Man with a tumour covered half his face has it removed
A 60-year-old Nepalese man with a tumour so big it covered half his face and left him blind in one eye due to a rare genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis, finally has it removed after multiple surgeries.
The former accountant Ashok Shrestha from Kathmandu, Nepal suffers from neurofibromatosis – a rare genetic disorder that causes tumours to form on his nerve tissues, Dailymail UK reported.
Shrestha has had tumours on his face since he was just two years old, and by the age of 30, these had grown to over six inches in length covering over half of his face and blinding him in his right eye.
Despite travelling to India for surgery in 1989, the tumours continued to grow – as did the stigma from strangers towards Ashok.
People would stare, interrogate him about the illness, and unashamedly take pictures without his permission. On one occasion, a man even accused him of being the devil in a past life.
Despite having a master’s degree in accounting, Ashok found it increasingly difficult to find a job because of the way he looked.
With his father dying of a heart attack and his mother passing soon after due to a brain hemorrhage, Ashok was left with nothing.
Fed up with his deteriorating condition and the failed surgeries, Ashok searched for the best doctor in the world with the hope that the tumours could be removed once and for all.
Having discovered Dr Mckay McKinnon, a plastic surgeon who specialises in the removal of large tumours, Ashok began his crowdfunding efforts.
London-based singer Kristina Allen, 24, grew up in Kathmandu and used to see Ashok sitting in a local tea shop everyday.
In 2015, Kristina returned to Kathmandu for the Christmas holidays after studying in the UK and wanting to help Ashok and she set to work raising awareness for his crowdfunding campaign.
Taking to social media, Kristina began a Go Fund Me page for Ashok and the total quickly rose to over £31,000.
In March 2018, Ashok had his first surgery and since then has had five further surgeries that have reduced the size of his tumour by 90 per cent.
Not only have the operations increased his confidence, but they have allowed him the ability to communicate clearly, something that the tumour covering his mouth previously prevented.
Whilst Ashok remains blind in his right eye, he has been given a prosthetic eye which has significantly increased his self-esteem.
This growth in confidence has led Ashok to finding employment in a Nepalese restaurant in his new home, Chicago, although he ultimately wants to return to his former career in accounting.
‘When I was two, a doctor visited Nepal from London and I had my first operation,’ Ashok said.
‘The tumours kept growing though. Nothing really changed until I was thirty and then I underwent further surgeries in India to try and remove the tumour that now covered half of my face.
‘These surgeries in India were unsuccessful. People had started to become scared of me and the way I looked.
‘The large size of the tumour on my face made it very difficult for me to eat and drink. My speech was also disturbed, making it difficult for other people to understand what I was saying.
‘Someone even said ‘you were a devil in a past life,’ because of the way I looked.
‘In Nepal, conditions like his often carry a stigma. People stare at me for long periods of time making me feel very uncomfortable.
‘Some people even come right up to my face to interrogate me – asking me why I look this way.
‘With the help of Kristina, we managed to start a crowdfunding campaign and I’ve since had five surgeries in America which have all been very successful.
‘They have managed to remove ninety per cent of the tumour on my face and I now have a prosthetic eye. I can’t believe the improvement after all this time.
‘I recently also got a job as a cook in a Nepali restaurant in Chicago and I’m starting to feel accepted and a part of society.’
Whilst Ashok is finding everyday living in Chicago much easier since his operations, he still notices strangers staring but hopes that one day he will be seen as just another regular person.
With at least two more surgeries planned to remove as much of the remaining tumour as possible, Ashok is hopeful that this dream will become a reality.
His ultimate goal is to help others suffering from neurofibromatosis to find employment.
‘I no longer face the level of harassment I once experienced in Nepal,’ Ashok said.
‘However, some people I encounter still stare at me. I very much wish to be seen as just another human being.
‘I’m hopeful that one day, this day will come – especially as my remaining tumours should be removed in the future.
‘If the opportunity is there, I would love to do some courses that would enable me to get better employment.
‘My dream is to set up a foundation that would help people like me with neurofibromatosis find employment to give them the support that is needed to get through life.
‘My happiness would come from making a positive difference to people who suffer from neurofibromatosis.’