Dede Koswara : The forgotten story of “The Tree Man”

Many of you will already have seen Dede Koswara “The Tree Man” a few years ago when a picture of him posted on the internet sparked a veritable media frenzy. Thanks to the attention, an American dermatologist was able to diagnose his condition as a rare combination of conditions, and offered to treat the tree-like growths that were consuming his body and had cost him his marriage, his job and his independence.

The surgeries went well, for the first time in over a decade Dede was able to use his hands again and walk without pain, and so his story has been largely forgotten. But sadly, the story hasn’t ended there.

The story of Dede’s condition begins 30 years ago when he was 10 years old. Whilst out in the forest near his home on the island of Java in Indonesia, Dede cut his knee whilst out in the forest. Shortly afterwards, small warts sprouted around the wound, which eventually spread to his feet and hands.

As he grew older, his warts continued to grow. Eventually the sheer number and size of them meant that his ability to carry out his job as a tradesman suffered, and though the warts didn’t hurt or itch, they gave off a sickening odour. At 28, Dede’s wife of 10 years left him as he became unable to work to support her and their two children.

Dede ended up travelling with a circus to earn a living. It was whilst he was there, that a photo of him posted online attracted the attention of a group of documentary makers who sought the advice of dermatologist Anthony Gaspari, about what was causing his condition.

When he was 10 years old, Dede cut his knee…small warts sprouted around the wound, which spread to his feet and hands.

It was discovered that Dede had contracted the common human papillomavirus, a condition that usually causes small warts like the ones he first developed as a child. However, a rare immune deficiency allowed the warts to grow out of control, leading to the root-like barnacles known as cutaneous horns which eventually covered his face and limbs. According to the leader of the team which treated Dede at the Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung, “he is like an HIV patient, but he is negative. Because his immunity system is so weak, it’s easy for other infections to enter his body.”

Dede looking better after treatment in 2008

After flying out to visit Dede, Gaspari designed a drug treatment program and worked with Indonesian surgeons to cut 13 pounds of warts and decaying matter from Dede’s body using an electric saw. Doctors then used chemotherapy to bring the virus under control, but the treatment was cut short after Dede’s liver began to fail.

Unfortunately, it was shortly after this point that political complications led to conflict between Gaspari and Indonesian officials. Though things were eventually cleared up, the problems resulted in Gaspari’s departure from the medical team before Dede’s treatment could be completed. Indonesian doctors tried a second round of surgeries, but Dede’s warts returned.

Gaspari believes that a complete cure would require a bone marrow transplant or other procedures not readily available in Indonesia. “There are things I still want to do for Dede, but my hands are tied,” he said. “The government seems to view me as some outsider butting in where I don’t belong.” Meanwhile, Indonesian officials are reluctant to let Dede travel abroad for care, fearing he would become exploited as a medical research project.

All of this of course leaves Dede stuck in the middle. “For a cure,” he says, “I’d go anywhere in the world.” Sadly, all he and his family can do is hope that he’ll be allowed to.

Sources : LA Times, The Telegraph

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  • Anon

    Thank you for this update. I was searching and searching to see what was the end of Dede’s story and the result of the chemotherapy. Hopefully the Indonesian govt will let him travel to Dr Gaspari and receive the treatment he needs!

  • Lou

    I feel very sad for him, i want to know more about the news and how he feels like today. I even will be happy to write him a letter if only an ‘kind of’ association exists for his case. I’m very shocked about the humiliations he underwent and maybe still undergo. if anyone has information about how to help him and support his family, please let a com ;) He’s very handsome without all those warts otherwise . i do think it, really. be brave Dede,our disease is your force ;) i find it very artistic in the same way not only ” monstruous ” and profitable.

  • Wendy

    Can’t believe the politics of governments can prevent this man from being helped – can a campaign be launched? How can we prevent this travesty – this man needs help – it’s a personal not a political issue. If there can be anything to cure this man it should be done.

  • Sillylilcat

    Are there any new updates? Please keep us informed.  Been looking for recent updates but none has came up.

  • Ddsibeon

    Unbelievable, I watched this story on discovery and wanted to know how he was doing. To think that , really, there is no real concern from the Indonesian government other than to save face , and this guy, who’s lived a lifetime of physical and emotional pain is left to suffer with little hope. In actuality his government is just reaffirming the western world’s stereotype of their country by their inaction in this case. sure , they did something when an American Dr took an interest, then , once they look good in the eyes of their people he is sent home and long term do not care. This guy also suffered with active TB and Hepatitus B. He also suffered from severe bone loss, oesteoporouses . Their general health care and disease prevention practices are virtually non existent for the average family. This guy deserves help….he has had enough taken from him…How I hope he has the opportunity to go to the USA for further treatment….

  • dee

    I just watched the documentary about Dede on youtube, and was googling for an update on his condition. I was hoping to hear that the chemo worked and all was well for him, and disappointed that so much has gone wrong since the initial treatments by the US doctor a few years ago. I hope and pray that Dede gets the treatment he so deserves. It’s so disheartening to read how politics are involved where human suffering is concerned.

  • dee

    I just watched the documentary about Dede on youtube, and was googling for an update on his condition. I was hoping to hear that the chemo worked and all was well for him, and disappointed that so much has gone wrong since the initial treatments by the US doctor a few years ago. I hope and pray that Dede gets the treatment he so deserves. It’s so disheartening to read how politics are involved where human suffering is concerned.

  • Camado89

    I am so angry, i couldn’t sleep last night thinking about Dede Koswara’s story. Somebody has to do something for this man,the Human Rights, somebody. This man is going to die if he doesn’t recieve his treatment. This is about saving a life, not a political issue.

  • Sasmith1981

    Wow. Sounds like the Indonesian government is composed of selfish idiots. I am sure they are more interested in the United States being able to claim victory over this man’s condition.

  • Blainejr

    Sorry but you have the story so totally twisted!! So Totally! Do a lil more research apl, then re-type this story, thanks bro ;)

  • Blainejr

    **pal

  • Anonymous

    Not Indonesian government that refused the free treatment for Dede but Dede himself stated that. I saw the story on Discovery channel. His treatment was to remove his warts. They gave him some medicines but it did not cure him at all. The warts keep coming back. Gaspari did not have a cure for Dede. He was in trial and error stage. Dede liver could not take that.

    When you write the story please do it based on the fact not conspiracy theory!

  • Anne_white53

    What they should do is bathe this guy’s skin in Fish Oil; then after the Fish Oil (esp. CodLiver Oil softens up the warts you scrape them like shucking corn…
    then you give Vitamin A as the Doc said; w/Vit.  B-Complex with NIACIN  B3 !

  • Anne_white53

    Another thought is:  Have this guy take long warm soaks in Epsoms Salts Baths; to soften this crud…then use Shea Oil + JoJoba Oil to “seal up the healthy skin;  like everyday this guy should take a warm bath and scrub his skin with a brush; chemotherapy would never cure this ! RoseMary Oil works

  • Anne_white53

    “and if Dede has Osteoporosis a poster writes; Calcium; Vit. D;  Mag; + Boron

  • Katharine

    Human papillomavirus (also known as HPV) most typically presents as a STD, with vaginal warts. These typically have to be surgically removed or frozen off – do you really think soaking in a bath would remove them? Don’t be ridiculous. 

  • Anne_white53

    that is how I removed my HPV warts…I sat in a hot spring every day for about a month; and the warts I had jsut dissovled ! see the problem with the ways you mention is “the warts grow back;
    see my protocol of Epsoms baths; Fish Oils; Vitamin B3 Niacin acutlly makes the skin so the skin does not get warts !
    a simple concept…nutrition prevents cures and treats disease

  • Anne_white53

    ps do you think ridiculous I cured my HPV with “baths?

  • Anne_white53

    ps what is intreesting is: i typed the words FISH OIL in combo with the Magnesisum Salts baths…
    and the Doc ALSO gave this guy VITAMIN A !
    Vitamin A is found abundantly in FISH OILS !(esp. Fish Liver Oils like Cod Liver Oil…cool1!

  • Anne_white53

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra     
     
    Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet.
     
    Anne’s Comment: NIACIN VITAMIN B3 is the only known “preventative; treatment or cure…!!!

  • Anne_white53

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra     
     
    Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet.
     
    Anne’s Comment: NIACIN VITAMIN B3 is the only known “preventative; treatment or cure…!!!

  • Anne_white53

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra     
     
    Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet.
     
    Anne’s Comment: NIACIN VITAMIN B3 is the only known “preventative; treatment or cure…!!! Looks like an extreme type of PELLAGRA to me !
    the doc used Vitamin A; adding Niacin Vitmain B3 might cure this guy !!!
    Niacin B3 can be bought at any pharmacy for about 5$ for 100 tabs ! Cool !(ps do not exceed moere than !00mgs of Niainc a day or at a time..the best way to get Niacin Vitamin B3 for skin health is with a Vitamin B-Complex tab

  • Bc

    Anne_white53 is a charlatan, this man is not suffering from pellagra, and no conservative treatment would abate, or resolve, his progressive condition. Proper nutrition will optimize his base health, but none of the mechanisms described are appropriate or feasible for the resolution of his condition. What you suggest is laughable.

  • Anne_White53

    no you are wrong…see what Niacin Vitamin B3 does…makes the skin so the skin does not get invaded by warts bacteria and viruses…Vitamin A helps this alot too because Vitamin A increases the Immune system…did you know the M.D. treating Dede IS  and HAS given dede Vitamin A as his first treatment of defense ? sp wjhy does the top dermatologist of UMaryland use vitamin A is laughable?

  • Anne_white53

    to Bc; I think you should correct your stement Anne white is a charlatan…1. i had to look up the meaning of the word…says seeks personal gain…I seek no persoanl gain !! plesae correct !!!

  • Anne_white53

    ps the high refined corn diet of indonesia produces Pellagra; refined grains actual cause Vit. B3 problems ! there is also a tapioca they eat which cause vitamin prob; Kassava root causes Pellagra…!

  • Logical Responses

    Don’t you think if it was something as simple as a vitamin deficiency even a doctor as lacking in technology as one from his country could determine that? And if it is due to the “local” diet of his area, why is he the only one affected by it so drastically? Ann_White is a complete hippie who reads a nutrition book and thinks she can cure cancer with a stupid vitamin. GEEZ. On top of that, scrubbing his skin? These things are RECURRING, he certainly needs to prevent them from growing and stop the infection at the source. Not being a doctor, I assume his medical team is probably closer to an answer by suggesting chemo then any of the responses to this article. By far. So much ignorance…. it’s amazing what people with a GED think they know…. “Vitamin B deficiency…” wow… Ann_White you should be a damn comedian.

  • Gyleches

    I f indeed what you say is true then you owe it to this man to get over there, meet him and educate him.

  • Anne_white53

    Hi Gyleches:  Appreciate your comment ! You are right…to be honest there is an American young guy in the southern usa who has this same condition…so I want to get the info to both of them; because these warts can be treated by making their skin healthy so the “warts do not take a hold ! I thank u !

  • Anne_white53

    Anne’s Comment: NIACIN VITAMIN B3 is the only known “preventative; treatment or cure… for Pellagra !

    One way to get Niacin is to drink dairy milk…milk has Tryptophan which can be converted to Niacin by the system;
    Niacin is a Vitamin; Tryptopahn is an amino acid; both in milk
    Milk also has Riboflavin B2 which shield the eyes from the sun

  • Anne_white53

    YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW ?

    YOU DO NOT KNOW THE TOP DERMATOLGIST FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MARLYLAND IS

    ALREADY USING  PURE VITAMIN A;  VITAMIN  A  TABLETS

    CURE THIS GUYS SKIN WARTS 
    The MD thinks VITAMIN A CAN CURE THIS GUY;S DISEASE !
    SO WHY DON’T YOU WRITE A LETTER TO THE TOP DERMATOGLOIST AT U OF MD AND TELL HIM

    VITAMIN A DEFICIENY WOW DOC YOU SHOULD BE ON COMEDY !

    SUMMARY TELL THE DOC OF U MD HE IS A FOOL TO USE VIT.  A  !

  • Anne_white53

    I think you should retract these to statments 

    Anne white thinks she can cure cancer with a simple vitamin

    ANSWER I NEVER SAID THAT WARTS ARE NOT CANCER fool

    2 , you said I have a  GED ? why woudl you say that ? do you know me from somewhere  I have never heard of you or met u so why do you say I have a GED when the TRUTH IS I GRADUATE DFROM hs all the way back in 1969 probably before you were born ~ and HAVE AN Associate of Science Degree and an IQ of 138 ; so go figure A hole !!! stop babbling!

  • Anne_white53

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P…   
    Logical rsponses wrote Don’t you think if it was something as simple as a vitamin deficiency even a doctor as lacking in technology as one from his country could determine that ? 

    Anne’s answer:   i guess not ! ! !  because they have not cured Dede !

  • Anne_white53

    Again I must ask you why do you say I have a Ged when I graduated from HS with a 540 in Math SAT and a %20 in Grammar SAt IQ 138 ?

    Why do you spew such utter noncses about somehow u do not know?

  • ANNE_WHITE53

    Does anyone else besides me see a very important observation about dede’s skin condition and warts ? This is what I realized as I was meditating on Dede (and the hundreds of other peole worldwide who have this condtion)…

    THE WARTS ONLY GROW WHERE THE SKIN IS EXPOSED TO AIR…

    such as Dede’s Face  Hands and Feet…I do not think the warts infest Dedes entire system so what does this mean as a general thought ? this means POSSIBLY the Warts require Oxygen to grow and thrive; so what is is: In Indonesia MANY folks live thier lives with no shoes becuase shoes ar e expensive and the indonesian can be poor so they should put GLOVES  and special shoes on this guy to keep the AIR out becauwe you see
    WARTS ARE A VIRUS and Viruses have two forms Aerobic and non aerobic
    Aerobic Virus like warts require Air to thrive so get the guy gloves + shoes!
    summary: just keeping air away from warts can heal them and prevent them!

  • Anne_white53

    I will formulate my protocol as a non professional and post here then hopefully send my ideas to the Doc. @ maryland because freedom of speech rules; and I would also like this doc to try to help the american guy who has this; the american guy smokes tobacco; (he holds the cigareete in his “claws
    AND see what the guy doesn’t know is TOBACCO MAKES THIS COND. WORSE
    because you see TOBACCO DEPLETES NIACIN B3 and can cause Pellagra skin prob.  Summary: dede’s skin cannot fight the virus; Nutrients can help !!!

  • Anne_white53

    ps the reason I mentioned Cod Liver Oil is because CLO has Vitamin A (natural); however Cod Liver Oil also has Vitamin D and Omega Oils;  Health Hint:  Regular Fish Oil does not have Vit. A+D; only fish Liver oils do; so just simply soaking cloth in Fish liver oil then putting the cloths on the warts fpr a few daus mighght actally destroy the wart virus !!! Dedde’s disease has not been cured yet !@

  • Anne_white53

    http://www.umm.edu/dermatology/treeman.htm   
     
    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.  Read more: http://www.umm.edu/dermatology/treeman.htm#ixzz1yWexxDdm

    ps dede could not tolerate the antivirals; so this is why I said vit. b3!
    i agree with teh Vitamin A but not synthetic ; cod liver oil better; see in poor countrties they can afford eggs; Eggs have Vitamin A + D! see
    Vitamin A boosts the immune system vitamin a also found in “Dairy; which again the poor indonesian cannot buy so they have low Vit. A!

  • Anne_white53

    http://www.umm.edu/dermatology…   
     
    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.I was merely suggesting the addition of Vitamin B’s and Omega’s…final post !if I get any reply from Dr. Gaspari will post those and thanks to all ! Anna usa 

  • Anne_white53

    final summary: 
    Working with doctors in Indonesia, Dr. Gaspari suggested treating Dede with large doses of synthetic Vitamin A…

    anne’s  final comment  Vitamin A is just the beginning of dede’s cure !(ps I won’t be replying to anyone elses comments; thanks again folks!

  • Lizzette

     Well, it’s true that those parts are exposed to air, but it would be silly to rule out other reasons for this, such as the fact that those parts also have more blood vessels closer to the surface of the skin. I’m not a doctor, but I would guess it could be related to that, as the doctors conducting surgeries on him noted that each wart had it’s own blood supply. There could also be a lot of other possible reasons besides that, as the composition of skin varies from one part of the body to the next. I’m just saying, it makes very little sense to jump to a conclusion like that without doing tests, so unless you have samples of his blood and tissue, there’s no way to prove that what you say is anywhere close to true.

  • Genjenny03

    It was 2 years ago that I read About Dede Koswara’s condition and every now and then, I type his name on google search hoping that they have found a cure.

    I hope that the government set side what they think about Dr. Gaspari and start following Dede’s footstep of going anywhere to find a cure. 

  • Austin

    Well it seems Indonesia’s government is just as messed up as the us government since they are not letting him come here for treatment. I agree that a bone marrow transplant would most likely be very beneficial to Dede but the biggest problem with it would most likely be finding a suitable donor. 

  • inakachick

     Viruses are not aerobic or non-aerobic – they don’t respire independently at all.

  • SkepticRina

    chemotherapy is POISON to the body’s immune system!!! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NB3RKNIVTEPTEJEAM4KGHUY6VU arggg

    True – chemotherapy won’t cure it. But his body doesn’t have a natural immunity to warts like most people do, which is why the warts keep growing back.

  • Ginger

    You graduated with what? Are you serious? You can barely spell and your grammar is awful. The word is “nonsense”, not “noncses”. Let’s start with Dede having a disease where his immune system is weak, hence the article states that its more like he has HIV, but he’s actually negative for it, therefore, he develops certain illnesses and is unable to fight them off. His skin problem is not the core issue; you idiot! If he was able to cure his immune problems then the skin issue would have been resolved a long time ago. All you do is think skin skin skin skin!!! Vitamin A!! What is wrong with you?! HELLO!!! Its an immune problem!!! Where is his skin problem starting from???? The answer? The fact that his immune system is compromised!!!! Now please, Anne, shut the heck up, JESUS! All of your posts are drivel and annoying. IQ at 138….you must be delusional. BTW, Vitamin A does not only come from eggs and they raise chickens over there. You barely know anything about their culture or economy. Please don’t compare a country with another country you know nothing about. You’re only showing what an ignorant person you are. In addition.he doesn’t have pellagra. And the word “charlatan” is some one who is a fraud, a person that makes elaborate claims on something they don’t really know about, basically a cheat!

  • tanya

    he should travel to dr gaspari for a normal human life.. why is the indonesian govt thinking so negative about dr gaspari.. its a matter of life and death.. how can they even afford to think that way..

  • Anonymous

    How can Indonesia prevent him from leaving the country? This is absolutely despicable. America needs to intervene.

  • Morgan

    Too little, too late.

  • TashaJayne

    “The government seems to view me as some outsider butting in where I don’t belong.” – well it would, wouldn’t it? No Government takes a liking to somebody not following the party line and doing what they’re told at all times.

  • Yevgen Zaporozhets

    “They gave him some medicines but it did not cure him at all.”
    Well, with cancer/virus treatment there is no single definite treatment option, didn’t you know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/shonda.christopher Shonda Christopher

    Why cure someone when you can use them to advertise you country. The price of human life doesn’t have much value. Boo to them. My thoughts go out to Dede and all the other people affected by this horriable virius. Lets hope the people looking for a cure find it.

  • Karen

    This is Karen from China. We have a way to kill the wat in Chinese traditional way, cheap, and easy. Although there is no same such big case , I hope it could help. My self also tried one time, it is worked. I have one very small wat in hand more than 8 years, it was growing very slowly, but I hate it. I tried to cut it out with my hand, it was bleeding, and after some days it come out again, and became bigger than before. Last 3 years, I search from internet, and found one way. To use the fresh garlic, smash it, and put on it before sleeping, and remove next day morning, keep three days. After that, I found my skin and the wat same burned, and after some days more, it gone, and up till now never come back again. I think, Dede could try. If anyone could give him this message, that is great.

    I just watch TV for his case, I am so sorry for him. Actually the sugery is a wrong way. Because wart is the virus, it need to killed, not cut. After cut, it will come back more. I am confident that, his case will be fine. Hope he himself also full of hope for the future life. As a Chinese, I am so proud of our traditional medical culture, and hope this small message could help. God bless him.

  • kare

    This is Karen from China. We
    have a way to kill the wat in Chinese traditional way, cheap, and easy.
    Although there is no same such big case , I hope it could help. My
    self also tried one time, it is worked. I have one very small wart in
    hand more than 8 years, it was growing very slowly, but I hate it. I
    tried to cut it out with my hand, it was bleeding, and after some days
    it come out again, and became bigger than before. Last 3 years, I
    search from internet, and found one way. To use the fresh garlic, smash
    it, and put on it before sleeping, and remove next day morning, keep
    three days. After that, I found my skin and the wat same burned, and
    after some days more, it gone, and up till now never come back again. I
    think, Dede could try. If anyone could give him this message, that is
    great.

    I just watch TV for his case, I am so sorry for him. Actually the
    sugery is a wrong way. Because wart is the virus, it need to killed,
    not cut. After cut, it will come back more. I am confident that, his
    case will be fine. Hope he himself also full of hope for the future
    life. As a Chinese, I am so proud of our traditional medical culture,
    and hope this small message could help. God bless him.

  • Naqvi

    Take this man at Iran, Masshad, Holy Shrine of Imam Reza A.S.. Infinite people get cure there……..

  • a.d

    Dee that is exactly how I ended up here I think it’s pretty sad that the Indonesian govt is treating this like some pissing contest let dede go to America where he can get some help!

  • GhettoRanger

    An IQ of what? Come on now 138? Sorry I’m not buying it.