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The man with no face - medical science offers new hope to face-eating tumor man
Jose Mestre and sister Guida
Above: Jose Mestre and his sister Guida in London. Pictures below show Jose aged 14 when the tumor was still small, and as he is now.

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 Story' series.

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 transfusions.

- December 24, 2007.




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