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Half Man Half Tree

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Dede is a 36 year-old Indonesian fisherman with a rare medical condition that had baffled local doctors for nearly 20 years. With life-threatening, horrific branch-like growths covering his body, hands and feet, Dede was unable to pick up his children as they grew up and has been able to exist because of the kindness and care shown by his extended family in a rural fishing village. But Dede longs to lead a normal life and hopes for a cure from modern medicine. Today, Dede has undergone surgery to remove most of the growths. HALF MAN, HALF TREE takes us to the beginning of Dede’s journey of hope, from when Dr Gaspari first learnt of his condition to the investigation of possible treatments. The one-hour special premieres Sunday, December 14 at 2100 hrs (9:00 pm SIN/HK). Encores on Monday, December 15 at midnight (12:00 am), 0800 hrs (8:00 am) and 1400 hrs (2:00 pm). 

Dede is a forlorn yet intelligent man trapped in a body encased in warts. Crippled by this unusual infection and not able to hold down a job, Dede was forced to beg in the backstreets of his home town and soon grew accustomed to the stares and abuse that followed him due to his appearance. With no source of income, Dede took part in a local “circus” show where he and sufferers of other equally shocking and physically debilitating conditions were paraded in public and paid to perform “stunts” to entertain the crowd of onlookers. To many, this is unthinkable but to Dede and his fellow “performers” these shows are the only means of making a living and spares them the indignity of begging.

Leading dermatology expert Dr Anthony Gaspari came to know of Dede’s plight and was fascinated by his condition. In all his years of practising medicine, Dr Gaspari had not come across a case as extreme as this. Moved to help, Dr Gaspari travelled to the remote fishing village in Indonesia, offering his services for free.

It was initially thought that Dede had a rare genetic disorder called Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (EDV) but tests for this proved negative. Dr Gaspari’s extensive studies have led him to believe that Dede actually suffers from Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes common warts in healthy individuals. However, Dede’s immune system does not function normally, thereby enabling the condition to spread.

Dede’s fate was not known at the time of the filming, but extensive tests have led to identification of the disease and a possible cure. And for Dede – a chance for a normal life.
Follow his moving story on HALF MAN HALF TREE.