Doctors to reconstruct Kashmir villager with 'no face' | india | Hindustan Times
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Doctors to reconstruct Kashmir villager with 'no face'

india Updated: Oct 09, 2012 20:22 IST
Ashiq Hussain

Until now people only abhored Mohammad Latif Khatana (32) for his facial looks, deformed due to multiple folds of skin burying his forehead, eyes and ears, which has also forced him to beg.

However, after his plight was highlighted by media, health authorities in Kashmir have decided to show compassion by reconstructing his looks free of cost and "sparing him further ignominy".

"We are trying to locate the man who lives in a far off valley of Kashmir. After seeing his preliminary history, our plastic surgeons have decided to rebuild his facial features," director (health) of Kashmir division, Saleem-ur-Rehman told HT.

Khatana, who lives high in the mountains with his 25-year-old wife Salima, in north Kashmir's frontier district of Bandipora, travels to Srinagar for four months of the year to beg and find money, UK based tabloid, The sun wrote. Attempts by Hindustan times to reach Khatana failed owing to inaccessibility of the area.

The report said that Khatana was born with a small lump on his face which has grown to form huge flaps across his face, making it impossible for him to see.

Latif is the youngest of his siblings - two brothers and three sisters - and is the only child suffering from this condition.

Some eight years ago his brother sold a piece of land to pay for his trip to a doctor's. But there was nothing they could do, he said.

The condition has forced Khatana to live a life of seclusion and penury.

Khatana vividly remembered a day when while begging three girls walked past him. "They spat at my feet and ran away with scarves covering their mouths. I was so embarrassed."

"I was shocked at how cruel they were. I felt very depressed for days. But I had to pick myself up and get on with it."

His marriage became only possible after a local girl Salima, handicapped by one foot, agreed to tie the knot with him."My wife has only one foot, and for so many years she struggled to meet a husband. As soon as we met we knew we were right for one another," he said.

With his wife seven months pregnant, Khatana seems apprehensive that his child might be born with the same facial condition.

"We can't afford to see a doctor now, we're too poor. And no doctor in the past has told me not to have children. I can only hope and pray that our baby will be healthy."

Doctors however believe that a plastic surgery would improve his looks drastically. "It is a condition called neuro-fibroma which is a kind of benign tumor of facial nerves. A surgery with one or two sittings will completely transform his features," said Dr Hamid-Ullah Dar, a plastic surgeon in Health Department, who is expected to perform the surgery.

"Mostly these types of tumours are small but his is an exceptional case. It is not life threatening but deforming," he said.