Last March, I posted on this blog (and here) photos of Ioan, a man in Romania suffering from one of the most unbelievable human skin afflictions ever seen, along with stories and interviews from a missionary working over there to help him. Nine months later, after much attention from the medical field, general global interest, and eventually the press, Ioan’s growths have been identified, treated and reduced significantly.

The missionary treating Ioan–on an on-and-off basis–sent these recent pictures below (click to enlarge), showing the improvements. Doctors have been able to clear almost everything off the palm side of his right hand, and repair the skin a great deal (apparently the left hand as well), and reduce the growths on his feet by about 90%. Overall, Ioan’s treatments have resulted in a physical condition far less severe, especially considering how extreme it was. The missionary says that the last he heard, doctors were going to keep working on his hands but not do anything else to his feet, as he would have trouble walking on the skin grafts. In which case he’ll be working with Ioan again once the dust settles. He says he’d be happy to share some more stories at that point, but would rather relay stories that came from Ioan’s own mouth, than those told through someone else’s.

After some debate, the affliction has been identified as a particular form of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), combined with an as-yet unidentified immune system deficiency. HPV is not uncommon, but the rare immune immune deficiency in Ioan–believed to be genetic–allows the virus to take over his skin cells, which results in the bizarre branch/root-like growths on his hands and feet (officially called ‘cutaneous horns’). After Ioan’s story broke, a few other cases of the condition popped up, particularly the case of Dede, a man in Indonesia. Still, doctors call the rare combination of elements that lead to conditions like Ioan’s to be “less than one in a million.?

Ioan has has received more and more attention, and his condition is better for it. The posting about him here last March definitely “broke? the story about the condition outside of Eastern Europe (where Ioan was already receiving attention from the medical field and the press). That posting was the result of the missionary, who had reached out to a relative–a friend of mine here in NYC–who then shared the photos with me. The posting on the WFMU and my blog resulted in a baffling number of hits, the attention from medical experts far and wide, and eventually the MSM. Many thanks to all of the commenters and people who contacted us, relaying information to and through us, and each other. But most of all thanks to the missionary, and other like him, working in places like Eastern Europe. He and others are doing the hardest work in helping people like Ioan, and you can see what those initial actions eventually lead to.

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