A victim of horrific facial disfigurement - known as "the
man with no face" - has been given new hope by the
advancement of medical science.
Jose Mestre, from Lisbon, Portugal, has been losing his
face to a huge growth for the past 35 years, distorting
it out of all recognition - and it's still growing.
The tumor on 51-year-old Jose's face is a collection of
blood vessels that have expanded, producing a raised red
area on the skin.
Jose was born with a strawberry-coloured birthmark on his
upper lip. At puberty it began growing, eventually smothering
his lips, nose and one of his eyes. Now it is 33cm long
and weighs 3kg.
But Jose's religious faith - as a Jehovah's Witness he refuses
to accept a blood transfusion - has prevented him from having
surgery to remove the growth.
Jose's rare condition was the subject of a Discovery Channel
TV documentary 'The Man With No Face', part of the 'My Shocking
It reveals how top medical experts in London have now held
out hope of helping Jose, a well-known figure around the
streets of Lisbon.
A leading British surgeon has offered to treat Jose using
ultrasound waves to coagulate the blood before the operation.
This should remove the risk of heavy bleeding - satisfying
his religious beliefs about blood transfusions in the process.
Dr Iain Hutchison, of St Bartholomew's in London, is confident
an operation with a harmonic scalpel could make him look
a lot more normal.
Discovery Channel said: "Surrounded by a loving family,
it seems incredible that he has not been treated and his
face was allowed to grow so big. However, through years
of medical misinformation, some misdiagnosis, lack of finances,
and reluctance to undergo treatment due to religious beliefs,
the growth has continued to obliterate his face."
My Shocking Story follows Jose on a journey through Europe
to seek medical advice for one last chance to stop his face
from suffocating him.
In this journey of a lifetime he travels by train, via Paris,
to Britain, to meet the top experts in London. He goes through
a series of tests, consultations, and meets other patients
with a similar affliction. In London he also spends time
with his sister Guida and the rest of his family, enjoys
being a tourist in London, while making the biggest decision
of his life.
Jose's dream is to live a long and normal life. Following
the showing of the Discovery documentary he continues to
adhere to his 'no blood transfusion' religious principles.
But he has agreed to go back to the London hospital in 2008,
when doctors hope to carry out specialist surgery to begin
removing parts of his tumor, without the need for blood
- December 24, 2007.