Thursday, May 15, 2008
BEWARE THE WEREWOLF IN AN INDIAN BOYS CLOTHING
An 11-year-old boy whose face and body are covered with hair is baffling medical experts. Pruthviraj Patil has suffered from hypertrichosis, a rare genetic condition also known as Werewolf Syndrome, since birth. He is believed to be one of only 50 people in the world with the condition. Pruthviraj’s family have tried a range of treatments - including homeopathy, traditional Indian Ayurvedic remedies and more recently laser surgery – but none has proved successful. Now he has appealed to doctors to help him find a permanent cure. "I would like to get the hair removed but even after laser treatment it grows back. The doctors don't have any answers," he said. The thick matted hair that covers Pruthviraj's face has caused him to be stared at and bullied throughout his childhood, and he rarely leaves his home village in India because of the cruelty of strangers. "It is difficult when I venture outside of my hometown or where people don't know me," he said.
When Prithviraj was born villagers told his mother she had given birth to a God. Others thought he was a supernatural creature and a bad omen because of his unique appearance. Anita, 32, admits his condition had been hard for the family to accept. "Why did God do this to us? He looks so odd and wherever we go people throng to see him," she said.
But despite his abnormal hair growth Pruthviraj, who is from the district of Sangli, near Bombay, is healthy, sporty and popular at school. "When I first went to school I used to get bullied and other children would laugh at me, but now they treat me like normal," he said. “We all play cricket together and the hair doesn't stop me running or catching the ball, so it is not a big problem." Plastic surgeon Vinay Saoji, who has examined Pruthviraj, said that the boy was suffering from one of the rarest genetic conditions. "Hairy nevus, where a person has patches of excess hair growth or hirsutism, is not uncommon. But hair persisting all over the body is very rare," he said. "Though I have seen such cases documented I had never come across anyone suffering from the condition until now.”