A Colombian boy dubbed “turtle boy” because of a huge mole that was growing on his back, has had the “shell” removed by a British surgeon.
Didier’s mother Luz could not raise the money for the operation to remove the mole but British plastic surgeon Neil Bulstrode agreed to operate on Didier for free when he heard about his story.
Didier Montalvo, six, suffered from Congenital Melanocytic Nevus an extremely rare condition. Essentially it is a birthmark that continues to grow. It affects around 1 in 20,000 newborn babies but Didier’s was described by Dr Bulstrode as the worst he had ever seen. The cause the condition is unknown, but doctors believe there is a change in the development of skin in the embryo, triggered by a gene mutation.
Didier’s life was severely affected by the growth. He and his family were shunned by villagers in his home in rural Colombia in South America and his mother Luz was even told it was her fault for looking at a solar eclipse while pregnant.
Dr Bulstrode and his team of doctors carried out a complex series of skin grafts over several stages to remove the giant mole.
Dr Bulstrode who works at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and is an expert in treating patients like Didier, said: “Didier’s was the worst case I had ever seen. Effectively three quarters of the circumference of his body was affected.
“Obviously he has had to go through a number of painful operations, but we feel it was worth it. It’s great to see the photos of how Didier is getting on now. I’m really happy with how things have healed.”