take him to a bigger hospital in Islamabad for treatment but due to their poor finances, they are unable to do so.
Shahid said: “A friend gave me some money so that I can come to Karachi for treatment but all in vain.
“We met several doctors there but they told me there was not any treatment available for this condition in the city.”
Shahid’s family are now hoping for help from the public and their local authority.
Fatima added: “Doctors told us we should go to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad for a surgery but we can’t afford the treatment there.
“We didn’t even have money to travel to Karachi, so how can we go to Islamabad which is a costly city and we don’t know anyone there who can help us?
“We are hopeful that people take notice of Shahid’s condition and come forward for our help.”
FACT BOX: WHAT IS ELEPHANTIASIS?
Elephantiasis, also known as elephant leg disease, is characterised by abnormal swelling of tissues.
It is most commonly caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes, with the legs and genitals usually affected.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 1.4 billion people in 73 countries worldwide are threatened by the condition, which is also known as lymphatic filariasis.
WHO figures suggest that approximately 80 per cent of these people are living in regions including Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
More than 120 million people are currently infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease.