Dr. Gaspari successfully diagnosed Dede Koswara, known as the Treeman for the root-like growths on his hands and feet.
Anthony A. Gaspari, M.D., chief of dermatology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, is featured in a documentary about a 37-year-old Indonesian man with astonishing root-like growths on his hands and feet. The documentary – "TREEMAN: SEARCH FOR THE CURE" – first aired on Oct. 5 on Discovery Health.
Dr. Gaspari, who is also professor and chairman of dermatology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, travelled twice to Bandung, Indonesia, in 2007 and 2008 at the request of Discovery Health to diagnose and offer possible treatments for Dede Koswara, who has been dubbed the "Treeman" by people in his village near Bandung in West Java.
Dr. Gaspari examined Dede and found that the growths are actually warts caused by a very common human papillomavirus, or HPV, infection, and that the warts were able to grow unchecked for many years because of a problem with Dede's immune system.
Working with doctors in Indonesia, Dr. Gaspari suggested treating Dede with large doses of synthetic Vitamin A and a powerful anti-viral drug to fight the underlying cause of the infection. He arranged for a California company to donate the anti-viral medication, which is not available in Indonesia. Dede has also undergone multiple surgeries recommended by his Indonesian doctors to remove many of the growths from his face, body, hands and feet. He was discharged from the hospital in Bandung in late August.
"Dede has suffered tremendous hardships because of his rare medical condition, and my main concern has always been to do everything I can to help him return to a more normal way of life," Dr. Gaspari says. "He still has a way to go before he is entirely self-sufficient. But, his quality of life is now much better, and he is able to be at home with his family."
The documentary is a sequel to an earlier Discovery special on the Treeman that aired in January 2008 on TLC and in November 2007 in the United Kingdom.
For more information on TREEMAN: SEARCH FOR THE CURE, go to discoveryhealth.com.