A man suffering with elephantiasis in his genitals,which caused them to swell twenty times the average size, has had life-changing surgery.
Horace Owiti Opiyo, known as Forence, from Kibigori, Kenya, first noticed a cyst on his genitals in 2006, when he was just 10 years old.
An initial procedure removed the growth in 2007 but the problem re-emerged years later.
You can watch him tell his story of recovery below:
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Over time, the cyst caused Forence’s scrotum and penis to grow to almost a metre long, weighing 5kgs.
The 20-year-old said:
This thing started very small, like a boil. Then it was the size of my fist. It just continued to grow bigger and bigger.
The pain became increasingly unbearable, so that I couldn’t even walk or sit. I walked as if I had bowed legs.
Forence eventually had to drop out of school because his testicles grew so large, he could no longer wear clothes or walk easily.
Classmates teased him and unable to afford any more surgery, Forence began spending more time at the home he shared with his brother Eliza and elderly grandmother, Salina – his parents died when he was five-years-old.
Some locals believe herbal medicine can cure disease and Salina advised her grandson to rub a particular wild herb on his genitals.
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I told my grandmother that I have been infected by a disease, but I’m not sure what it is?
It could be a curse? I knew this was not God’s work, but the devil’s.
In a desperate attempt to help Forence, neighbour, Duncan Otieno, took shocking photographs of Forence’s genitals and posted them on Facebook with a plea for help.
The post went viral overnight and reached the Kisumu County governor’s wife, Olivia Ranguma, who asked a doctor to assess Forence’s condition – an ambulance was sent for him straight away.
Doctors at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital examined Forence and diagnosed him, not with a curse, but with Scrotal elephantiasis.
Dr Emmanuel Benge explained:
It’s a condition in the medical language called lymphedema, where you have swelling of the tissues. In this case it’s his genitalia, so it’s something called elephantiasis.
Scrotal elephantiasis can be caused by a mosquito bite injecting larvae into the bloodstream. The larvae mature into invasive parasitic worms, which block up the body’s drainage system causing a lymphedema, or tissue swelling, and thickening of the skin.
Scans showed, nestled deep within Forence’s scrotum, were two healthy testicles. His urinary tract was withdrawn in the folds surrounding it.
The hospital scheduled two operations; the first to debulk the scrotum and get rid of the excess mass and the second, to reconstruct the penis and fashion it into a more usual shape and size.
Head surgeon, Dr Dan Raburu explained complications were possible:
We focused on locating and placing the testes in their rightful places.
We then focused on trying to remove the excess tissue, skin and flesh and fat around this and reconstructing the penile shaft so that it can be visible.
Given a lot of vascularisation, a lot of blood vessels, in this area, he could lose a lot of blood and lose his life in theatre because of shock.
The recovering patient said:
I was just happy to have the operation, I wasn’t afraid though.
When I got up I was surprised that my body was so light. All the heaviness had gone.
I’m swimming now. I couldn’t go anywhere near the water because of the heaviness of that thing.
Forence has high hopes for the future:
Now I can run and I can play football. Now I’m free!
I’m trying as much as possible to build myself up so that I can have a wife. But the next step I want to take is to get an education.
Who knows what will happen in the future?
Several months later, Forence also found out he could one day be a father.
Congratulations to this extraordinary man! What a recovery.
Body Bizarre is on Thursdays at 10pm on TLC UK.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.