An eight-year-old has been forced to stay indoors all his life because he terrifies other children and suffers from horrific pain if he touches anything due to a rare condition.
Mehendi Hassan, a Bangladeshi boy, has been shunned by the society because of the acute skin disease that is effectively turning him to stone. While his face looks normal, the rest of his body is covered in thick, scaly skin making it difficult to walk or touch anything.
His community, and even his grandmother, detest him according to Mehendi's mother, who is calling on the government to diagnose and cure the condition that has robbed her son of his childhood. The eight-year-old struggles to wear clothes as even slightest of friction to his skin is excruciating and stays at home all day because his appearance terrifies other children in the village.
His mother Jahanara Begum said: "Other children detest him. People find him filthy because of his condition. He has been home for eight years because whenever he goes out, villagers get scared and say bad things to him. Everyone hates him, no one likes to see him or eat in front of him. Not even my mother-in-law. I beg government to help my child. It upsets him so I keep him at home. He always cries out in pain. It is devastating to see him suffering."
Mehendi is Jahanara's third child and was born a healthy seven pounds in the village of Dona Raninagar in Naogaon district of north Bangladesh.
When he was 12 days old his mother – a brick kiln labourer – and father Abul Kalam Azad, a van driver, noticed minor rashes in his body. They ignored it thinking it was mosquito bites, but soon the rash spread from his heel to abdomen and within three months and his fingers, chest and back began to get covered in thick, scaly skin.
The concerned parents consulted various local doctors, trying all forms of medicines to heal their son, but nothing could control the outbreak. Frustrated and broke, they eventually stopped his treatment.
Abul Kalam Azad said: "No doctor could diagnose the disease. They all say he suffers from a rare skin disease but no one has been able to cure him. I have no money left. Whatever little I could earn from driving a van, I spent it on his treatment. Whenever I could save a little, say £10, I would take him to doctors. Eventually, all my savings and earnings were exhausted on his treatment but there was no cure. Frustrated, I stopped taking him to doctors. For last year he has not seen any doctor."
Physicians believe Mehendi's case is severe, but are still clueless as what the condition is, what caused it and if it can be cured.
Pediatrician Dr Mohammad Emdadul Haque said: "He was brought to us for treatment. The patient is suffering from a rare kind of skin disease. We do not receive such cases normally. It is hard to say what he is suffering from. We have referred him to advanced skin specialists."
With no treatment and growing bizarre condition, Hassan is forced to live as a pariah in his village as no one likes to even 'glance at him'. He does not play or study at schools because teachers turned him away as his appearance terrified pupils.
Jahanara said: "I had enrolled him to a school but there he was beaten up by other children. One day he came home crying and saying he was assaulted in school. I requested his teachers to please pay attention to him and see no one beats him up but the teachers said they were unable to discipline other kids and that his presence was affecting studies of other children.
"Even at Madrasa, the teachers would talk to him from a distance and never let him eat with other children saying he stinks. He has no friends and he does not go out. To see him live alone is devastating. He cries and says why he is suffering. I always tell him Allah has made him different and with his will, he will also be able to study and live a normal, healthy life."
The mother is now pleading government to help her son find a doctor who can treat him and free him from the pain.
"I beg government to please come forward and help me with his treatment so that he too can live as a normal human. I have been struggling a lot raising him up. Seeing him in pain is unbearable," she said.
– Daily Mail