By Bilal Kuchay
A Pakistani man is suffering from a rare condition which has caused his legs to swell up almost double the normal size.
Ashraf Ali, 24, from Sheikh Darra village in Dadu in Pakistan’s Sindh province suffers from Elephantiasis – a parasitic infection that is painfully causing his legs and feet to balloon at an abnormal rate.
The condition has forced him to stop working as a labourer in fields and is now bedridden.
He says: “I was quite normal till the age of 21.
“Three years ago after attending a marriage ceremony in the nearby village, I noticed that both of my legs had swollen.
“But I ignored that and kept working in fields.”
Ali only got worried about his condition in June last year when he felt acute pain in his legs.
He said: “I went to a local health
center in my village where I was given pain killers and some medicines.
“I was relieved from the pain but soon my legs started getting bulky and the skin got rough and tough.
“When I walk, I feel as if a weight of 4 to 5 kgs have been tied to my legs.
“I’m not able to do any work and I’m very scared.”
Ali’s family took him to a government-run hospital in Dadu, where doctors advised him to visit a bigger hospital in Karachi, 220 miles far from his home town.
The family didn’t have the resources to visit Karachi but a local social worker gave them £100 for travel expenses.
They finally visited the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in December last year and stayed in the hospital for almost a month.
But to their utter shock the doctors after conducting various tests said that treatment for such a condition was not available in the hospital.
The family later took him to Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi where doctors told them he need to undergo surgical treatment which would cost them half a million Pakistani rupees.
His father Ali Nawaz said: “I had taken a loan of £1300 for my daughter’s marriage from a local landlord which I’m yet to pay. Who would have given me more loan for my son’s treatment.”
“It’s too painful to see my son in acute pain.
“We are very poor and work in fields as labourers at a mere £2 a day. We can’t afford his treatment as we don’t have the resources,” Nawaz added.
Several people have come out for Ali’s help and have donated for his treatment but the family is yet short of required funds.
Nawaz further said: “We have collected £1300 so far and need £1950 more for surgery.
“We appeal the local government for help.”
WHAT IS ELEPHANTIASIS?
Elephantitis, known as elephant leg disease, is characterised by abnormal swelling of tissues.
It is most commonly caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes. The legs and genitals are usually affected, which become thick and saggy.
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 120million people are currently infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease, the organisation adds.