A Colombian boy with a growth on his back caused by the rare skin disease Congenital Melanocytic Nevus (CMN) had his life changed by a U.K. doctor recently.
The child, eight-year-old Didier Montalvo, was living with a growth so large it comprised a whopping 20% of his body weight. The growth resembled a turtle shell, and caused many in his rural Colombian community to ostracize him.
Upon hearing of the boy’s struggles, renowned UK plastic surgeon Neil Bulstrode offered to help him free of charge. Montalvo was flown over to the U.K., where Bulstrode successfully removed the growth.
Here’s a picture of Montalvo before the surgery:
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The child’s mother spoke to ITV about the problems caused by her son’s growth.
“He felt very bad before the surgery, it impeded him from doing a lot of the activities he enjoyed doing,” she said. “When he heard people calling him 'Turtle boy' he felt very sad and he would ask ‘Why do I have this?’ It was a very difficult question to answer. We always had hope that something would be done.”
Doctor Bulstrode and his team performed a multi-step procedure that required removing the growth and then performing a number of skin grafts. Bulstrode told ITV that he hopes the procedure allows Montalvo to reintegrate into his community.
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“One of the main focuses for us was to try and get Didier to feel like he could reintegrate with society,” Bulstrode said. “But also to relieve the huge weight that he had. It was around 20 per cent of his body weight. It was like us carrying around a sack of potatoes and was hugely impinging on his lifestyle.”
The surgery was a complete success, and Montalvo is now doing better than ever.
Want to see what happiness looks like? Check out this post-surgery picture of Montalvo: