http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/11/wtreeman111.xml Tree man 'who grew roots' hopes to marry after 4lb of warts removed Last Updated: 8:11pm BST 14/04/2008 The 'Tree Man of Java' is hoping to get married after doctors performed four major operations to hack away the bark-like tissue sprouting from his hands and feet. For 20 years Dede Koswara lived covered in warts with huge tree-like growths encasing his limbs. Tree man Dede recovers in hospital after five operations to remove his root-like warts Today Dede, whose plight was highlighted on the Telegraph website, can once more use his hands and walk without pain. He can see the outline of his toes for the first time in over a decade after medics cut more than 4lbs of warty horns from his legs and feet. He has also become a sudoko addict now medics have cut growths from his hands allowing him to hold a pen. Dede, 37, now hopes that he will resume a normal life after two more operations to graft undamaged skin onto his hands, feet and face. advertisement Speaking from an Indonesian hospital, he said: "What I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married." Dede's ordeal began when he was 15 and cut his knee in an accident. A small wart developed on his lower leg and spread uncontrollably. Eventually he had to give up work as a builder and fisherman, and scratch a living in a traveling freak show. His wife of ten years left him as it became impossible for him to support her and their two children. Late last year, however, Dede's plight was highlighted on Telegraph.co.uk and in a Discovery Channel documentary. The documentary team took American dermatology expert Dr Anthony Gaspari to Indonesia to see if he could find a cure. Dr Gaspari, of the University of Maryland, concluded Dede's affliction was caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection usually causing only small warts. Dede's problem was that he has an extremely rare immune system deficiency, leaving his body unable to contain the warts. The virus was therefore able to "hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells", ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance causing tree-like growths known as "cutaneous horns". Indonesian health officials have suggested that the mysterious immune problem may occur in as few as 200 people worldwide. Dede's counts of a key type of white blood cell were so low that Dr Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus. Immediately after the documentary was aired, a row seemed to be brewing over Dede's treatment. The Indonesian government was worried that Dr Gaspari had taken blood and tissue samples abroad without official authorisation. This was resolved, and Dr Gaspari has revisited Indonesia to meet the health minister Dr Siti Fadilah Supari. He is now liaising with the doctors caring for Dede at the Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung, West Java. Dr Lily Sulityowati, from the Indonesian Health Department, said: "Once Dr Gaspari met with the minister and explained all, we were happy to work with him." Dede went under the knife for his first operation in January. In the most recent operation, in March, doctors removed growths on his feet. The medics are now trying to ensure that the warts don't grow back. Dede is taking vitamin A tablets to boost his immune system, and Dr Gaspari is hoping to get expensive anti-viral medicine available only in the US. Tree Man Telegraph TV: Dede is treated by the American expert Dr Gaspari Dr Rachmat Dinata, the skin specialist leading the Indonesian doctors, said the final phase of operations should be completed in around three months. They will take skin from Dede's back and thigh and graft it onto damaged areas. Dr Dinata said: "There is still a high risk that there will be a recurrent growth of warts. So far, though, there has been some thickening of the skin, but no recurrent warts. Dede is very happy. Hopefully he will be able to socialise and work again." For now, Dede is passing the time in hospital doing sudoko puzzles. Skin grafts on his hands will allow him better movement in his fingers, but he can already punch numbers into a telephone and talk to friends. His father Ateng, 72, said: "You can see the form of his 10 toes now. He can wear flip flops. He loves doing sudokos. He is in good condition." Ateng added: "The first priority is to get cured and get a job, but as a father, of course I want my son to remarry. He is a normal guy and he is still a young man."