An agonising condition has caused a man’s legs to swell to almost twice their normal size.
Ashraf Ali, 24, from Sheikh Darra in Pakistan, suffers from elephantiasis, which has caused his legs and feet to balloon to such an extent he is now virtually bedridden.
He said: ‘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.’
After raising the money to visit a hospital, where the former field labourer stayed for almost a month, Mr Ali was told by doctors they were unable to treat him.
Specialists are now telling Mr Ali’s family, who earn just £2 a day, surgery could help ease his symptoms but will cost more than £3,000.
His father Ali Nawaz said: ‘It’s painful to see my son in pain [however] we can’t afford his treatment as we don’t have the resources.’
Mr Ali’s family are appealing to their local government for financial support.
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Ashraf Ali suffers from elephantiasis, which has caused his legs and feet to balloon
Mr Ali’s foot has almost doubled in size, leaving the former field labourer virtually bedridden
When he walks, Mr Ali claims it feels as if he has a weight of 4-to-5kg tied to his legs
WHAT IS ELEPHANTIASIS?
Elephantiasis is defined as an impaired lymphatic system, resulting in abnormal enlargements of the body due to by a parasite infection from a mosquito bite.
Nearly 856 million people in 52 countries worldwide are at risk of developing elephantiasis, which is also known as lymphatic filariasis.
In 2000 over 120 million people were infected, of which around 40 million were disfigured and incapacitated by the disease.
Infection usually occurs during childhood.
This can result in tissue or scrotal swelling, as well as tissue thickening, in later life, leading to permanent disability and social isolation.
Elephantiasis is caused by adult parasitic worms lodging in the lymphatic system. Their larvae then further add to this problem.
Preventative chemotherapy can stop the spread of the infection by reducing the number of parasites in infected people’s bloodstreams.
Scrotal swelling is treatable via surgery.
Elephantiasis can be stopped from becoming worse by practicing good hygiene, exercising and elevating affected limbs.
Source: World Health Organization
Symptoms started at 21 years old
Speaking of the onset of his symptoms, Mr Ali said: ‘I was quite normal ’til 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.’
Mr Ali became concerned again in June last year when he felt 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.’
After raising the money to visit a hospital, doctors told Mr Ali they could not treat his disorder
Specialists now say surgery is an option but will cost more than £3,000
Mr Ali’s family, who are also field labourers, earn just £2 a day and cannot afford the procedure
‘We can’t afford his treatment’
Mr Ali’s family took him to a local government-run hospital, where doctors advised him to visit a bigger clinic in Karachi; 220 miles far from his home.
Initially unable to afford the journey, a local social worker gave Mr Ali’s family £100 for travel expenses towards the hospital visit.
After arriving at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in December last year and staying for almost a month, doctors told the family they were unable to treat Mr Ali’s condition.
The family later took Mr Ali to Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, where medics said he required surgical treatment that would cost half a million Pakistani rupees (approximately £3,240).
Mr Nawaz said: ‘I had taken a loan of £1,300 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.’
Despite several people donating towards Mr Ali’s treatment, the family are still a long way from raising sufficient amounts of money.
Mr Nawaz added: ‘We have collected £1,300 so far and need £1,950 more for surgery.
‘We appeal [to] the local government for help.’
Mr Ali first noticed his legs were swollen when he was 21 years old but initially ignored it
His symptoms took a turn for the worst last year when he started to feel pain in his limbs