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Four-year-old with mystery ‘old man’ illness baffles doctors

A four-year-old Bangladeshi boy suffering from a mysterious illness that makes him look like an old man has been admitted to hospital for tests

world Updated: Aug 09, 2016 13:28 IST
Bangladesh,Bayezid Shikdar,progeria
Bayezid Shikdar sits on a bed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Dhaka. (AFP Photo)

A four-year-old Bangladeshi boy suffering from a mysterious illness that makes him look like an aged man has been admitted to a hospital for tests, his family and doctors said.

Born with excess skin that hangs from his limbs and face causing it to sag, Bayezid Shikdar also suffers from related heart, vision and hearing problems.

Doctors at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, a top hospital in Dhaka, have agreed to try to diagnose and treat Bayezid , who comes from a poor farming family, for free.

His father Lablu Shikdar said numerous doctors have been at a loss trying to explain his son’s condition.

“We sold our land to treat him at local hospitals. We took him to religious healers and herbal doctors, but his condition did not change. This hospital is our last hope,” Shikdar said at this week.

“We hope they’ll make him look like any other normal child,” he added.

Doctors initially suspected he suffered from progeria which causes rapid and premature ageing shortly after birth, leading to severe health complications. The extremely rare genetic disorder was the subject of Hollywood movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” starring Brad Pitt.

In this photograph taken on August 7, 2016, four-year-old Bangladeshi child Bayezid Shikdar(R) sits with his mother Tripti Khatun on a bed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Dhaka. (AFP Photo)

But doctors at the Dhaka hospital expressed caution, saying extensive tests were needed before giving out a confirmed diagnosis.

“In progeria, the ageing process accelerates with time,” said Abul Kalam, head of the hospital’s burns and plastic surgery unit.

“But Bayezid’s parents have said the ageing of their boy has been halted recently. He has shown signs of improvement. We’re investigating his condition. In addition to loose skin, he has problems in his heart, ear, eyes and penis,” Kalam added.

Doctors also said that his genetic condition may be the result of inbreeding, with marriage among relatives, including first cousins, common in Bangladesh’s rural areas.

Bayezid’s mother, Tripti Khatun, stressed that her son was like any other child. “He is very fond of fish and rice. He plays football and hide and seek with his cousins,” she said after her son’s case was highlighted in Bangladesh media.

“When I first saw him he looked like a bundle of skin. We had no idea what he was afflicted with. We thought the condition would go away soon. He is an extremely talented boy. There are days he grabs books and wants to go to school. But we thought he’s still too young,” she added.

Incidentally, doctors at the same hospital have also been treating a 26-year-old father dubbed “Tree Man” for the rare and massive bark-like growths on his hands and feet.

First Published: Aug 09, 2016 13:24 IST