Colombia’s ‘Turtle Boy’ Has Giant Birthmark Removed
Colombia — A British surgeon has freely given his skills and time to assist a six-year old child known to as ‘Turtle Boy’ because of the large shell-like mole affecting his back. The success of the surgery will now allow him to live a normal life.
Didier Montalvo, of Colombia, had the rare condition called congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN) covering a large portion of his body.
Even though there was a possibility that the growth could turn cancerous Didier’s mother Luz could not afford the cost of the surgery. However, Neil Bulstrode, a Great Ormond Street Hospital plastic surgeon, operated on him free of charge after hearing of his extreme situation; traveling to Bogota the Colombian capital to assist a surgical team remove Didier’s huge mole. The doctors then had to proceed with a complex set of skin grafts over various stages.
Mr Bulstrode is an expert in treating others like Didier who suffer from this rare condition, and he said that this was the ‘worst case he had ever seen’ with a 75 per cent circumference of Didier’s body affected and that removing it would significantly improve his quality of life.
Mr Bulstrode explained how Didier and his mother Luz had had to live separately from their neighbours as they mistakenly believed this growth resulted from him being conceived at the time of an eclipse and that Didier was struck by ‘evil forces’ meaning that he could not join in school or be baptised.
Mr Bulstrode performs approximately 40 CMN removals a year on Great Ormond Street patients and he said that working with the team in Colombia had been ‘an amazing experience’.
Didier said: ‘I want to grow up but the mole won’t let me.’
Channel 4 will highlight Didier’s story in the Bodyshock documentary series.
Congenital melanocytic nevus is a type of mole present at birth which is a light brown to black area or plaque, of any size and covering part of the body. The appearance of the CMN is similar to moles acquired after birth; however, the CMN are usually larger.
The larger ones are removed for prevention of cancer, as well as relieving the physical and psychological burden although the benefit is impossible to determine for any individual.
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